6 Ways to Grow Your Sportscasting Career While Sidelined

When COVID-19 prompted the cancellation of sports, athletes didn’t stop training. They didn’t stop trying to improve themselves. You should take the same attitude with your sports broadcasting career.

Here are six ways to improve your career while sidelined.
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Wise Ways to Invest Your Extra Time into Your Career

The San Diego Chargers had a player in the 1990s named Darren Carrington. His locker room nickname was Prison Body because he was so ripped and had washboard abs. He looked like he’d been in prison where he’d had nothing to do except work out.

He looked a lot like me.

Well, maybe not.

While I can’t promise you washboard abs, I can share ways for you to strengthen your career by wisely investing the extra time we all have on our hands right now.
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Uncharted Territory: Sportscasters And The Impact of Coronavirus

With the cancellation or postponement of games, sportscasters nationwide are being challenged economically and emotionally for the foreseeable future because they’re losing opportunities to do what they love in covering sports.

As we all begin to grapple with the impact of COVID-19 in our lives, we invited members of the sports broadcasting community to share stories, feelings, frustrations, and strategies for staying positive.

The result was an encouraging 2-hour conversation with sportscasters from around the country. In this post we’re sharing some of the key takeaways, plus the audio and video replay of the community chat.
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How To Improve Your On-Camera Performance

My senior year at the Princeton of the Plains, Kansas State University, I took a storytelling class from a wonderful women named Charlotte McFarland. The purpose was to develop spontaneity and on camera performance.

The local cable TV station filmed our class doing our final storytelling performances of the semester. When I watched my segment air one week later, my first thought was, “You sure are a handsome guy Jon.” My second thought was, “Love the pink paisley shirt.” My third thought was, “Dude, you have no camera presence. You look nervous, you look scared, you look reserved and you’re mumbling.” So, I went about trying to fix those things.

I don’t know that I’ve improved much, but here are some top tips for improving your on camera performance.
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Tips for Marketing Your Sportscasting Job Application

calendar with date circled for follow up

An STAA member called me to vent about the job market. He’s been a small and mid-market sportscaster for more than a decade but has struggled to earn bigger opportunities. I asked him what he’s doing to follow-up his applications. His answer stunned me. In short, he said he doesn’t follow-up – that is ability should speak for itself and that he didn’t feel he should have to “brown nose” anyone for the sake of getting a job.

Wow! My jaw nearly cracked when it hit the floor.
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Networking with Sportscasters at the Next Level

A friend of mine is the best relationship builder I have met in sports broadcasting.

When CBS came to his town to telecast a PGA Tour event, he went to the production truck. Not only did he meet Jim Nantz, he also met one of the executive producers in charge of hiring talent.

When he visited a nearby big city, he introduced himself to the athletic director at a local university, and what do you know, he ended up getting play-by-play opportunities for the school.

When he wanted to meet the hiring executives at the Big 10 Network, he told them he was going to be in Chicago where they’re headquartered and asked if he could stop by. They said yes.

Here are some top tips for networking with sportscasters at the next level.
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How To Make The Jump To DI Play-by-Play

Years ago I applied for the play-by-play job at my alma mater, Kansas State University. I went to school there; I was a walk on in the basketball program there and my dad is an alumnus and had ties with some big boosters. I thought I had a good shot at the job.

Wrong.
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John Wooden’s Methods Will Help You Improve Your Sportscasting Craft

The late UCLA basketball coach John Wooden is my greatest mentor outside of my Dad. I never met Coach Wooden but he’s had a profound influence on my life, largely through books.

One thing I loved about Coach was how he taught: instruction, demonstration, repetition and correction.

Coach Wooden’s methods will help you improve your sports broadcasting craft.
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Amarillo Bulls job is Shelley’s reward for proactive approach

(July 19, 2019) Instead of waiting for opportunity, Mark Shelley seized it. An STAA member, Shelley is the new Director of Broadcasting, Media and Community Relations for the NAHL’s Amarillo Bulls.

“I had been searching for a hockey-specific job for the last two hiring seasons, with very little success in finding an opening that would even give me a call or email,” Shelly recalls. “When I noticed the heads-up in the STAA Job Leads email about the current broadcaster leaving the Bulls, I decided to change my strategy and reach out to the GM before there was an official job posting. A day after reaching out, I was interviewing with [General Manager Rick Matchett].”

Shelley made certain to be timely in his replies to Matchett’s emails. “To show that I truly wanted this position,” he says.

The Bulls intrigued Shelley because of the caliber of hockey, the organization’s success and the opportunity to immerse himself in the sport. “I have an opportunity to work in media relations while also getting back into the sales side of things, something that I have missed and truly enjoy. The organization is welcoming, and I am excited to be a part of the family,” Shelley says with a smile.

Not all job applications have been as easy for Shelley as his Bulls application. “I was seeing jobs that I applied for be filled without ever getting a call or an email. Some of the jobs were jobs that I felt that I was the perfect fit. Even though I never got calls back, I didn’t get discouraged.”

A key for Shelley was establishing a network of people to give honest critiques of his work. “They told me why they would or would not hire me, and I used that to make myself better in those areas. I found that, sometimes, the most brutally honest opinions of your work are the ones that are the most constructive.”

Shelley joined STAA in 2017 upon the recommendation of Hershey Bears broadcaster Zack Fisch. “I reached out to Zack to ask for advice on getting into hockey. He referred me to STAA.

“I joined STAA because I wanted to be the best broadcaster I could possibly be. As a fresh-faced broadcaster right out of college, I needed guidance on how to go about the job search and how to prepare myself for the job that I wanted.”

Shelley has spent the past year calling play-by-play for various sports and hosting a daily talk show on ESPN Ithaca. He’s also been the voice of Cornell women’s ice hockey the past two seasons.

Shelly is a 2017 graduate of Mansfield University of Pennsylvania. He graduated Cum Laude.

His advice to someone just joining STAA is simple. “I would tell them that they made one of the best decisions of their life,” he grins. “Whether you’re looking for a new job or just wanting to get better in your broadcasting skills, STAA has the tools to help you reach your goals.”

(Visit Mark’s website).