Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Giving Up the Best Seat in the House

I never went to high school football game in Texas nor a high school basketball game in Indiana.  I did have the pleasure of covering high school sports since 1988 in print for 7 years and on the radio as a play-by-play man for the rest of the ride in the anthracite coal region of Pennsylvania.  There were numerous state and district championships along with many near misses and great individual performances many too numerous to mention. 

Back in 1988 while graduating college, a local newspaper reporter said they needed sports stringers and asked if I would be interested.  I submitted a writing sample and was asked to tag along with a reporter for a few assignments until I was unleashed on our local sporting scene.  As a 22-year-old, it was nice to have people read your "stuff" and give you feed back.  Back in 1988, it seemed everyone read the newspaper.  Once relationships were developed with coaches, it was great to have those inside conversations. 

While covering game one day in 1995 for the newspaper, a broadcaster working for the local radio station asked if I would like to be a halftime guest.  I really can't remember the game, but I became hooked.  I did a few more guest spots and more as color analyst.  Eventually, I had my own full slate of games.  The first few years were spent broadcasting Mount Carmel Area who lead the state in all-time football wins.  The last decade or so was spent under the teepee at Shamokin Area and Southern Columbia. In 26 years, I missed to games.  One for a health emergency in 2001 and one for a work emergency in 1995.

So why would I walk away?

The first thing that comes to mind is my broadcasting personality.  I would describe myself as "anal OCD." Everything had time and place in the schedule.  This is not only about the time I am on the air, but all the little things that go into it.  There is roster and statistic prep, coaches interviews, calls to game sights, equipment checks and the list sometimes can be endless to make the two hours run so smooth.  There is no way to be perfect, but you strive for excellence. 

Recently, I read local hall of fame broadcaster Jim Doyle's book Best Seat in the House. In the book, Doyle list his top 10 commandments to be a broadcaster. Doyle's number one commandment was

I followed that for every broadcast as most people can attest.  Although Doyle on had it as number 6, I would rank
Bingo!  There it was in black and white!

I don't know how many, if any, tapes of my broadcasts exist.  I am sure the enthusiasm at the end of 2014 did not match the work I did two decades earlier.  Although I chose to broadcast two more seasons when my son was on the field taking notes from Bob Griese being a color analyst on his son's games while a quarterback for Michigan.  With my older son entering his junior season and a younger son entering 8th grade, I decided to focus on them.  The love and attraction I had for the media was gone.  Twenty years early, I couldn't wait for Friday night.  Toward the end, I couldn't wait for week 10. 

It was time to be honest with myself.  It was time to think about not only my kids, but the other players and their fans listening at home.  I knew it was time to walk away for now.  Maybe go to bleacher for a bit.  You can never say never in life.  Maybe I will return, maybe last season's Montoursville's semifinal victory over Southern was my last game on the air.  We don't know what life presents us, but I was glad to have the opportunity I did for a quarter century. 

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