Technology was created to make our lives simpler, however by trying to create something so simple we are starting to create more work and more demand on ourselves with little, none or even a negative return on the time/monetary investment. It’s great to have a method to keep all of the information you need at
Technology was created to make our lives simpler, however by trying to create something so simple we are starting to create more work and more demand on ourselves with little, none or even a negative return on the time/monetary investment.
It’s great to have a method to keep all of the information you need at your fingertips. “Why don’t you just put it on the computer” is what a lot of people have said to me and I still use a paper script when I run shows. Computer with the right software will be great at keeping you organized. When writing scripts for three teams, there is a lot of organization that goes into each, that you have to always be organized. But at what point does technology become too much? For me, when it drags things down.
We use programs like SportsSounds Pro, Click Effects and Sound Director to play music. Why? Because it’s easy to find the song, click it, and play it. These three programs make our lives easier. However, there are a growing number of announcers and DJs who are using DJ-only software even with the huge limitations associated. Game software is excellent because it puts everything at your fingertips and in the world of sports you need quick access. I can find the right song in three seconds or less and play it, but it takes a lot of pre-prep time to find the song, identify the possible situations, buy the song, load it into the computer and edit to the necessary cue points. Now, it’s easier to load it to the necessary cue points with software like Virtual DJ or Serato, however finding the music isn’t always as quick in those programs because they’re meant more for playback, mixing, scratching, etc.
I’ve DJed pretty much anyway you can imagine and there are positives and negatives to everything. Sometimes the positives don’t always outweigh the negatives and that’s what we need to examine before we dive into a massive project.
Announcers and DJ have been talking about a lot of other programs and apps, but have many limitations.
iPad apps tend to allow you about as much music as you’d need for one game and that’s it. That’s great for the mom or dad that has to play music for a game or two each weekend, but at some point it gets repetitive and no matter the level, it’s important to avoid repetition. Keep it fresh, you need both storage space and real estate on your device to do this.
Using multiple playback devices. Oh wow, I remember the dad who had two iPods, an iPad, and his phone (a Droid) so we could play music for his son’s baseball game. The iPad had the walk-up music, the iPods had music for situations, and the Droid was for between inning music. He bought the iPad and iPods specifically to play the music that he already owned because he couldn’t get SSP to work on his Macbook. He spent, at the time, well over $1,000 on three additional devices, when he could have gotten a cheap laptop to load SSP for $750 total. There are other situations in which a DJ is using a DJ rig and another playback computer to play in-game music. I have three that work for me that do this, however the sound computer handles the in-game music, while their rigs handle the pregame, halftime, and timeouts mixing that we want from the DJ to provide the atmosphere. Better organization goes a long way, you can ask two of those DJs what it’s like to have to play in-game music off their rigs. They’d rather have the computer handy to simplify things.
Make sure that what you’re using can’t easily be condensed. A DJ showed up to play music for a high school hockey game in Virginia and set-up everything in the corner of the rink behind the glass. The players couldn’t hear the music, and his announcing was awful. It did nothing to add to the game because he brought so much stuff and did little research to understand how it all worked. He also brought lights which were a distraction during the game. His cue points were off, music was non situational, and again poor placement and knowledge led to a missed opportunity. He still contacts me to this day to tell me how he made $300 DJing that one game while I’ve made thousands because of his performance.
Keep it simple.
Excel is the best program I have found to write scripts for several reasons. It’s free, it allows you to back-time by setting up simple formulas (yes, you can add and subtract time in Excel), you can move elements around with ease, and you can create additional sheets off a main sheet which will make things a lot simpler. There is a little bit of a learning curve however in adjusting formulas, copying/pasting when you add or delete rows, selecting all the tabs you want to add/delete too, and you don’t get the benefit of a red line to tell you when you made a mistake spelling. However, when writing multiple scripts, I can easily take one, copy all the tabs and they’re all set for the next game after I paste them at the same time. No having change the formulas on each page, unlike in Google Sheets which added at least an hour to my workload for every script.
You can set macros to perform some tasks and I’ve experimented with them to some degree, but haven’t integrated just yet. One of the added features is you can find something you wrote on a previous script and copy over ALL of the elements you need. BAM, one nice neat copy and paste which is a huge time saver after the first game.
