Elon professor wrote the book on sports broadcasting

By Isaac Groves / Times-News Original Article

ELON — Max Negin’s career path began when he was a kid listening to Harry Kalas do the play by play of Phillies baseball games.

When he realized he was not going to play, he started thinking about Kalas, Merrill Rece, voice of the Philadelphia Eagles, and Gene Heart, announcer for the Philadelphia Flyers, and what they did.

“These are the guys who brought me the stories of the games and the players,” Negin said. “It goes from listening to Harry Kalas in my room in southern Jersey to Beijing.”

Now 43, Negin teaches sports broadcasting as an assistant professor at Elon University, and just wrote a book with Marc Zumoff, play-by-play announcer for the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers, about sports broadcasting and how to break into the business.

“Total Sportscasting: Performance, Production and Career Development” is a textbook, but with Zumoff’s input it does some things other broadcasting textbooks do not, Negin said: It gives the perspective from both sides of the camera and gives the kind of early career advice Negin said he had to get by word of mouth as he came up in the business.

Negin spent years behind the scenes in sports broadcasting working as an editor, writer and producer for NBC, ABC, FOX, ESPN and HBO, among others. He is still active, and was a digital media manager for NBC’s Olympics coverage from Beijing to Sochi, and hopes to go to Rio in 2016.

Negin is in his sixth year teaching at Elon, and thinks part of his role is explaining the crooked path people take to get a role in sports broadcasting. It is not like accounting, he said, where you get a degree in accounting and then get an accounting job.

“Whether you’re in front of or behind the camera, it’s going to take time to get the job you want,” Negin said.

As Zumoff puts it, you usually have to get a job close to the job you want and wait for an opportunity. Negin tells his students they might take a job doing general news at a TV station, and use their time getting to know the business and the people so they have a good shot at the sports job when it opens up.

“So you can just slide over,” Negin said. “This is hard, but it’s worth it.”

Sports, like all broadcasting, Negin said, is about storytelling. But sports are unpredictable.

“You can plan for a lot,” Negin said, “but there’s a lot of gray area.”

There is also a lot of teamwork, with scores or hundreds of people working together in what he calls a “free jazz kind of thing” to tell the story.

Sports broadcasting is changing a lot, Negin said, with digital media and new sports networks. He thinks his students may need to write, operate the camera and be on camera, but he thinks there remains a good living to be made bringing sports to viewers.

“Sports is the original reality TV, and the strength of sports is that people want to watch it live,” Negin said. “So in some ways, it’s protected from streaming, binge watching and time shifting.”

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