A frustrated young play-by-play broadcaster told me that his ability would shine through if only he were provided sufficient resources – statistics, biographical information on players, etc.
I told him that I couldn’t disagree with him more.
Standout athletes excel even under adverse circumstances. Talented play-by-play broadcasters do the same thing.
Working high school and other games where background information is unavailable will reveal your ability as a play-by-play broadcaster. If you are going to execute an engaging broadcast, you are going to have to rely upon the two most basic fundamentals: storytelling and description.
I couldn’t have worked in sports broadcasting today. My skin is too thin.
Even if 99% of the Internet comments about my talk show or my play-by-play were great, I would dwell on the 1% that wasn’t. I would dwell on it to the point that I would consider tweaking what I was doing to appease the 1%.
Big mistake. Don’t be me. Be realistic. Be mentally strong. Read More
When I was a senior in college, one of my sports broadcasting mentors told me to stay single as long as I could. He said the frequent moves and minimal pay weren’t conducive to a good marriage. He also said that marriage wasn’t conducive to a good sports broadcasting career. It can limit your freedom to go where the jobs are.
Planning your next career move is totally different when you are married, especially if you have kids. You are no longer making decisions unilaterally. You no longer have the freedom to go wherever you want. “What does this move do for my career” suddenly becomes a secondary consideration.
Married sports broadcasters have a totally new set of considerations:
When I was on ESPN Radio, I used to hate when my producer Jason McBride would pop into my headset and say, “We have so-and-so on from the baseball game. They just won 3-1.”
Great. What am I supposed to ask the guy? I didn’t see the game – I was on the air!
Tired of getting caught unprepared, I put together some standard, off-the-shelf questions. Most of them aren’t very insightful, but at least they can get the interview started. From there, you can spontaneously ask more thoughtful questions based upon the answers you receive. Read More
Each month, I probably read at least 30 cover letters from sportscasters looking for jobs.
Here are a handful of common mistakes that people are making.
1. Copy and paste
Other than changing the name of the school, some people sent the exact same letter for MSU as they sent for Clemson.
2. Not stating your reason for interest
State in your opening paragraph what is it about that school that is attractive to you. Be sure to make it about them, not about you. Writing, “This would be a good opportunity for me because….” is hurting your letter, not helping.
Sometimes life offers cool second chances. One of them came for me this week.
In 1989, during my senior year at K-State (The Princeton of the Plains, you know), I spent spring break in Nashville, TN. A mentor had offered to introduce me to several people in the local sports broadcasting industry. One of them was a TV sportscaster named Joe Fisher.
Joe was awesome. He welcomed me to the station, showed me around, and visited with me in his office. He shared advice and patiently answered my questions. He even offered to critique my play-by-play, so I sent him a tape after I returned to school and he gave me a thorough evaluation. I still have his notes. (I was stunned that he didn’t think I was ready to be the voice of the Lakers). In fact, one tip that he offered is something I’ve shared with hundreds of basketball broadcasters since: be clear about which team has the ball.
Once you have the seven fundamentals of basketball play-by-play down cold, these five bonus tips will help make you a star!
1. Be clear about which team has the ball
This is the most common mistake in basketball play-by-play. There are a lot of changes of possession in basketball. You can’t count on all of your listeners knowing which team has it based only upon the names of the players.
Basketball play-by-play isn’t rocket science. Broadcasting the sport is often easier than playing it.
With these seven simple tips, providing all-star caliber basketball play-by-play will be even easier.
1. Time and Score
New listeners don’t want to wait. Give it at least every 90 seconds. Pick an end of the floor and give the time and score every time the ball goes to that end. Or do it every time your team takes possession.