Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Now Accepting Network Offers

I was lucky enough to be asked last year to help with the public address announcing at our high school lacrosse games. Son Number Two was a freshman on the team last spring, and since I know virtually nothing about lacrosse, I immediately agreed to help.

This was back when healthy, mask-wearing kids were being quarantined from school and sports for two weeks at a time because someone in their class may or may not have had COVID symptoms. It’s fine. I’m over it, mostly.

One of our good friends on the team was forced to hang out on his couch while perfectly healthy and miss the game.

I was in the booth when I got a text from them at home saying they could hear me. My immediate response was, wow, I must have this microphone turned up waaay too loud, because your house is like three or four miles from here.

No, they told me, not on the P.A. system. They were watching the game on something called the NFHS Network. Come to find out, the National Federation of State High School Associations has a network where member schools can provide a camera feed so that subscribers can watch the games – usually with no sound.

I had the windows open on the front of the stadium press box so that I could see, and the NFHS Network cameras turned out to be mounted right above my head on the front of the building. They apparently had microphones that were picking up my voice, ever so faintly, from inside the booth, when I wasn’t talking on the P.A. system.

Since I am always the consummate professional, I only had a minor heart attack about what I might have unknowingly said. Our friends assured me that I was OK, then informed me that there were two cameras, one for each side of the field, and the scoreboard side camera was not working. So, they were only seeing half the action and didn’t know the score or the time.

They asked me to please speak up about four or five notches and provide a running play-by-play for that side of the field. I was happy to do so, which most certainly annoyed anyone sitting in the bleachers directly below my booth, but I didn’t care because they were mostly the visitors’ fans anyway.

When I got home that night, I looked up the NFHS Network website to see how the whole thing worked, and made a startling discovery. In small print at the bottom of the website it read, “NFHS Network is part of the CBS Digital Network.”

Yes, that’s right. For about seventy-five minutes on a glorious spring evening last year, I was a national sports play-by-play announcer for CBS.

I had no idea.

We are back in business this spring with a full team on the field, and I am announcing a game tonight. But make no mistake, CBS, I will not be providing any free play-by-play to the cameras above my head this time without a substantial contract offer from you.

I’m serious, fellas. No free rides. That offer needs to have at least one or two zeros behind it. Let’s make it happen.

And look, I know you obviously want more of the microphone magic, but I understand how things are going these days, I really do. Not to show my cards too early in the negotiations, but if things are tight over there at the network right now, I would be willing to talk about accepting some sort of snack bar voucher in lieu of a salary.

Seriously, call me.

See you soon,



Copyright © 2022 Marc Schmatjen


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