In an ideal world, your broadcast prep would be expansive, detailed, well researched and organized in a way that allows you to easily reference or refer to notes during a key moment in the game.
But we seldom live in an ideal world…and for broadcasters who find themselves on air multiple times in a given weekend, the challenge can often be getting your broadcast prep in order for upwards of 5-10 games a day…versus say eating and sleeping.
So how do you bridge the gap between quality broadcast prep, and seeing your loved ones? You prioritize.
This article discusses the bare bones basic information you should have before every broadcast. In 99.9% of situations, you’ll want to collect a lot more information than what we’ll cover here, but for now we’ll talk about the information that you should at the very least have in front of you when calling a game. Maybe you’ve been asked to broadcast on short notice? Or maybe you’re just starting out and not wanting to overwhelm yourself with too much info….here’s the bare bones.
First and foremost you need a roster. A proper team roster will have the names of all the players on a particular team, as well as the numbers they wear. This is crucial to have otherwise it will be next to impossible to correctly identify players correctly and consistently throughout a broadcast.
You also want to try and make sure that you have the players height and weight, or their vital statistics, to sprinkle into a broadcast. Perhaps during a hockey game there is a battle in the corner between a 6’5 defenceman and a 5’11 forward. A nice one liner to put in is something along the lines of “battle in the corner, the defenceman Jones with a 6” and 30lb advantage over the forward Smith”.
In addition to names, jersey number, height and weight, you also want to have a players home town. This can be used in a variety of different ways including linking players with similar histories, players who have played with or against each other at a lower level or players who are competing for or in their home town. This provides another nice little back story that you can lean on.
Finally, the last bit of bare bones basic information you want to make sure you have is the basic stat line for the sport you’re broadcasting. For baseball, we’re talking things like batting percentage, home runs and RBI. Hockey it’s goals, assists, points. Basketball would include things like points, assists, rebounds. All of these help you add a little more to the story by helping you identify key players, leading scorers and other interesting bits of information that the listener (or viewer) doesn’t have in front of them.
Where you’ll find this information will vary from game to game, league to league, sport to sport. In many cases, a large majority of this information will be available on a team or league website, the local newspaper or at the very least in a media or press kit that you get at the game. In the age of the internet, we have more access than ever to starts, player bios and much more.
In my career as a hockey broadcaster, I was presented with a multi-page press kit before every game that included lineups, detailed stats, game stories and more. I was also able to produce my own spotting boards and prep notes before each game.
But what do you do if you can’t find this information before a game? If you’re calling a game where the team or league doesn’t keep stats online or you’re struggling to find information then start trying to talk to people. Make contact with coaches, talk to school athletic departments and other team or league officials. In many cases where stats aren’t available online, they are kept in house, meaning that you can often get a copy of a detailed team roster or statistics if you ask for it.
Obviously there’s A LOT more information that you should be gathering before you start to broadcast a game, and it’s information that’ll make it easier for you to broadcast any sport. In the event where you’re rushed for time or short on resources, this basic list of bare bone elements should get you through in a pinch.