Advice for broadcasting a new sport

In the last three years, I’ve been fortunate enough to pick up play-by-play for three brand new sports (volleyball, soccer and distance running – a half-marathon). I used different approaches for all three.

For soccer, I have a good friend that is a professional soccer broadcaster, so I’d heard enough advice from him over the years and I’d seen enough on TV to have an idea of what I wanted to do.

For volleyball, I worked with a streaming company that was also sending a college student who was doing DI matches at a Power 5 Conference School. I had no shame picking the brain of someone who was still in college and ten years younger than me. He’s since become a nice industry connection. I also watched some matches on TV, since this was streaming video and I wanted to see how the sport was presented. This is part of the value of having a cable system with channels like ESPNU, SEC Network and the FCS channels.

I’ve never done wrestling (came close a few times), but used the same strategy when I thought I had a wrestling gig.

The interesting one is the half-marathon. It’s one of the most prestigious races in the country, and one of the biggest sporting events in the region from a participation standpoint, so I jumped at the chance.

There were two keys:

  1. Getting the proper equipment (two-way radios to allow on-air communication between our main broadcast position and the lead cars).
  2. Getting an expert analyst.

The first was easy – a local company was willing to partner. The second worked out great. The race committee had a former director that was looking for a way to stay involved. He’d run the race several times when he was younger and was passionate about the event. He was PERFECT and he and I hit it off and have enjoyed working together.

To summarize:

1. Watch video

If the sport is one you haven’t seen or heard broadcast, immerse yourself.

2. Rely on a pro

If the broadcast allows for it, find an expert to be your analyst and rely upon them. Prepare in a way to draw information from the expert. (Improves your approach in other sports too.)

3. Lean on others

Rely on co-workers and other crew members who’ve done it before.

Some of these suggestions have been covered; other stuff is a slight variation. Either way, this is my two cents. Maybe it can help someone.

For additional suggestions on broadcasting a new sport, check out this post from our archives.