Uncovering new things is a daily experience in our industry. Each and every story or event that a news or sportscaster covers has its own unique characteristics. But this was something totally different—this would be a sport I’ve never covered. And after nearly 35 years in this business, I did just that, performing play-by-play for a professional soccer game on Comcast Sportsnet last Wednesday July 20But don’t fool yourself. This can change in an instant. It’s like golf. If you’ve ever played the game, you know it often replicates life itself. Just when you think, “hey golf is easy,” it turns around and bites you in the leg. Suddenly, you go from playing very well to playing as if you’d never played the game before.
For me, it presented some unique challenges. I had to learn not only more about my local team (the Philadelphia Union, of which I am a season-ticket holder) but I had to delve deeply into the opponent, English Premiere League side Everton FC, of whom I’d known little or nothing.
Suffice it to say, the research was a challenge. But even more so was taking a new game plus all of this strange information and trying to sound like I’d been calling the sport for years. While the telecast seemed to go off OK, it didn’t’ come as easily as, say, a 76ers game, a sport I’ve been doing for 17 years. As a broadcaster, I found myself taking a beat—a little extra time—to make sure name pronunciations, facts and indeed the call itself was what it needed to be.
And that’s probably the best advice I can give in a situation like this. When, as a broadcaster, you are presented with a brand new challenge, give it the research it deserves. Then, be prepared to deliver that information a little differently—a little more deliberately perhaps—because it’s still relatively unfamiliar territory. While you may notice the difference in your performance, it’s understandable. And hopefully you’ll have the opportunity to cover the material again, which will ultimately lead to you (and me!) being more comfortable.
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