The roster is the most important item an announcer needs going into a game. A couple of decades ago, you would have to call other schools or teams and hope to have the roster faxed to you ahead of time or go pick it up. By using the internet, you can get most rosters online or make contact with the opposing team/school to have one e-mailed to you.
In amateur sports, wait until the rosters have been set by the teams/leagues. In high schools, that would normally be about two weeks prior to the start of the season. Begin making contact with the opposition about this time and offer to send your team’s roster back. Having the rosters ahead of time, even if it is just simply number and name, will get you started as you can begin filling out your scorecard, scorebook, or roster program. Prior preparation will allow you to look at the names, but even more important give you a chance to have read the names prior to asking for help on game night.
When you receive your roster, make notes on names you want to verify. Once at the game, you will want to check that all of the players are correct with the number associated with them, plus you will want to make sure that all of the players are on the roster. No matter what level of athletics you are announcing, it is possible that someone was called up from a lower level prior to the game and the roster that you receive hasn’t been updated. Always verify the roster with the coach if you can. Otherwise seek out a team manager, assistant coach, or sports information director.
In some sports, teams don’t always have numbers with their rosters. This can be common among sports or teams that don’t have a complete set of jerseys and wind up wearing different numbers between one set over the other. If you have a large roster without any numbers, seek out a parent or another representative from the opposing team that could help you identify the players during the game. It’s possible that you may even find the other team’s announcer who will most likely be happy to assist, especially if they have been in one of those situations where they had names but no numbers!
Pronunciations Are Important
Don’t you hate it when a telemarketer calls you by the wrong name or someone introduces you by the wrong name? Don’t you be guilty of this! The best way to avoid this is to get the pronunciations ahead of time. Even a name like Smith, a very common name, can be said differently. Check every name, first and last. If you’re not sure, and the person you’re asking isn’t sure, ask the player. You’ll also want to make sure you are calling the player by the name they wish to be called (i. e. Doug instead of Douglas). You’ll be amazed by the number of people who will come up to you and thank you for getting the name right because “so many other announcers get it wrong or don’t even say it”.
When getting the pronunciations, write the names in such a way that you will understand how to announce them. If someone tells you that you’re spelling the name incorrectly, remind them that this is to help you announce the name and will not be written anywhere than for your information. Remember, you’re READING the names off the paper, so you need to be able to READ them correctly to announce them on the sound system.