There are programs out there that will help you with scripts, one of which is very popular among professional and collegiate programs. TSE GameTime Pro. Great idea on the outside, because you can write a script and via the internet, people can view it, comment on it, make corrections, etc. Excel can do that too through Outlook. However, TSE has an output that allows for a P. A. announcer’s view which is nice, but not fully functional.
Here are the minuses:
- It’s hard to make corrections on the fly. You have to find the announcement without a search function, click edit, make the edits, then click save. You also have to wait for it to save as you cannot go to other announcements if needed.
- The first point is amplified in the pre-game production meeting in which you’re going over everything and need to talk about certain aspects. At some point, you have to print anyway, so why are you spending a ton of money on something that’s already available free to most teams.
- You still need scratch paper.
- If the internet goes out or it loses connection, you better hope you have a backup handy. This happened to me a few times over the course of a hockey season and that’s inexcusable when you are jammed with PAs. Thankfully, another computer had a different view and we were able to get the reads in that we needed to, but it was awkward.
- You still need to click on the next announcement, having a key on the keyboard to advance would be great, however when trying to set it, it never worked.
- It also has zero functionality with an iPad which would make things so much easier for announcers on the move. Those alone, far outweigh the positives for the complex and simple shows I do, which is why I stick with Excel.
- One of my pet peeves is that I like to stand when announcing. It’s hard to hold a computer up to eye level so I wind up hunched over.
To me, the minuses in functionality for the announcer are enough to make it such that I don’t want to put an announcer in that position.
If you have a program you use that you think might work, please let us know.
Lately, a lot of people have been inquiring about the VLOOKUP feature in Excel to find a name on a roster quickly. Great idea in theory, however execution doesn’t always help. For over 20 years, I’ve used many different methods of Excel and roster management but it all comes down to this: All information still needs to be entered, and do you want to spend all that time as a P. A. announcer entering all the information. Even season-to-season, players change numbers, rosters change, etc. that you wind up creating a new roster every season anyway.
In-game situations, needing to find information quickly, it really is quicker to use a roster. Grab a paper roster ahead of time, read through it. Note the important players, call a few of the players out off of the mic so you get into the frame of mind where they are on the roster. Across all levels, the same players typically do the same thing each game. In your mind, you will always know the lower numbers are at the top, the higher numbers at the bottom. When you see #50, your eyes will automatically jump to the middle of the page to find the player just from muscle memory as your brain does it without you realizing.
There’s a program out there called Speaking of Sports and Mike Andre has done a wonderful job of developing the program to include basic information you need for a variety of sports. Check it out, it’s worth taking a look.
If using a spreadsheet, and keep in mind I absolutely love Excel and the features it has, you have to look down and type, or find the keyboard with your hand to type, enter the number and then look down at the screen which means you could miss something after the fact. A paper roster, you can have in your hand to keep it around eye level. Looking to name the two blockers that opened up the field for your ball carrier and the two players who tackled him? How many VLOOKUPS did you set and is this worth the time and energy to organize, move around the screen, etc. On a piece of paper, I used to write the order things happened with small spacing notes. If it was to the left, it was the team on the left that did it and vice versa. I’d recap the play in my head quickly, and then insert the names out loud.
Many people ask how to announce football without a spotter. This is how. It may look something like this
My shorthand would read, 44 took the hand off from 7. 22 and 99 cleared the way until 64 and 28 took him down. By the time I’ve announced all of this, the line judge is marking the location on the field, so you get, “John Riggins with the handoff from Joe Theismann. Clinton Portis with a primary block to open up space and Warren Sapp with another block to get a few more yards at the end of the carry before Riggins was taken down by Paul Nickelodeon and Darrell Green on the 27 yard line.”
However, if having to type in every player, you’re waiting for it to come up and did you really have 6 spaces for each play, do you have a way to differentiate from one team to another, and is it worth the time it would take to set-up something like this, learn it, or simply print and use a roster.
What if you forget the roster and you only have it on the computer? That’s happened to me before and does slow me down, but set-up your computer such that you can see the entire roster then use bold to highlight the main players.
There are a lot of great programs, and a lot of not-so-great programs. Like anything, find something you’re comfortable with, but also factor in the amount of time you’re going to spend on it and decide if it’s right for you.1 comment