It’s no secret that sportscasting is not a lucrative career. Don’t get me wrong, top network talent are earning MEGA BUCKS, but for the large majority of those calling games at the high school and college level, the challenge of financing your passion can be a real challenge. It was a big part of our Five Myths about Sportscasting where people think they’ll get rich calling games. As I said there, if you’re making your age, you’re doing well.
So why do we do it? We call games because we’re passionate about sportscasting. It’s a great industry that comes with a lot of costs, both personal and literal. It was a question that Dean Jackson posed to me when chatting about sportscasting, the steps we take and the sacrifices we make when it comes to financing your passion, funding our habit, making ends meet.
It made me think about my own path into sportscasting. When I decided to make a career move and start doing play-by-play for Junior hockey, I left a secure, well paying union job for a per-game payment. Add it all up and I took a 95% pay cut to follow my dream. Fortunately my girlfriend at the time (now my wife) was in a secure profession and helps pay bills…but the picture was very clear: start financing your passion or debt will grow.
In five years calling Junior hockey games, here are the jobs I had on the side to support my career:
- Delivering appliances and furniture for the local Sears Hometown store (three days a week)
- Summer Terminal Attendant at BC Ferries (on call, wildly fluctuating hours, lots of graveyards)
- News and Sports Reporter at the local radio station (40 hours a week paid, often worked more)
- Summer Terminal Attendant at BC Ferries (again….on call, wildly fluctuating hours, lots of graveyards)
- Manager of a local sign shop in charge of design, inventory and workflow (40 hours a week, minus travel. Employers were AWESOME about my hockey time and never questioned me leaving, but work was stressful playing catch up after missing a couple of days due to a road trip)
- Marketing, Digital Media and Administration for a local realtor friend (37.5 hours a week)
In many cases these jobs overlapped. There was a time in the spring of 2012 where I was working for Sears, the Ferries and the radio station. On many occasions I would do a graveyard shift at the terminal, then do a morning show for the radio station and then deliver fridges in the afternoon.
My case is by no means unique, and it is certainly not the worst out there. I consider myself very lucky that I’ve been able to find consistent work in a small town. Many people work multiple jobs through the season and when you add it all up, work, sportscasting, everything…it’s 90+ hour weeks sometimes. But we do it. We do it because financing your passion allows you to pursue your passion.