Sportscasters give the play-by-play and other commentary for television
or radio broadcasts of sporting events. Sportscasters can also work as sports
desk anchors, as researchers, or as reporters for a TV or radio station.
Games often have one sportscaster who gives the play-by-play commentary
and one who does color commentary. That means one is telling the viewer or
listener what is going on in the game and the other is filling in gaps during
the game's broadcast and handling the pre-game and intermission shows. Other
events will have just one announcer, who will handle both those duties.
It'd be easy to think that a sportscaster has a short day of work, but
just the opposite is true! '
Barbara Caines was the first female sportscaster to have a daily program
(she used her maiden name, Barbara Ondrusek). Caines -- who now teaches broadcast
journalism -- remembers the days being a lot of fun, but long indeed.
"I'd start off my day with phone calls to the various teams by 8:00, and
then I put together a hard-hitting report daily, put together the 6:00 sportscast,
host it, then I'd put together the 11:00, host it, and get home at one in
Sportscasters spend a lot of time preparing and finding out information,
such as which players are sick or injured, to announce on the air.
For some, like Paul Haysom, it also involves writing a script and putting
it into a package for the viewer. Haysom is a TV anchor and reporter.
"My nightly duties include either watching or attending a variety of games
and then cutting highlights, writing a script, putting it in a relevant order,
and then presenting it to the viewer," he says. "As a reporter I have to find
a good story, then figure out an angle I want to run with, go get some interviews,
get some cover, and then cut it into a two-minute story."
Sportscasters prepare for pre-game or intermission shows by interviewing
the teams and coaches, gathering statistics, and, for the intermission show,
recapping events in the game so far.
Because many TV and radio stations never go off the air, beginner sportscasters
can end up working some pretty late --or pretty early -- shifts. Lots of games
take place on the weekends or in the evenings, so be prepared to work some
Sportscasters often have a background in journalism. Some used to be athletes.
It would be tempting to think with the rise of the Internet and the popularity
of blogs that people can also be looking outside of radio and TV for experience
and an eventual career. That isn't the case, at least not yet.
"There are a lot of people who are trying [to make a career out of being
a sportscaster online], but I don't think it's been mastered just yet," says
Haysom. "I think it will happen; with Twitter and online sports sites growing,
it's only a matter of time before it will take off, but I don't think anyone
can make a living doing it just yet."
Caines says that learning how to be a sportscaster yourself by doing it
online is just not realistic. Competition is incredibly fierce for sportscasting
jobs, so only those who are the best at what they do get in. That means seeking
out the best education and training possible.
"No, you can't learn yourself. You absolutely can't," she says.
Caines says this brings up an important point: that at the beginning of
their career, a sportscaster must know to not give their opinion and simply
tell the story or narrate the game. People who have their own blogs tend to
want to be commentators, she says.
"They all want to be [famous sportscasters] Bob McKenzie or Fergie Olver.
They've been couch coaches their whole lives and know the sport inside and
out and they make great commentators, but the industry doesn't want a young
person to be a commentator. That goes to the greats, to the Bob Costas of
the world. That's the hardest thing to get across with young men; it's easier
with young women. That's why we've had a lot of young women get higher-profile
positions than some of the men, because all the men want to do is commentate."
Caines says that it can be a very tough industry for women, however. Unfortunately,
she says that she knows many female sportscasters who have quit their jobs,
or moved elsewhere, because of the pressure on them.
"A lot of them were big names on network sportscasts," she says. "They
might go to a smaller market and just cover sports for, say, Calgary, as opposed
to for TSN in Toronto. They just find the pressure of constantly proving themselves
Deb Carson is a national anchor for Fox Sports Radio in the United States.
She says it's easier for women to break into this field than it was 20 years
ago. But she says it's still harder for women than men.
"I do believe that women are still held to a higher standard than men are
when it comes to being accepted for credibility," she says. "A woman's credibility
is more immediately damaged if she makes a mistake or misspeaks on the air."
Sportscasting doesn't require a lot of physical strength. What a sportscaster
does need is a good voice, excellent memory and strong concentration skills.
Sometimes sportscasters will walk down to the game area to talk to the players.
A good amount of travelling can be involved, getting from game to game.