Announcing facilities can run the gamut from a microphone behind home plate, to an area courtside, a spot in the pressbox, or wherever you find a place to set-up the sound system. Facilities can have air conditioning, a ceiling, walls and an unobstructed view of the game, or be in the open air, under a tent where all the bugs can get to you and you have something partially blocking your view.
Most announcers of outdoor sports will have a pressbox to announce from, in fact there are a lot of people who will see the lack of a pressbox as an excuse to not have an announcer. This short-sightedness can prevent people from having announcers at their games, though a pop-up tent, portable sound system, a table and electricity are all you really need. There are some sound systems available that are wireless and have a rechargeable battery. If you consider one of these sound systems, please keep in mind how long your events will typically be and if you have the ability to have a back-up source of power should you have a doubleheader to announce. Also keep in mind the recharge time. You want to make sure you can completely recharge the sound system before your next use.
This section on announcing facilities will probably provide you with a lot of useful information that you probably haven’t thought about, but you’ll be glad you’ve had the opportunity to read going into your first game, a new site, or even if you’ve been announcing for years.
Announcing events outside such as football, baseball, softball, soccer, lacrosse, field hockey, and track and field will most likely have a pressbox atop a grandstand or concession stand but will allow you an excellent view of the field from above. In rare cases, the pressbox will be at field level putting you at the same level as the players.
Pressboxes typically have four walls, a roof and windows to allow you to see the field. Luxuries such as air conditioning and lights aren’t always available, but if you’re announcing, you should have electricity.
Lights in the pressbox can be a problem and you’ll notice a lot of announcers have the lights off in their area of the pressbox. The reason for this is because the lights cause reflections in the windows from objects inside the pressbox. If you’re wearing a light-colored shirt or have light-colored walls, you’ll easily see yourself in the windows along with anything else that’s in the pressbox. Turning the lights off gives you better sightlines to the field and better vision to what is going on in the game.
Desk lamps can come in handy if you have trouble seeing in the dark because your pressbox is dark. Remember to try to place the lamp so that it won’t cause a reflection in the window and create a blindspot. Sometimes, the best place to put the lamp is in front of you pointing back, or by bouncing the light off the ceiling so it creates more of a glow than a sharp light.
Windows in the pressbox, while causing a reflection problem, can also make it hard to hear the sound system. If you are an announcer who likes to be able to hear yourself on the sound system, you’ll want to be able to crack a window or two if it’s cold outside. If not, you’ll want to see if it is possible to remove the windows as the reflection issue will be solved as you won’t have anything reflecting the images from inside the pressbox, and you’ll be able to hear the sound system. Some windows will only allow half the window to be removed which means you will still have to contend with about half the reflections. Before removing the windows, make sure there isn’t a threat of precipitation or cold weather won’t bother you while announcing. Keep in mind the atmospheric variables and how long it would take you to replace the window should something happen or arise.
In preparation, you hear about needing pieces of paper, but one of the things that can come in handy is tape. If you’re in a situation where the sun will be coming into the pressbox and making it hard to see, wearing a hat is one choice, but creating a screen by taping paper to the windows will also help. Just because the sun isn’t coming in from straight in front of the pressbox doesn’t mean you won’t have to contend with sun. Look at windows on your left and right to decide if you need to temporarily cover those as well. If you’re going to be working in the pressbox for an extended period of time, it might be a good idea to speak with the facility to see if they’ll allow you to hang curtains or even a retractable screen for use when needed.
For indoor sports like basketball, hockey, wrestling and volleyball, the scorer’s or official’s table is going to be your location to announce. Typically placed on one side at the mid point of the court, rink or mat, the scorer’s table will also be home to the scoreboard operator and official scorer among others. When coming to the scorer’s table, you may not want to be at the actual midway spot for a sport like volleyball, but down one side or the other to give you a better line of sight to the players because the officials may block your view.
When approaching the scorer’s table, take a look around you to see the best way to get in and out of your position, as well as away from the table itself. This will help you exit at the end of the game or if you have the need to use the restroom during the game. It may be better for you to walk in front of the scorer’s table to ask a coach or team representative questions rather than walk the area behind the table if its proximity to the first row of seats is quite tight.
Since most facilities like to keep the floor as clean as possible, avoid walking on the playing surface as much as possible. Most of the time, the shoes you are wearing aren’t the type of foot ware recommended for use on those surfaces.
There are instances, however where the scorer’s table is used but is placed under a tent at midfield. With baseball and softball, it’s possible that you’re under a tent behind home plate or at another location. Just make sure that if you’re announcing outside that your facility will be providing a shaded place to work from, and you have plenty of sunscreen.
If your tent can be moved throughout the event, learn the angle of the sun and set-up accordingly. It’s possible to announce from an area that is not covered directly above you, but you’re using the tent to shade your workspace. It looks strange, but it’s better than getting sunburn while you’re sitting under a tent while someone else is using the shadow created by your covering to keep from getting baked but the sun.
Some tents come with temporary walls to help shade you from the sun, however they’re likely to have been lost, so don’t count on having these walls in place. Make sure you have a hat if you are going to be outside as it will help shade your eyes as necessary.
It’s advisable to bring your own tent so you’re familiar with it. The best tents for announcers and DJs would be a tent with a dark top. Not only does this work for the players who may lose the ball temporarily in your tent covering, but it provides for a darker reflection and easier time reading the computer screens.