Sideline reporters do not easily impress me. Many of them don’t provide anything that the guys in the booth can’t provide.
However, two radio sideline reporters have stood out to me over the years for their ability to offer insights that can’t come from the booth – Jordan Moore at USC and Matt Walters of Kansas State. (Full disclosure – Matt has been a friend of mine for 26 years).
I spoke to Jordan and Matt about how they approach their jobs in a way that distinguishes themselves. They agree that they are responsible for bringing two things to the table.
- Matt: “Be a keen observer of the sidelines. The job of the sideline reporter is 70/30 between observation and information.”
- Matt: “I try and add some perspective from what I see at field level, but not interfere with the chemistry that the play-by-play and color analyst have going. It’s a delicate balance at times.”
- Matt: “I want to bring information that the play-by-play and color guy may not have time to see. It’s a different perspective because the sideline guy has to watch things that the play-by-play team can’t see or doesn’t necessarily see. Sidelines can see between the lines AND the bench AND the coaches. You have to pay attention to more when you are on the sidelines. For example, ‘Why a punt was blocked.’”
- Jordan: “Sidelines is all about finding your niche. I am not a former player, so I let the analyst in the booth analyze the game, and I provide insights that they cannot.”
2. Info and injuries
- Jordan: I also like to bring high-level statistics into the broadcast that the play-by-play guy will not have enough time look up. And I do the usual injury reports and sideline ‘feel.’”
- Matt: “I eavesdrop on interactions between players, coaches and medical staff.”
- Jordan: “I comb social media throughout the game to keep abreast of any developing storylines and notable personalities, like former USC players, to provide an outside perspective.
Matt and Jordan also offer three great tips about preparation:
1. Get to know the coaches
Matt: “Talk to assistants before the game or during the week.”
2. Don’t rip and read
Matt: “Be original and do your own work. Read the online stuff to educate yourself but it’s also your job to ask questions.
3. Attend practice
Jordan: “I spend the entire week with the team, so I have intimate knowledge of the preparation and personnel, including unique stories.”