It’s common wisdom for athletes to cross-train. Seldom to the world’s best focus strictly on one sport, twelve months a year…they branch out, they try new things. New sports work new muscles and develop new skills and it can be the same for sportscasters. But what specifically can you learn from broadcasting different sports?
We’ve compiled a list of certain sports and valuable lessons you can take from them if you regularly are broadcasting different sports. Every play-by-play experience can be educational and help refine your “regular” beat or game of choice.
A slow sport with lots of time to fill. With an average game length just over three hours, baseball teaches you pacing and conversation. It also teaches you how to let the game breathe and how to let silence and the crowd carry your broadcast from time to time.
Unlike many other sports, there’s a lot of nothing followed up by a quick burst of action when it comes to basketball. Very little happens as a team brings the ball up the court, very little happens as they work it around the three-point arc…then you get the pass down low or the shot attempt or the pick and roll or the alley-oop and you have to be ready. Basketball teaches you to sit on that edge and always be ready to shift into another gear.
Few sports stop and setup like football. Like basketball, there’s a lot of dead time followed by bursts of action. Football teaches you the setup of sportscasting. It teaches you to say the damn score (hi Logan) and the down/yardage before every play, it teaches you how to read and communicate formations. Football is also a great storytelling sport, like baseball. You have the time in between plays to dive deeper into players or teams.
Few sports teach you word economy quite like hockey. A constant movement of the puck forces you to get to an almost auctioneer-like status where you’re constantly in a position to break into a goal call. Hockey is also great for allowing the crowd to tell the game. The sounds of the ice and the crowd often in close quarters can often tell you more than you could ever say.
This is baseball without the bats. If you’re lucky, you might get a couple of goals in a soccer game so your prep and your storytelling ability had better be on point. You’re required to fill 90+ minutes of game time with very few highlights and game talking points to fall back on.
I can’t think of another sport here half the action is completely obscured. So much happens under the water in water polo but we seldom see it so this sport teaches you to call what you can see. Yes there’s action going on under the water, but if you can’t see it then you can’t call it and you’d be doing a disservice to your audience to even try.
What has broadcasting different sports taught you? Let us know in the comments or on social media.
Note: Make life a little easier when calling new sports by using the Sportscaster Life scorebooks for baseball, hockey, basketball and football. Designed by sportscasters, for sportscasters. Available here.