Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Sports Can Be Challenging

I have the honor and the privilege of getting to be the stadium announcer for my sons’ high school lacrosse teams. It’s a lot of fun, and I get the best seat in the house up in the press box, but it also comes with some challenges.

The first challenge comes from my wife, who has never been a stadium announcer and therefore doesn’t believe that I need to be at the field an hour before the first game starts. I think her objection is that I should still be working and making money, but I think we can all agree, that’s not as fun as being at the field.

Pronunciations are one of my biggest challenges, which makes sense based on our last name. I don’t come across too many atrocities like “Schmatjen” on other teams, but every squad has its tough names, and if that kid scores a goal or does something cool, I want Pronav Fananaziria or Stephan Koch to hear their name pronounced correctly.

(That’s one of the things I’m doing an hour before the game starts, and it is a tad dismaying how many coaches don’t know how to pronounce their own players’ last names. If you coach, please be better than that!)

Another challenge arises with the music. I get to be in charge of what music gets played, which is like a dream come true, because I think I was really supposed to be a radio DJ, but accidentally ended up in engineering somehow. Issues arise in two main areas with the music.

First, I have to deal with some of the players who try to have an opinion about the music. I tell them two things: A) Your music is about 95% terrible, and B) the music I play is for the people in the stands who are paying for all of this. You just concentrate on not sucking out there on the field, OK?

The second issue I have with the music is finding songs that aren’t about sex, drugs, and/or have more than one cuss word that I can bleep out with my cool music software. Now don’t get me wrong, I like a lot of the songs I’d never play at a lacrosse game, but I am of the opinion that if an adult is playing music at a school event, that music should be clean. It is surprising and worrisome, when we travel to other schools, how many adults don’t subscribe to that same opinion.

Multi-tasking is one of my biggest challenges, because I am in charge of the scoreboard, the game clock, the music, and announcing who did what. That can present problems, because I am a man and therefore my brain is only capable of doing one thing at a time.

I have found that coaches and refs have a low tolerance for the game clock not starting and stopping correctly on each and every whistle. They also frown upon Taylor Swift continuing to sing “Shake it Off” after the game has restarted, which is a no-no.

I’ve also found parents tend to have an almost zero tolerance level of their son’s goal not being recorded on the big scoreboard within milliseconds after it has occurred.

Speaking of parents in the stands – they account for my biggest challenge of all. Specifically, the problem involving me not being able to move the press box. It’s a three-room building, bolted down to the top of the stadium. I can’t make it budge.

In lacrosse, we all sit on the same side of the field, in what is known as the “home side” by all the adorable football parents who can’t fathom having to ever be near a parent from the opposing team. The idea, which is a smart one, is to keep the players on the opposite side of the field from their parents. That way, the players will get directions from their coaches who understand the game, instead of from their parents, who do not.

Roughly 85% of youth lacrosse parents don’t agree with the coaches’ decisions or the refs’ calls, but to be fair, those parents don’t understand the rules of lacrosse. That’s because it’s a fast and confusing sport. One would hope that they would recognize their lack of understanding and either learn more or be quiet, but that doesn’t seem to happen very often.

Now, if you are in the stands and an obnoxious parent happens to sit down next to you, you are able to move away from them. I don’t have that option up in the box. And, to my great dismay, directly under my open press box window seems to be the preferred spot for obnoxious parents. I don’t know why. I’m just lucky, I guess.

I hear all the usual things you’re expect, like aggressively disagreeing with blatantly correct penalty calls, and instructions to players that make no sense in any sport, let alone lacrosse. But last night, I heard something new.

We had our first game of the section championship rounds last night, and two parents from the opposing team were sitting in the coveted obnoxious zone under my window. Our lacrosse games are twelve-minute quarters, and I’m not lying when I tell you that the mom never once stopped yelling something toward the field for the full forty-eight minutes of regulation, not even counting time outs. She got full credit for stamina.

She hit all the usual highlights, but at one point in the second quarter she brought the awesome. Apparently fresh out of non-helpful technical directions or call disagreements, she briefly switched to nutrition and sports med.

From the top of the stands, in the middle of the action, seventy-five yards away from the players’ sideline on the other side of the field, she busted out, “Hydrate! You guys need to hydrate! Come on! Drink some water!”

I’m not making that up.

Some nights are more entertaining than others.

See you soon,



Copyright © 2024 Marc Schmatjen


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