The first time I had to broadcast a football game by myself was 1989, McPherson (KS) High School versus Ark City. For a reason I don’t remember, my regular analyst was unavailable that night. What I do remember is what I felt.
At that point, my football play-by-play experience was limited to a handful of games. Carrying a two-hour broadcast by myself seemed impossible. I was as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. As it turns out, the things I learned that night carried me though the rest of my football play-by-play career.
Here are three steps to surviving a broadcasting football by yourself:
1. Be the analyst
In a traditional booth, the play-by-play guy’s job is to tell what happened. The analyst’s job is to explain why it happened. Working alone, you can be your own analyst. If you notice that the guy who just sacked the QB came in on a blitz, or you saw the tight end make a key block, mention it after you describe the play.
2. Emphasize storylines
Fill time otherwise reserved for your analyst with storylines – the plots and subplots of your play-by-play story. Consistently remind listeners what is at stake in this game, on this drive, and on this play. Also more fully develop the characters in your story. What is important or interesting about the guy who carried the ball or made the tackle on the previous play?
3. Be quiet
This is the most important and easiest to implement of the three tips. Don’t feel like you have to be talking every single moment. It is okay to occasionally have three or four seconds of dead air. Trust the ambient sound to carry those moments. Your listeners will appreciate the break from your monologue and your voice will appreciate the rest.
Good luck on your next broadcast. Make it a great one!