Eagle writer tries his hand at TV commentary

Monday September 24, 2012

Now I know how Tom Brady feels.

I was never a varsity athlete, but the adrenaline rush that Brady and his ilk must feel in the moments before the start of a game is the same rush I felt in the moments leading up to my live television football broadcast debut.

Time Warner Cable Sports had asked me to be the color commentator for their broadcast of the Williams-Colby football game. That jolt you get when the camera comes on at 1 p.m. is the same as a player gets running out of the tunnel or an actor gets when the curtain goes up. There isn't anything like it.

8:30 a.m. -- After the alarm went off, time to pick out the proper TV attire. I hadn't worn a jacket and tie to broadcast a game since, a long time ago. Blue blazer, light checked shirt and blue tie -- check.

11 a.m. -- Arrive at Weston Field, coffee in hand. Time Warner Cable's Greg Bobbitt and the rest of his crew had already been there for two hours. The TWCS crew had done a high school football game Friday night, pulled out of the Albany area around 7 a.m. and were ready to go when I parked.

11:20 a.m. -- Bobbitt hands me a 14-page script. It's a what happens and when does it happen document. If you thought that things announcers say comes off the top of their heads, think again. This script has everything from commercial intros to Twitter and Facebook references, and to the questions play-by-play man Chris Watson will use during a halftime interview with Williams athletic director Lisa Melendy.

Noon -- One hour until the live broadcast begins, and it's time to check in with the coaches. Both Aaron Kelton of Williams and Jonathan Michaeles of Colby do taped interviews for the opening segment. This is something Kelton is a little familiar with, as NESN broadcasts Williams-Amherst. It is, however, the Colby coach's first game. Bet he's more nervous than I am -- and I'm pretty nervous.

12:30 -- Up to the booth to do sound checks and the like. I'm not sure how CBS or Fox does it, but I'll let you in on a little secret -- our pregame talkfest is taped long before kickoff. Since I cover the Ephs and have a good working knowledge of their players, I tell Bobbitt and the guys in the truck which players to key on in the early going.

12:55 -- It's pretty intimidating in the Press Box, with three TV monitors, a camera, lights and a stats guy. The stomach is doing jumping jacks. Can I just sit in my usual seat downstairs?

1:10 -- My day got off to a better start than Colby's. The Mules lose a fumble and two plays later, Williams' Darren Hartwell catches a TD pass. I said in the pregame that he was the main guy for Williams. Of course, that's like saying Brady is a key to the Patriots. But that settled the stomach, and got me into the telecast.

First half -- It is a three-ring circus in my head and the only time I know is the time on the scoreboard clock. Listen to my partner. Listen to the guys in the truck. Watch the replays. Take notes. Check stats. It was a very difficult task. The concentration required is pretty intense. I no longer care who the "worst" analyst might be on TV. It's a really hard job, and they all now have my complete respect.

Second half -- The game turns into a blowout and a lot of my notes come into play. How do you keep a game interesting for the fans watching in Maine? Not easily, that's for sure.

4 p.m. -- The game is over. The postgame interviews are over. The cameras are on their way to the trucks and my day is over. Walking out of Weston Field, my admiration for television broadcast crews has grown exponentially. What has me concerned is that Kelton said he DVR'd the telecast. I'll probably get my grade next week.

To reach Howard Herman:
or (413) 496-6253.
On Twitter @howardherman.


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