Sports Machine: The Light at the End of the Tunnel

The countdown is on!! We only have 20 days of class left.

For those of you that are jealous because you are in school until June, let’s talk in July when we start back! The last month of school is often the toughest because of testing, spring fever, senior-itis, and simply being tired of the grind.

May also means baseball playoffs. Unfortunately for us, the two teams in our county that made the state playoffs were knocked out in the first round. This means that the regularly scheduled sports season is over for us. The baseball playoffs in Georgia are interesting because you can’t really plan anything during those 3 weeks. The way the bracket works is the first 2 games are a double header at the highest seed’s home and the game 3 if needed is the following day - unless the first 2 games are a Saturday then the “if needed” is Monday! The key to making sure you have the best plan is to plan for the worst and hope for the best. Go ahead and plan as though game 3 is going to happen. It is better to have a crew lined up and not need them than to need them and not have a plan to get them.

Again when covering baseball the biggest focus should be the plate area and then following the ball as best you can but that can sometimes be a challenge.. I have had the pleasure this season ofSports01 375 working with a top notch play by play guy who knows the game extremely well. This has helped to cover the games at times when less experienced camera operators were behind the sticks. Good play by play helps to make sure the viewer knows what is going on even if they can’t see it. A good play by play person not only knows the game but keeps a book while they are calling it. Keeping the book is a great skill and helps them to stay up on the game story as it develops. If a player has struggled at the plate the entire series, the play by play guy will know because he/she has kept the book.

Playoff baseball can be some of the most passion filled times you experience all season. It can also be some of the most intimidating. Several years ago, we covered the Class A Private Championship games. The games were hosted at a legion field on the opposite side of Atlanta from us. The field was beautiful. When we arrived 3 hours before the game, the parking lot and the stands were filled. The scene was set for a great day of baseball and on this particular day, I got to be the play by play guy. I typically don’t make a lot of small talk on the day of a broadcast because I am focussing on the task at hand. As a matter of fact, I can be a lot reclusive until the game starts. The last 15 minutes or so before a broadcast are the most nerve wracking for me. I am questioning everything - will the video work, are the graphics right, etc. This day was no different….until, I hear “are you sure you know what you are doing?” It was a voice I had heard a million times but it was so out of place that I couldn’t place it. It was none other than Braves Hall Of Fame Manager Bobby Cox. Talk about pressure. I usually don’t even think about the crowd at a game but now I was aware of the ever present yellow button down sitting over my right shoulder cheering for his grandson. Playoffs bring out the best on the field and you should bring your best to the airwaves.

Sports02 375This starts with preparing for the game. Get stats. Every coach for every team in America has stats. You have to ask for them. Most programs now use a site called GameChanger. (I use it for my son’s little league team…). GameChanger keeps stats on literally every pitch of a game. Ask if the school you are preparing for has that and you are good to go. The most important thing about a baseball broadcast is to show the passion the guys on the field have for the sport!

The most important thing in all high school student’s lives is graduation. You can transfer your skills as a broadcaster into funds and recognition for your program in one (our in our case 3) hours. Graduation is the pinnacle event for all students for obvious reasons. High school graduation is the first measure of success in the life of all American students. High school graduations are EXTREMELY easy to produce.

First things first, get good audio. Find out who the audio person for the event is and ask them for an output. This way, anything that goes into the graduation experience on the field goes into your broadcast. We have done this for the last 6 or so years so now the production companies expect us and sometimes will actually run the line for us before we arrive.

The next most important thing is to find out where the diploma/handshake event will happen. This is what everyone wants to see. We set up so we can focus on the student’s face as they receive the diploma. This shot can be stationary because there is very little movement during the longest part of the ceremony.

Finally, the speakers. The final thing to make sure you have is a shot of the podium. We usually set the up from the back of the venue behind the graduates in order to get a wide shot of the graduates as well as to tighten in on what we need at the podium.

Graduations are really quite simple. In the past, we have asked the schools to add $5 to the graduation dues and we would burn a DVD copy of the ceremony for them. We are no longer doing this because of the time and expense (And the time) it takes to burn 300-400 dvds. This year, we are selling a sponsorship of the broadcast. We will only sell one sponsor. The sponsor will receive a custom :30 commercial that we will air just before the graduates enter the area as well as at the end of the broadcast. They will also receive a logo bug and a scroll during the broadcast thanking them for the sponsorship.

We are headed to the home stretch guys. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Stay strong, stay focused and remember that what we do matters.

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TomWhiteHeadshot 175Tom White is a video production teacher at the Rockdale Career Academy in Conyers. GA. Tom is also the director of the Sports Broadcast Institute, which is One of Five Georgia Governor’s Innovation in Education award winning programs and the NFHS Network Best Overall Program. The Sports Broadcast Institute works to  produce live broadcasts, newscasts, sports documentaries and more for the Three schools, Rockdale Co, Salem, and Heritage High schools, that the career academy serves. Prior to teaching, Tom was a marketing, promotions, and online content director for a major radio corporation in Atlanta. Tom studied exercise science at High Point University prior to his radio career. Despite his winding career path, his mother still thinks he is special.