In the world of sports, there is an obvious hierarchy from the day you start playing until the last time you hit the field, rink or court. You go from the low levels of youth sports and grow along with others. If you’re good enough you to go high school, college and maybe play professionally.
In the world of sports, there is an obvious hierarchy from the day you start playing until the last time you hit the field, rink or court. You go from the low levels of youth sports and grow along with others. If you’re good enough you to go high school, college and maybe play professionally. If you’re not good enough, you play at the higher levels of adult sports.
Announcing, however, doesn’t have the same hierarchy.
It’s more about the networks you put yourself in and how connected they are, than the level of sport you’re announcing. If you announce for a college that has constant turnover and coaches don’t stay more than two or three years, are you on a higher or lower level than a high school with a well-regarded coaching staff and long history of tradition? Same goes for minor professional sports compared to colleges. Would you rather be announcing basketball at Duke, or with the new semi-pro league that just started and plays out of community centers?
Announcers like Alan Roach are hard to come by. Roach, the announcer for the Minnesota Vikings, is also the P. A. announcer for the Colorado Avalanche. Roach’s back-up is the Colorado Rockies P. A. announcer. He also announces special games for the NFL. Mike Clapper lives in Ohio, however is the P. A. announcer for the Washington Mystics and announces select Washington Wizards games. Casey Motter is the voice of the Atlanta Braves, he got his start announcing youth football. They used networks to build their careers and have excelled greatly.
Use the Washington DC area as an example. DeMatha Catholic High School is well known for their basketball and now football teams. Their baseball and ice hockey teams have also produced some high-level athletes. There are many other schools in the area that have all four sports, but don’t hold the pedigree of DeMatha. Would it be better to announce for DeMatha, or another school? Better yet, would you be able to build a better network with DeMatha through its alumni, or with another school where students don’t attend games and alumni never admit they went to school there?
It’s all about the organizations, how well they’re run, and how well they’re respected. To move up in announcing, you need to form a solid network and do as much for the network as possible. When you get called by another school who knows of you, that’s your network at work.
While it can be something for a high school announcer to want to move to college and eventually the pros, or work for a team in Minor League Baseball, it’s also about the situation. You may live in a AAA market, don’t think you have to go work in rookie ball to work your way up. Go talk to the AAA team. Those jobs in pro sports are more about who is available and who is convenient to get there.
Build your networks and use them to help further your career. To do that, you must always do your best and put yourself into situations that you can be of help to your network and extend that to other networks. If you really want announcing work but keep turning people down when they ask you to work because you’re holding out for another job, you likely won’t get that job you really want. But announcing as much as possible, can continually create more opportunities for you even if it is the same two teams you’ve been announcing for. It’s better to announce than to sit at home and wait.
When you’re looking for that next job, identify who you want to work for. To use DC again, you have several Division-I schools closeby. George Mason, George Washington, Georgetown, American, and University of Maryland are the “premier” schools. All have their pros and cons, however Maryland and Georgetown have the best pedigrees. So who do you approach about announcing basketball? GW and GMU have long-time announcers, while American has a newer, but experienced announcer. How do you choose?
Approach all of them. Why? Because there will be conflicts, there will be nights in which several schools are playing at home. The schools do have several who work for more than one to help out with various jobs. They also need help with support such as scoreboard, shot clock, stats, etc. If you can help one, you can help another and grow your network. You can also announce other sports for those schools and provide a great atmosphere for sports that may not necessarily get a great atmosphere. You also never know when one of those schools will host a conference or NCAA tournament game and need help. That allows you to grow your network even more.
While doing all that, don’t discount schools like Mary Washington, Marymount, Catholic, Howard or Gallaudet. They are smaller schools but could also be an opportunity for you. Would you rate one over the other? Not necessarily, they’re all possible networks for you to grow. You also have many community colleges in the area that may need help. You have plenty of opportunities to be a college announcer, but will it help you grow? In some cases yes, in some cases maybe.
Don’t believe there is a hierarchy for being a P. A. announcer that emulates an athletes path. It’s completely different and more about your network. Just by reading this, you’re already interested in building your network and are on the right path!