Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Llllladies and Gentlemen

Warning: soccer-related content below.

This past weekend was first half of the PA West Soccer Open Tournament at Edinboro University in Edinboro, PA.  It's a tournament for western Pennsylvania rec soccer teams -- not elite college-prep type teams with professional coaches, but neighborhood youth soccer clubs.  I'm heavily involved with one of those clubs and I was up at the tournament with my son's team.

Each team is expected to provide volunteer time to the tournament. When I approached the tournament director to take care of my team's time, she cocked her head and said "how's your announcer voice?"

She suggested that I could take care of my team's volunteer time by serving as the public address announcer for an under-19 girls game at the stadium* that evening at 8:00.

I was offered a bribe to call a near-miss with "juuuuust a bit outside" but I didn't have the guts.
Consider some of the following observations the next time you're listening to the PA announcer at your local sports event.
  • We ("we" being the guy who ran the scoreboard and I) did hunt down players and fans from both teams, before the game, to make sure we had pronunciations right.  Most of the names were pretty obvious but we had some iffy ones and I'm glad we checked.
  • Even after getting pronunciation down, your PA announcer is probably rooting for certain players NOT to take shots, score goals, or commit fouls.  Katie Sinclair wants to take lots of shots? Great. Magdalena Szymankowski? Please, please stay away from the ball.
  • I paid a lot more attention calling the game than I do just watching it from the stands or on TV.  It's about the same level of attention I put into coaching, although it's a different sort of attention. Away from the mic, there was lots of "who is that with the ball, is that #22 or #32, come on, turn away from me so I can see..."
  • Your PA announcer may catch irregularities that even an opposing coach might miss. It's a lot easier to tell if there are 12 men on the field when you're a hundred feet above the field. It's also a lot more obvious that there's a player wearing a #3 jersey on the field while there's no #3 on your roster.
All told, it was a great experience. Watching a well-played soccer game that I didn't have a personal stake in was really enjoyable. In fact, I have volunteered to do it again next weekend. I have a new respect even for the guys ridiculed at Awful Announcing. The job's a lot harder than it looks.

* Most of the games at the tournament run on ordinary grass fields set up on campus, but one of the available fields is Sox Harrison stadium, where the university's football, soccer, and track and field teams compete during the school year.
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