When fans sit at home and watch their favorite team or player on the television it is pretty easy for them. Kick the feet up and relax while you watch and listen. For the announcers that are actually there, it is a completely different situation.
Announcers spend hours, even days, before the game getting everything from the player’s name and story to their stats from last season and this season. They are all trying to find “nuggets” that will bring the broadcast alive. All of this information could be put in a 10-page paper but announcers have to have it all fit on a piece of paper that is no bigger than one that you see laying on your desk.
Adam Young, who works for NM Sports Properties and calls football, men’s and women’s basketball, baseball, and softball for New Mexico State University, is a strong believer in preparation.
Young said it was something that he realized early on in his career and says it takes some young broadcasters a lot of time to do so.
“The preparation part of it is the most important part of the broadcast. If you go into it unprepared, you not going to have success.”
The listener might not know how much time and effort you have put into getting ready. And it shouldn’t matter to them.
“People don’t see the behind-the-scenes stuff,” he said. “Some people think you just put the headset on and you go, and that is so far from the truth.”
Young graduated from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville in 2010 and then shortly got his first true taste of broadcasting, in St. Louis at KFNS where he served as a play-by-play broadcaster for their high school games of the week. He then moved to his alma mater to call Women’s basketball games for SIUE until he got the job as the play-by-play voice of New Mexico State in 2014. He does both radio and television at NMSU.
For a broadcaster, being comfortable is one of the most important things they can do besides calling the game. If they are comfortable so is the listener.
Dave Collins, a play-by-play broadcaster for Eagle Communications who calls all sports for Chadron State, says the number one reason he makes his spotter charts: is to be comfortable.
“There’s a comfortability in the process of building a spotter chart,” Collins said. “To where you know where information is in a split second and you have already looked at it and processed it during the week so it comes back to you through the mind even quicker.”
Collins graduated from the University of Colorado and landed a job working for KSID Radio in Sidney, Nebraska. He spent his next 11 years at KSID Radio calling high school sports before landing his gig with Eagle Communications in 2015.
Young is a prime example of what all announcers do, writing down a bunch of information that they might not ever touch in the game or all season. People may wonder why t
hey do this and it all goes back to being comfortable.
“I write a lot of stuff for my spotting boards that…I don’t necessarily need to remember,” he said. “When I write it down and see that I got everything in there it helps me feel a little more comfortable.”
Just like Young, Collins mentioned how many fans think that all they do is show up for the game and look at the same roster sheets that everyone else in the arena gets. They have to put together the spotter charts not only for comfortability but also because it brings a lot of confidence to the broadcast.
“Whether or not you use any of the stuff on your chart,” Collins said. “You go into the game with such high confidence and that is huge in a successful broadcast, of having that confidence from your research and also having the chart in front of you.”
In his broadcasts, Collins has remembered a handy rule one of his mentors taught him when he was in college at the University of Colorado.
“Two hours of preparation for every one hour you are going to be on the air.”
He does admit though that now that he has been in the business for so long he really doesn’t keep track of how long he does his prep work for he just kinda knows when he is ready.
Joel Godett, the Director of Broadcasting at Ball State University says having spotter charts is everything.
“I’m not the best memorizer, so I reference my boards all the time.”
Godett says his father forced him to go to a broadcasting camp put on by Bruce Beck and Ian Eagle when he was younger.
Going into it Godett says was thinking that it was going to be dumb. Instead, he thought it was the coolest thing ever, and from then on it has always been about sports broadcasting for him.
After high school, Godett attended Syracuse University, arguably one of the best broadcasting schools in the country graduated and started his career at the University of South Florida as a creative and multimedia coordinator. From there bounced around to a few other different colleges before finally getting his current job at Ball State University in 2012.
Some broadcasters want just a few things on the board so it doesn’t become cluttered but Godett isn’t one of those guys. He wants as much information at his fingertips.
“I am a complete prep nerd. Sometimes to my detriment I like to have as much information at my fingertips as humanly possible.”
Godett, Young, and Collins are only three examples of how important spotting charts are to all sports broadcasters. Preparation is the lifeblood for sports broadcasters.
Next time you are watching a game just think about how many hours of prep announcers have done just to get ready for a game. They’re doing it all for you, the listener, and the viewer.