Recently I had the opportunity to speak to a high school class on the nature about sportscasting. The class was filled with grade 10 and 11 students who were being introduced to a variety of new and interesting careers. After I was invited, I actively wondered what an aspiring sportscaster would ask me.
I remember when I was an aspiring sportscaster…I had so many questions but at the same time I had no idea what to ask. I’d seen sportscasters on TV, I knew my sports well but in terms of the nuts and bolts of the job, I had no clue. So I was interested in what these kids would ask.
Here’s three of the questions they raised, and the answers I gave.
1. Do you have any catchphrases that you use or plan?
We’ve discussed catchphrases on Sportscaster Life before, and my view on them is pretty simple…I hate them. If you go into a game with pre-planned things that you want to say, you close yourself down to so many options and opportunities for different descriptions.
I do have one “signature phrase” which I use at the end of every broadcast…and that’s “bye now”. It’s a tribute to an Australian broadcaster who was influential to me growing up as a kid and is a succinct way to end a broadcast. As for other catchphrases, I try not to use them. I have favourite words and descriptors that I lean on more than others, however no “boom goes the dynamite” type phrases.
One area where I do pre-plan a little is in my vocabulary. While it can be easy to get carried away, I did find going into a game with 2 or 3 words I wanted to use (when appropriate) helped. These could be alternate descriptors for passes or shots, or fun adjectives to describe the play to the atmosphere. I never forced myself to use them, I just had them on hand if the opportunity arose.
2. What’s the best thing about being a sportscaster?
This one I was anticipating pretty early on and I wasn’t disappointed. I described the job to an aspiring sportscaster who had asked the question and then told him my favourite parts.
We get paid to watch sport. We get paid to travel, we get paid to be authorities on teams and leagues and communities. We get to be (minor) celebrities in our communities and we have the coolest job.
It doesn’t come without sacrifice though. We miss a lot of family moments, we miss Thanksgivings and Christmas’, birthdays and anniversaries. We miss milestones with our children, date nights with our partners.
Like most things in life, it’s a trade off. For every game I’ve called or chat with a fan I’ve had…I’ve missed meals with my wife or milestones from my son or time with my extended family.
3. Should I go to school to be a sportscaster?
Another topic we covered recently on Sportscaster Life, the need for a sportscasting degree or some sort of formal education if you’re an aspiring sportscaster. My answer remains no, and if you’re going to pursue post-secondary education as a sportscaster, you’re better of studying a related discipline and developing secondary skills.
Instead of getting a degree in sports broadcasting, go to journalism school and learn how to tell a story. Go learn video editing, graphic design, web design, creative writing, business. Sportscasting is a skill that can be developed better through experience, not by classroom time…however getting professional instruction on the skills listed above (and many more) can be a massive boost to an aspiring sportscaster.
It was inspiring to see what could be the next generation of sportscasters ask great questions about a unique career. I had a couple stay after and talk a little bit about prep with me, another asked if he could keep some of the spotting boards and roster sheets I bought with me.
What would you tell an aspiring sportscaster about the career, the industry and the demands it makes of you? Let us know on social media or in the comments below.