Sports Enthusiasts: Would You Rather…?
… be in the booth?
… on the field playing (professionally, semi-professionally, recreationally/club teams, etc.)
… on the sidelines coaching?
… on the sidelines reporting?
… in the middle of it all officiating?
… in the studio offering news, updates and analysis?
… on the couch at home watching it all?
… “in the truck”?
OR, AT SOME POINT IN TIME — ALL OF THE ABOVE?
I’ll explore the benefits of doing each, because all of these jobs (and others) allow for sports enthusiasts to remain close to the game in some capacity.
Most sports fans have played sports at some level; whether it was elementary, jumior/middle/intermediate or high school — some of my friends have played college sports and a couple have been in the NFL. Given this fact, most of us continue to love sports in some capacity even after our playing days are over.
A number of people have other gifts, talents and abilities that allow for them contribute to the beauty that is sports, using the template above, let’s examine the benefits and rewarding experiences that come from each role.
IN THE BOOTH: Broadcasting.
I have a few friends who dabble (or wallow, rather) in sports radio. Some of them report for their university’s newspaper or broadcast channel, a couple work locally and others are on-air personalities where they live. Broadcasting is an element of sports that makes the games more real and live for the viewer and listener. A skilled broadcaster is able to use his/her ambidextrous capabilities with the English language to not only paint a broad picture (play-by-play analysts) but “color” (color analysts) in the finer details and provide viewers and listeners with a virtual real-time idea of what is taking place within a game; as well as the game within a game — as most sports have a nuanced set of stratagem that render them as bona fide chess matches.
As a broadcaster, you often get to meet and commiserate with famous or future famous athletes and even entertainers. The opportunities are virtually limitless in the area of broadcasting.
I still hold out the desire to broadcast any one of the several sports that I love to play and watch. I have the classic voice for it and I know the sports inside and out, in order to be a Ken Singleton of sorts (able to do play-by-play AND color analysis).
ON THE FIELD: Players.
Whether it is basketball, baseball, football, tennis, golf, auto racing, boxing, soccer or even Olympic Curling (along with many other sports), there is a certain rush that comes from playing a sport that you love. The more competitive and the higher the stakes are for victory, the more intense the rush is. There are obvious benefits to being a player, regardless of the level of organization; whether it is the sheer love of the game, impressing family members, friends or that special someone, or to be adored and cheered on by tens of thousands of people. The benefits here are clear for everyone to see.
Having played basketball, baseball/softball and football on organized teams, club teams and recreationally, there is nothing like it.
ON THE SIDELINES: Coaching.
Coaching is for teachers. People think teaching is relegated to a classroom and a chalkboard, and while those two elements are indeed part of almost all competitive sports in some form or fashion, the common denominator between coaches in sports and classroom instructors is the love for teaching and elucidating points for one’s students, (in this case, players).
Having coached high school basketball for three years and looking to enter the coaching ranks as a volunteer assistant this fall (hopefully defensively, with the chance to potentially become a Defensive Coordinator in college and/or the NFL), I know the sky isn’t even the limit on the number of things I can do with my background academically and professionally thus far. I’ll never feel pigeonholed into a career, nor should any of you — once you realize the myriad of ways to contribute towards making sports the great experience that they are.
ON THE SIDELINES: Reporting.
Sideline reporting is relatively new to sports in general, but the market has expanded greatly over the past 30 years. The best of the sideline reporters have a healthy understanding and knowledge of the moment and are sharp in gaining access to timely information regarding players’ injury statuses, nuggets of information about players and coaches, or overall teams that general audiences may be unawares and so forth. Sideline reporting may not be taken seriously by all in the area of sports, even as fans, but they are useful to making the experience of watching or listening to a game a complete and rewarding one.
IN THE MIDST: Officiating.
Officiating is one of the most difficult jobs in sports outside of playing and possibly coaching/managing. I’ve officiated basketball off and on for about 10 years and you must have a backbone, because players, coaches and fans are vehement in their disagreement with the slightest of calls that go opposite of the way they’d hope. However, you are in the middle of it all, and a reputable official takes pride in getting calls correct, not being influenced by fans, coaches, players or gamblers who like to sway the outcomes of games in their favor. The best part: you’ve got the best seat in the house.
I’ve only umpired in a few softball games and making those “bang-bang” (close plays) calls at the plate or first base are epic, particularly in a close game — even if it is a club team or just a company softball league.
IN THE STUDIO: Studio Host/Analyst.
We take these guys and gals for granted, because they just appear to be the preamble to the games we actually tune in to watch, but the best hosts and analysts spend all day or all week (NFL) preparing to deliver the latest news and updates for games that are taking place, the previous day’s/week’s scores and offering insight via the studio analyst(s), who usually have a unique perspective, having played the sport for which they are offering commentary. Studio hosts often double as broadcasters during live games, and many of them go through the same training in the university or through other schools in order to hone in on their abilities (particularly if they have the gift for the job innately stored within themselves).
IN THE TRUCK: The Tech/Camera/Audio Guys.
When you listen to games, you always hear the broadcasters mention “Jim, Sue, Dan, down in the truck…” In Major League Baseball, Chicago White Sox lead announcer Ken “Hawk” Harrelson, who is equal parts (homer) fan and broadcaster, offers his unique style of including the guys (and gals) down “in the truck” at the beginning of every broadcast. Hawk has always done his “Picks to Click” (that is, the players to watch for the game to have game-changing performances). A typical introduction to a White Sox game starts with Hawk stating “And before we show you our ‘Picks to Click’, you choose yours at home”, with his distinct southern twang/drawl — all which make the broadcasting experience unique. Once the viewers are given the time to choose their Picks to Click, he mentions the people “in the truck” by name “Joe… Tommy… Sheila… well, they’re going with Carlos (Quentin)” … “and Stone Pony and Al, they’re taking Paulie (Paul Konerko)…” and “well, Danny and I… we’re going with Alexei (Ramirez).”
It is a useful and creative way to draw attention to the people who actually make the broadcast happen: the people “IN THE TRUCK”, who handle all the cameras, lighting, audio, replays, spotting (for football) and coordinate the entire magilla so that it appears like a seamless operation.
Without the guys in the truck, you would not have your games broadcast.
WHICH WOULD YOU LIKE TO DO IF YOU HAD THE OPPORTUNITY?
… and don’t say “AGENT” ha.