Although I have no way to prove it, I had been thinking of this topic for a while before Logan Anderson and his excellent sportscasting resource, Say the Damn Score, beat me to the punch. But since the internet loves life hacks, and we sportscasters live on the internet, I’d still like to present my collection of life hacks for sportscasters that both concur and differ from Logan’s list above.
Logan starts his list with an ode to duct tape and it’s hard to argue with him. Duct tape is amazing and extremely useful, however I’ll disagree with him on it being “the tape” for sportscasters for a few key points. First, electrical tape is typically much smaller to carry around, and when you’re on the road and space is at a premium, then electrical tape is the way to go. I use electrical tape to repair split casings on my wires (in a pinch, I replace them when I get home), I use it to tape things to walls or desks like prep sheets and spotting boards, and I use to to secure microphones in place that I may dangle over ledges to pick up crowd noise. An average roll of electrical tape lasts me a few weeks, which gives you an idea of how much I use it.
Honourable mention to clear scotch tape which also does the job, albeit not as well.
Gel Insoles for your Shoes
Again one that I’m borrowing from Logan’s list, but with a twist. I was recently put onto gel insoles from Brock Sawyer, a coach of the team I work for. For $20, I can convert just about any pair of shoes into cloud shoes. Whether the full insole, or just the heel, these beauties can make standing for 3 hours (as I do when calling hockey) a breeze, and not fatigue your feet or legs as much along the way.
DIY Movie Theatre
Full credit on this one goes to Brady Lake who was the trainer of the team I work for (he’s since moved up to the AHL) who found this gem for me and gave it as a Christmas gift. This tablet holder straps around the seat in front of me on the bus and makes for hands free movie watching. The elastic straps hold my table firmly in place and prevent it from flapping around when the bus is barreling down the highway. Pair it up with an external battery pack and you’ve got near endless movie watching from anywhere on the planet.
In the event you need to run an extension cable for power, the loop trick can be a lifesaver. Logan’s list advocates for taping down cables with duct tape, and while that’s again tough to argue, I’ve found this way to be a bit simpler, and cuts down on sticky residue on cables. Simply tie the ends together like a shoelace before you plug them in. Now it doesn’t matter how hard they get pulled apart, you’ll always have power.
Cell Phone Backup
This one is less a life hack and more just solid preparation. Make sure that you have a way to send your signal back to your radio station or online streaming service from your phone in the event that you suffer a catastrophic failure on air. Whether it’s a headset breaking or a mixer blowing up, it’s only a matter of time before you face a challenge like this. Set your phone up ahead of time to deal with this potential situation by downloading relevant apps, or saving the needed contacts in your phone. For me, I have the Discord app on standby in case I need to go to that during a game.
So there’s a handful of life hacks for sportscasters that you can work into your next broadcast. Most are fairly simple (as all good life hacks are), however they’re handy ways to ensure you’re ready for just about any situation that could crop up while you’re on air. What are some of your favourite sportscasting life hacks?