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Sports Production: More Than Meets The Eye

BY RHETT COBLENTZ | Ball State Sports Link

When I was young, sports were a large part of my life. I played baseball, soccer, football and basketball all at one point or another. Baseball was by far my favorite to play, but football, oh football. Football is my favorite to watch.

From a young age, I latched onto the Indianapolis Colts. It was the logical choice, considering I lived in Indiana and my dad, who is from Ohio, is a Browns fan (that wasn’t gonna happen).

I always loved watching Peyton Manning tear through defenses like they weren’t even there. As I continued to cultivate my love for the Colts, and my other favorite teams as well, I stopped playing other sports and focused on playing baseball.

Around the time baseball became my only sport, I discovered a different aspect of sports I loved more than watching and playing. This realization changed my life.

When my freshman year of high school rolled around, I was fully into sports. I loved watching any kind of sport, regardless of what it was. Soccer, hockey, basketball, it didn’t matter what was on. I would watch it.

As I continued to watch, I learned more and more about the aspects of broadcasting a game. I started to fall in love with many different play-by-play voices — even voices of teams I don’t like — such as Pat Hughes of the Chicago Cubs.

I listened to many different voices on TV and radio alike, and I learned something. I want to be a sports broadcaster someday.

And that’s when it all started to fall into place. My junior year of high school changed my life.

I was given the opportunity to broadcast football and basketball games on my high school’s radio station. I tuned my skills and I also dabbled in some video production during that year as well. The next big step I took was my visit to Ball State University.

I already knew that Ball State was on top of my college list, but when I saw Sports Link, I knew it. I had no doubt in my mind I wanted to be a part of this program.

Now, I am a part of the Ball State Sports Link program. I have only had a small amount of experience over a short period of time, yet I have been able to learn so much, already in this program. There’s more to sports than what the average viewer sees on the surface.

In the first three months at BSU, I have been a part of five ESPN 3 broadcasts. There is a lot more that goes into a broadcast than meets the eye.

The viewer sees only the camera work, the close-ups of the players and the score on that tiny little graphic in the corner of the screen. They hear only the voices of the on-air talent giving them a description of what’s happening on the screen, field or court.

What the viewer doesn’t see is the weeks of tireless preparation by the producers and directors — the production meetings, the pre-game setup and the post-game teardown. What the viewer doesn’t hear, is much more complicated than what they do not see.

They cannot hear the voice of the director in the ears of each camera operator, informing them of what kind of shot they want, or telling every camera which one is currently on air.

There is constant communication going on between the director, the producer, the graphics coordinator and the replay operator in the production truck. All of these things go into a broadcast, and they are what make a broadcast great.

The second thing I’ve learned about sports is there is so much more to an athlete than just their talent or skill. Each athlete is a person, first and foremost, with a unique journey and a unique background unlike anybody else’s.

Humanizing an athlete is the most important aspect of sports, regardless of who they play for or what their statistics look like. In order to humanize an athlete, one must find out about their life. You must learn their story, learn about how they got to the point they’re at and most importantly, what drives them.

Sports, in all reality, is just a game. This may seem a bit odd coming from somebody who is majoring in sports production and wants to make a career out of sports, but the score isn’t what matters.

Nobody remembers whether or not the Colts won their Week 6 game back in 1967, and this is exactly the point. People are more prone to remember the storylines of a game as opposed to the final score, and therein lies the essence of Ball State Sports Link.

Tell the story, portray it like nobody else does and find just a little more information than the next guy. Humanize the athletes and create a connection for the viewer.

I know I’m young. I know I’m just a rookie in Sports Link, but these things are important. I’ve learned a lot in my short time as a Cardinal, but my story continues to grow, and my knowledge does as well.

And in order to become the best, you can never stop learning.

1 Comment on Sports Production: More Than Meets The Eye

  1. Great article!!! Glad you are learning so much at BSU. I have always said I will listen to you broadcasting sports some day!! I will also tell people I knew you when you were young. Enjoy every minute of this journey.

    Like

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