Monday, December 04, 2006

ON SPORTS BROADCASTING

Well, last week I applied for a sports broadcasting gig in TV. Had to be the first time in ages I applied for such a gig.

It's not in this country, though. In fact, it's not even in North America, but anywhere is better than North America as far as sports broadcasting is concerned right now. It's also not an on-air job, it's a production job. But I don't care, I want back in. I gotta say that I miss sports broadcasting. I keep telling myself it was the right decision to throw in the towel and go a different direction given the problems that the business has encountered in the last few years. It's easy to say it was the right move given the lockout and the layoffs and all that. But my heart says otherwise. I miss it like crazy.

The more I look at it I realize this is still the one and only thing I want to do in broadcasting. Or at the very least, it's close enough to what I would want to do. It isn't field reporting or hard news that I want to do, it's BROADCASTING, and RANTING and RAVING on the air. Doesn't matter if it's sports or not. Entertainment, politics- fine by me.

The guys who are doing what I want to do in broadcasting all went the sports route to get where they wanted to go --- even the sports guys who ended up in news. I hear about guys like Chris Wragge at CBS2 in New York, now doing a lot of anchoring and hosting. That's not too bad, it beats getting shot in Iraq.

Heck, look at Keith Olbermann these days, ranting away over on MSNBC. That's exactly the type of thing I want to do in television- rant on the air every day. In fact he's not the only former sports guy to move into a career ranting on TV about everything. Mark Hebscher is doing the same thing in Hamilton these days on CH--- not a bad move, given that he is on the air while Jim Tatti and Don Martin are getting booted out of jobs right now. I notice Ed Schultz, longtime sports guy in North Dakota, now rants on the radio as a progressive-talk host. Of course you have a ton of ex-sports guys and girls at Entertainment Tonight (yes, Thea Andrews, this means you, too.)

So there's plenty of places for sports guys to go if you want to try something different from sports reporting. I read that the reason Bill Hemmer switched to news was because he could see that sports was going to be a ticket to nowhere. (Daryn Kagan also switched to news-- for all the good that did her, because CNN eventually kicked her out and now she's stuck doing this silly inspirational web site.) Still, it's frustrating nonetheless to see the opportunities dry up in sports broadcasting, especially if this is the one area you have a passion for and were any good at.

I came across the talent showcase at Medialine and it had on there this guy from Houston named Drew Shirley who had been a sportscaster on TV in Austin, Texas. Austin is a pretty good market for sports, as you know; it is the home of the Texas Longhorns of the NCAA. You know, that same team that won the national title last year in football. Anyway, what's interesting is that he has a similar background to mine. In fact, pretty much the same educational credentials, albeit from universities in the 'States. He was an attorney for a few years before he got a foot in the door with a small station in Colorado, and made it to a pretty decent market in Austin.

But he bailed out of sportscasting a year or so ago to go back to being a lawyer. And I imagine he wanted to give law a shot again for the same reason that I have been looking into going back to it: to try and find the right niche in that field and make a go of it.

Anyway, I notice now that he wants to go back to TV. He has his reel back up and all I have to say is give this guy a gig somewhere, his highlights are pretty funny stuff.

I also noticed there was a lawyer-type who became a news anchor in Tyler, Texas, and another who got some job somewhere else. There was this one lawyer who quit to become a news anchor in Texas and Alabama, and then he quit to move to LA to become an actor! That was pretty unusual. Anyway, it's kind of rare for lawyers to go off and do sports broadcasting, but Howard Cosell did it and baseball announcer Mel Allen did it, and announcer Gary Thorne did it. There's been a few.

The thing about sports reporting that is so great is that there's so much craziness in sports. Look at the Dallas Cowboys with Terrell Owens making noise all the time, and look at the BCS and all the controversy surrounding that. People get to rant and rave and have a good time with it. Plus, there's plenty of relevant legal stuff to talk about, too: contract negotiations, franchises moving, players getting charged with murder and going to arbitration. Having a law degree gives you a lot of credibility covering the business side of sports. So I don't blame this lawyer guy in Texas for wanting to quit law again and go back to doing sports.

The main reason I'd go back is because I know I'd do a better job than some of these jokers who are on the air right now. What drives you crazy is to see the sports efforts that are on the air from these imposters on TV. Like these bums over at the NFL Network.

I tune in on Thursdays to those lousy NFL broadcasts that the NFL Network serves up and I'm going mad looking at that amateurish effort. Bryant Gumbel is just bad as a play-by-play announcer, he needs to go back to hosting. No enthusiasm at all. The entire production looks sloppy as heck to me. This is what drives me and everyone else crazy, watching these nets serve up a less than 100% broadcast effort for what ought to be a premiere package of NFL football. But what do you expect from a bunch that routinely airs cheerleader competitions and the like? The NFL Network serves up junk television and junk sports broadcasting, what do you expect from them.

But on the flip side you see the "A" efforts from the likes of Bob Costas and NBC, and from James Brown and everyone else, and you go crazy because you're not doing what they're doing. You look at Tom Arnold and the gang over on the Best Damn Sports Show, Period, and you go nuts looking at them have all fun and games with these athletes and hot-babe models on the air.

I know I know, this is a silly, long winded rant from me. In fact, this has got to be the worst post at THE CAIRNS BLOG ever, the post that never ends. I guess I just wanted to air out all these thoughts and rants about sports broadcasting, especially after the big slaughter at Global TV and all the rest of it. Anyway you can't blame me for thinking I want to go back to sports, even when all the evidence says this is a field for the dogs. I guess I still have the dream inside of me.

I'm going to have to make that long-distance phone call sometime this week--- to see whether these guys will think about taking me on.

1 comment:

Drew said...

Hey John, this is Drew Shirley, the lawyer/sportscaster from Texas you mentioned in a post a couple of years ago.

I'm just now seeing it and I wanted to thank you for the kind words.

I'm still in Austin practicing law, but I am gearing up for an Ali-like return to sports TV. Let me know if you'd like me to keep you posted on the job search.