You love watching sports. You love to talk. And a career where you get paid to go both of those things seems like it’s too good to be true. But to get started in sportscasting can be a very daunting prospect that comes with a lot of brick walls you’re forced to fight through, climb over or knock down.
Already on Sportscaster Life we’ve danced around this topic a few times, by sharing stories of how famous sportscasters got started, or how I began my career. So just how do you get started in sportscasting? Here’s three ways that can help kick start your career.
Just Do It
The famous Nike slogan is particularly apt here to get started in sportscasting, because there is no more simpler way. Just go and be a sportscaster. Now obviously it’s much more complicated than that, however the sentiment remains. Look around your community and find a team and sport that you would like to broadcast for. Are you a big hockey fan? Then look for local rep teams, Junior teams in the region or other avenues that aren’t broadcasting. If you approach them with an offer to call games in exchange for the experience then you’ll be welcomed in 99 times out of 100.In many cases, fear gets in the way…the fear of rejection or the fear of humiliation. Those are two fears that are constant in sportscasting and it’s important to be able to deal with them. What better place than when you’re looking for your first gig. For me, I got started in Major Midget rep hockey (15-17 year olds) and moved up the ranks from there. Whether it’s a weekend warrior group, or a structured team…make the offer and get some reps in.
If the answer from a team is no, focus on tournaments in the region. I’m calling a week long hockey tournament soon, then a National Championship after that…despite not being with a regular team this season. Every bit helps.
Do it Anyway
Lets say that you can’t find a team that’s willing to have you broadcast for them in the area, or maybe just not right now. What’s stopping you from going to a game as a fan and calling it to yourself? A small voice recorder, or even your cell phone is a perfectly acceptable audio recording device. Find a spot high up, as close to centre as you can without bothering anyone and call the game into your recorder. Not only will this give you some great practice, but it can also service as great material for your first demo reel. If the audio quality is good, how would a prospective employer know you were there as a fan and not as a proper broadcaster?
Take your show on the road (to your home)
This one is all about getting your reps in…get started, get comfortable with the game you want to broadcast. In my case it was hockey, and the avenue that helped propel me towards a career in sportscasting was the EA Sports series of games. Setting up the NHL series on my computer or Playstation, switching the camera to a broadcast style and turning the commentary off allowed me to watch a semi-realistic game with varying degrees of difficulty. I started with the names on screen so I could identify players easily and focus on the pacing. Then I’d gradually increase the speed and remove the names (going to numbers, then nothing at all). Eventually it resembled a real game where I could hone my craft.From there, I found games on TV that I’d DVR and I’d broadcast those. I’d particularly go after lower level (even junior) games where I could record my broadcast and again use it as demo material. If you’re applying for a job, an employer might get suspecious if you’re calling names like Crosby, or Curry or Brady or Bautista…but using lesser known players can do two things. First, it’ll help you get better with player identification since you can probably spot a star easily, but lesser knowns force you to work. And secondly, it helps begin to create demo reel material.
Sportscasting is unique, and to get started in sportscasting can be tricky. It’s an industry that doesn’t have a set path…a road most travelled. In many cases it’s unlike being an accountant or a lawyer or a teacher where you go to school, major in that career, intern or find a low level job and find yourself at a firm or a school or an office. Sportscasting is often about experience and networking…and any one of these steps will help you in both of those departments.