There is a sure-fire way to fail at sports broadcasting. Not a specific technique or lack of skill that will cause your demise, but rather an overall approach. Learn this lesson, and learn what not to do.
Nearly 20 years ago, while broadcasting minor league baseball, I encountered two truly great guys. This duo was the broadcast team for a division rival, which meant we caught up with each other a dozen times per season.
The two broadcasters shared the same name - Joe. (no, not their real name) However, they were so different that we gave them each a nickname. One was Professional Joe and the other was Unprofessional Joe. Here's why.
Professional Joe would show up to the ballpark hours before the game, diligently preparing himself for the broadcast. This guy knew what it took to succeed in sports broadcasting. Unprofessional Joe, meanwhile, would strut in casually shortly before first pitch.
Professional Joe dressed the part - cleanly shaved in neat pants and a collared shirt. Unprofessional Joe usually hadn't touched a razor in days, and was usually decked out in shorts and a t-shirt.
Professional Joe would invest time near the dugout and batting cage before the game, curiously asking players questions and gathering valuable information to spice up his broadcast. Unprofessional Joe used to hang out in the dugout before the game too - literally, he used to hang from the top of the dugout and practice quasi-gymnastic moves to draw a laugh.
Both Professional Joe and Unprofessional Joe were terrific guys, the kind you'd enjoy spending an evening at the ballpark with. Their overall approach, however, was what separated these two friends and broadcast partners.
Unprofessional Joe wasn't part of the team's broadcast crew the following season. Unprofessional sports broadcasters usually don't stick around very long.
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Related Book: Confessions of a Baseball Purist - Jon Miller discusses sportscasting professionalism. Because he dressed the part as a youngster, he was treated as a professional. (That meant keeping his tie on during long flights!)