It takes a lot of practice to make perfect.
If nothing else, that is what I learned from doing color commentary for the Emerson Sports Network. ESN is a student-run organization that allows students to take their classroom skills and apply them in game time scenarios.
After years of watching countless broadcasts from a vast array of sporting events, I subconsciously started to take commentary for granted. It had always been a part of the game; and it was almost always carried out with such ease, passion and seemingly infinite knowledge that my immediate reaction was a dismissive, “how hard can it be?” I learned the answer very quickly.
One of the most essential themes throughout my sports reporting class is “be your own hardest critic.” So, upon receiving this assignment I began sieving through the headlines, deciding which game commentary to analyze. Then, all of a sudden it hit me. I was going to critique myself.
Last week I had the pleasure of doing color commentary for the ESN’s broadcast of the Emerson women’s basketball team as they took on St.Joseph College. In order to give an accurate, inclusive critique of that broadcast I have to start from the beginning, the research process.
The one aspect that became overwhelmingly clear is the importance of “doing your homework.” As a student, I can read the significance of research and preparation for hundreds of pages, but it was not until I was put on the spot and expected to produce informative, entertaining conversation for nearly an hour that I realized how demanding that process actually is.
I spent over an hour going through school websites, memorizing statistics, key players, off the bench players, scores and records, but that was only the tip of the iceberg. Reading boxes scores and post game write-ups is not nearly enough background information to execute a professional broadcast. One night of cramming will never suffice for attending games, identifying an audience and developing an understanding of team dynamics.
Preparation is not only important for statistical reasons, but for confidence. After creating a thorough outline of information I felt that I had a pretty good grip on the game. I was excited! My friend and club hockey teammate, James Bass was on the talent list for play by play. I went into the game with the mentality that I was simply an overly informed fan happy to share my thoughts.
My goal for the day was to combine a fans enthusiasm with a professional insight. I wanted my broadcast to come across as a sophisticated yet entertaining conversation with an old friend. However, this is where the saying “it takes a lot of practice to make perfect” comes in.
At the end of the day I was satisfied with our broadcast. We were light hearted and witty, or at least I’d like to think so, but we still provided an insight into what was happening on the court. With the good comes the bad, and there is no denying that we were unprepared. That is not to say we were unenthused or lacking the will to perform our best. On the contrary, the reality of the situation is that neither one of us are basketball fanatics and I believe that significantly hindered our performance.
As an athlete, I can watch just about any sport and have some legitimate insight and appreciation. Female commentators are few and far between and that is an industry I would love to tap into. Combining my enthusiasm with the skill set I have obtained to present a professional broadcast on hockey or soccer would be a dream come true. After watching hundreds of games with my dad, male cousins or even strangers, I truly believe I have the ability to compete with the professionals.
Practicing these skills for ESN was a great opportunity that is important to utilize. While I gained experience I could not learn any other way, I also learned basketball is not my forte.