My Career in Sports Journalism

July 1, 2010 at 11:57 am 1 comment

Today’s Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop prompt asks, What would people be surprised to know?TV

I was an announcer in the 1996 Georgia Special Olympics Indoor Winter Games. (Yes, THAT’s where you knew me from…)

How is this possible, you ask? How could someone who:

(a) wasn’t clear, specifically, what the Special Olympics were before 1996;

(b) hadn’t previously heard of my assigned event (floor hockey) and didn’t really understand the rules; and

(c) didn’t particularly enjoy speaking in front of large crowds

end up not only providing play-by-play commentary during the games but also preside over the medal ceremonies afterwards?

Like all great comedy, the origin can be found in one word: Timing.

You may associate Atlanta with the Summer Olympic Games and, perhaps, the unfortunate bombing incident during an evening event at the 1996 Games. (Side note: Although I was living in Atlanta at the time, I managed to miss all the news about the bombing that night and didn’t find out about it until my grandmother in Texas called the next morning, waking me up at 5:30 to see if I was alive.)

But the area also hosts the State Indoor Winter Games, and in 1996, I was working in marketing for a company that sponsored the games. This company was in the commercial real estate business, and if you know anything about the commercial real estate business, you know that it employs a lot of men.

At our firm, the men outnumbered the women by about 3 to 1, and the majority of the women were at least 20 years older than me, viewing the guys as cute but silly boys who were mostly closer in age to their sons. (This was the 1990s – “Cougar” still referred to a large wild cat, not this.)

In many ways, the industry as a whole reminded me of a slightly more grown-up, slightly more sophisticated fraternity network, only the members had a LOT more money than your average college kids.

In other words, for a single girl in her 20s: pure awesomeness.

microphoneWhen we found out the company would be staffing the floor hockey games as part of our sponsorship contribution, I didn’t rush to fill out the sign-up sheet any more than I’ve ever rushed to make it to a meeting on time. It should have occurred to me that the few slots that didn’t require much hands-on activity with the sport itself (Bus Chaperone, Usher, Greeter, etc.) would quickly be taken by the other women in the company.

I had no concerns about what my role would be with the Special Olympics until that sign-up sheet finally got to me, and there were two slots left:

Announcer-Room A

Announcer-Room C

I stared at the sheet in disbelief. I looked around, thinking this is either an elaborate joke or surely there is some other job I can do, one that isn’t listed on the sign-up sheet. I mulled over my options.

On Air

I picked Room C.

Fortunately, when the time came to make my debut, one of the brokers who was a former college hockey player prepped me on the rules and sat with me as I called the game so I could at least do the players some justice. Being there for their big event was a treat for all of us and something special to behold. We wanted to give them the full experience they had worked so hard to reach.

The funny thing was, when word got around that I had “chosen” to be an announcer, my stock with the guys, including the firm’s partners, suddenly rose. I was a girl, but I could clearly hang with the boys. But at the Games, I saw truly courageous people who were going after much bigger dreams.

So when I presided over the medal ceremonies for these proud athletes, I confidently pressed “play” on the boombox, held my microphone to the speaker and broadcast the majestic Olympic theme throughout Room C as they came to the medal stand to accept their awards.

As I announced their names and their families and friends cheered from the stands, I knew that my first and only foray into sports journalism was all worth it in the end.

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Entry filed under: Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop. Tags: .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. amber  |  July 1, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    What a fantastic thing to be able to say you’ve done! And hey, you learned about a new sport in the process!

    Reply

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