Sometimes when networking or building a book of connections, we forget that it’s not only coaches who can help us advance our careers and improve our calls. It’s no secret that sportscasters are sometimes left out of the loop regarding team news. Trades, new players, and special circumstances always seem to pop up and it’s a common occurrence for the information to never make it to the sportscaster. So how do we save ourselves? We actively seek out information by creating good relationships with select people in our organization. Here are five non-broadcasting friends, aside from SIDs and head coaches, that you’ll want to have in your corner on a nightly basis.
1. Assistant Coaches – This one might be a cop-out on my part, but sometimes the assistant coaches can be your best friends when you need a simple piece of information. Need to know who’s injured and might not play the game? I bet an assistant coach would be more willing to divulge the info than the head coach himself/herself. They’re the ones that can clue you in on the day-to-day operations of the team, especially if you’re not around the team during practices. Save the Head Coach/Manager for the big stuff, when you need a real interview, and bother the assistants for the little nuggets of information you need to spice up your call. In the injury department, assistant coaches often know who’s playing and who’s not. Whenever you hear information regarding an injury of a player, always ask directly if that information is allowed to be included in your broadcast or not. If you feel the slightest hesitation in their voice, keep the information to yourself.
2. Athletic Trainer – It’s obvious that the athletic trainer has their pulse on the entire team’s health. They’re the ones that are stitching, stretching, and taping injuries. While a great working friendship with an athletic trainer can be a blessing to know who’s in or out for the next game, it’s something you have to be very careful about approaching. First of all, there may be HIPPA laws which can come into play depending on what the injury or illness is regarding certain players. Some trainers will refuse to offer up information, and that’s okay, don’t push. There are other ways to get the information you need and ultimately if you never find out what you need, you can adapt. You’re a professional. The other thing to consider is, just because the athletic trainer, or anyone else for that matter, is sharing information with you, doesn’t mean you should be broadcasting it. It might be okay for you to know that a player is sitting out the upcoming game because of an injury, but I’ve seen it where the coach doesn’t want to make the information public. It makes it harder on the opponents to plan, or it’s for the safety of the player. If you find out some injury information from someone, who is not an assistant coach or above, make sure you double-check with the coaching staff about the releasing of that information during your broadcast.
3. Equipment Managers – This one has bailed me out on numerous occasions in the hockey world. There have been times when a player is invited to practice with our team and actually gets the chance to play in a game, and if I wasn’t friends with our equipment manager, I’d have never known. A lot of that stuff happens under the radar, and they are always one of the first to know. The equipment manager is the one who sews on the nameplate, gets a locker room label ready, and is often times the first person that a new player talks to after the head coach. They discuss how the player likes his pads or what kind of wax they like to use. When you need to know what number a player who just arrived will be wearing, a quick text to the equipment manager can help you out in a pinch. Similarly, the equipment manager can also help inform you of non-obvious injuries. Maybe he’s sewn in some extra padding inside the player’s glove to protect a broken wrist, or maybe the equipment manager plans on installing a different type of facemask to prevent aggravating a facial cut or another head injury. Just remember the rule about injuries, always ask the coaching staff if the specific injury can be spoken about or not.
4. Statistician – Here’s another person who has their finger on the pulse. They know almost instantaneously who got credit for that goal, or who leads the team in court time. If you are the type of broadcaster who doesn’t have a laptop open during your call or if you’re in a league where the website just doesn’t update fast enough to be of any benefit, the statistician can be one your best friends. Shoot a text to the statistician if you have a question mid-game if you missed something, and I bet he/she would be more than happy to help you out!
5. Grounds Crew/Arena Staff – We are storytellers on the mic, and what good is a story without it’s setting? A friend in the grounds crew or on the arena staff is always a great thing to have. Need to know how the field is holding up after a rainstorm? Want to know if the warmer than usual temperature is effecting the ice? It might explain for some of the gameplay throughout the course of the night and give you something to comment to your listeners/views about.
We’re only as good as the information we have and as wordsmiths and authors of live events, we need as much as we can get. Broadcasting is relaying that information to our listeners and filling in the blanks they have since they’re likely not at the game. The best way to accumulate important information is by being friendly with everyone you meet and develop relationships with those who can benefit your call.