Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Memo to those with Y chromosomes and sports obsessions

First, let me say that out of all the hats I've worn in this business, the most fun I ever had was doing play-by-play. Baseball, football, basketball, it didn't matter. There's a rush that comes with the play-by-play hat that blows everything else away.

That said, I'm talking about the past, when sports was an integral part of a newscast. Still is, in my opinion, but in the grand scheme of things sports has been shoved to the back burner.

Once again, we have consultants to blame for this. Their theory that, "People who love sports are watching ESPN" stuck a dagger into sports departments around the country. (The only time I watch ESPN is when the Mets or Football Giants are playing. And I'm a sports junkie.) Suddenly News Directors were told to cut down on sports coverage or eliminate it completely.

We can argue the concept till doomsday, but it's a reality. There aren't as many sports jobs out there. Plus, it doesn't help if you don't fall into one of these categories:

-Nepotism: Joe Buck? Son of Cardinals play-by-play great Jack Buck. Thom Brennaman? Son of Marty. Jeremy Schapp? Son of Dick Schapp. Marv Albert's relatives? I could go on forever. These guys never paid dues and got the jobs you wanted.

-Ex-jocks: Well, you need guys who have actually played the game for color commentary. Some are very good, and the ex-jock factor gives them an advantage. (With the exception of Tiki Barber.)

-Women: When I broke into the business, you never, ever saw a woman doing sports. Back then you'd say, "fly pattern" and you'd expect a gal to grab a Simplicity catalog. Now it's no big deal and men are comfortable watching a woman who is well versed in sports. Hey, good for them, and it's about time.

So, that thins the opportunities considerably. So what's a guy to do?

Well, consider that in the past few years two of my friends who were major market sports directors switched to news.

Hello, McFly! There's a shortage of men in the newsroom. Guys who do news. Not sports. Not weather. News.

Back when I was in management, I'd guess about 80-90 percent of reporter tapes that came in were from women. It got to the point where you couldn't find young competent male anchors or reporters. And check out any classroom in any broadcasting school. The few guys there want to do weather or sports.

So, if you're a guy, seriously consider a career in the news department. Trust me, male reporters and anchors are in great demand. Is news as much fun? Nope. But you'll have a much easier career path.

TVNEWSGRAPEVINE, copyright 2011 © Randy Tatano


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