At last it was back out into the field Friday night as high school football season began here in Indiana.
I caught a pretty nice assignment, following a top 10 5A team up north to Lafayette. The stadium was the nicest high school stadium I’ve ever been in. I had to take a damn elevator up to the press box! And it was completely enclosed. I don’t normally like that, because you can’t hear the crowd or the whistles of the refs. But since the heat index was up over 90 and the air was thick and nasty, I was willing to sacrifice the sounds of the game for a little air conditioned comfort.
The game itself was a good one to cover. There were plenty of big plays. There was a nice storyline with a sophomore QB making his first varsity start. There was a kid who is getting serious D1 attention who was in the middle of three pretty spectacular plays. And then, unfortunately, there was a serious looking injury late that caused the game to be halted for nearly 20 minutes and then the last 3:35 cancelled because of the injury and score. Which added a degree of difficulty to the night as I had to crank out the story faster than expected after the delay pushed things back.
But the real fun of the night came from sitting next to the host school’s student broadcasting team. Really it’s a damn shame I had to keep stats and pay attention to what was going on down on the field, because I would have preferred to just sit and scribble down all the amusing things these kids said.
It was a sophomore duo and they did not do much preparation for the game, from what I can tell. Their pre-game show consisted of reading through the starters list and commenting on each player.
“He’s a good kid. I’ve known him since fifth grade.”
“He’s a nice kid.”
“He’ll start at left end. I don’t know him, but I heard he’s a good kid.”
“He’s a big, strong kid. I saw his squat over 500 lbs. this summer. And he’s a good kid, too.”
“He’s back for his third year starting. He’s a pretty good kid.”
And on and on. In fact, I heard no phrase more than “He’s a good kid,” all night. Which made me smile and chuckle to myself each time I heard it.
Also, before the game, they decided to find out where the school I was covering is located. So one looked it up on his phone and then shared with the audience exactly how far away it is. Which is fine, although it seems like you would have wanted to do that before you went on air and then seamlessly work it into your commentary.
One of the pair was slightly older than the other, apparently closer to 16 than 15, while the younger kid had just turned 15. I heard the older kid mention the younger’s recent birthday and then make a crack about how, soon, he’d be driving his partner to games. Ahhh, near-16-year-old concerns and humor!
The same kid mentioned to his audience that it was a beautiful early evening as he looked out over the west side of the stadium. Only problem was we were looking east. Not sure if he meant from the west side or just doesn’t know his directions.
Once the game began I tuned out a lot of their play-by-play. I kind of had to do that because there was another radio crew to my left that were older and more professional and also louder. With competing voices coming from both directions, I did my best to ignore them and focus on the field.
Later, though, the student broadcasters brought up a girl from the soccer team and another from the cross country team to discuss their teams’ outlooks for the season. When the soccer player sat down one announcer said, “She number two on the field, but number one in my heart.”
I had to try hard to keep my laughter in after that one.
I only caught bits of the interview, but I think he was doing more flirting and trying to make her laugh than actually discuss soccer. Which I can respect. I would likely have done the same 26 years ago if my high school had a radio station and I had a chance to broadcast our sports events.
The final thing I wrote down was a doozy. My team was the Warriors. In the second half a home runner got stood up by pretty much the whole defensive line. One of the announcers was ready for this. He said, “Ricksy is stood up (pauses, raises voice) BY A TRIBE OF WARRIORS (long pause). I was kind of proud of that one.”
Like the flirting with the soccer player, I could both shake my head and tip my cap to the guy. If I was on the mic back in the fall of 1988, I would have had a sheet of stupid nicknames and catch phrases and “clever” turns of phrase that revolved around last names and team mascots, and not been afraid to use them liberally. I was a 17-year-old dumb ass who thought he was smart and amusing and still thought Chris Berman was funny. Oh, and I was deep into first generation hip hop. If my over-the-top attempts at humor didn’t cause the faculty member advising us to yank me off the air, I’m pretty sure dropping RUN-DMC, LL Cool J, Public Enemy, and Eric B & Rakim references would have done the trick. I doubt Raytown, MO was ready for that.
So a solid week one. Other than the injury, of course. My team won by 29. I got to see some decent football. Watched probably the second most talented kid I’ve had to cover. And got some cheap entertainment in the process.
I’m off this week as we’re out of town for the holiday, but should be back on the road in two weeks.