One of the parts of my job that I have the most fun with is doing the public address for most of our home athletics events. While I have been the sports information director at Pacific University since 1999, I have been doing P.A. for home volleyball and basketball games since 1994. Since becoming SID in 1999, I have also picked up announcing duties for soccer, wrestling, track and field, swimming, baseball, softball and women's lacrosse.
When I am pulling double duty as SID and PA announcer, it can sometimes be a delicate balance. If there is an issue with the table, do I keep doing PA and let my students work it out, or do I go help resolve the situation? If I am short on student workers, what do I let go of first or can I handle two or three jobs at once? I know that in the world of the small college sports information directors, this is hardly unusual.
What follows is an article that I was asked to write for the newsletter of the National Association of Sports Public Address Announcers (NASPAA), an organization devoted to developing training and professionalism for sports PA announcers nationwide. This appeared in the December 2010 issue.
It is 15 minutes before the start of another Pacific University volleyball match, but this time I am in a bit of a panic.
Earlier in the day, I realized that one of my main statisticians had a class conflict and would not be able to work that night. Then, 30 minutes before the match, our scheduled libero tracker calls in sick.
As Pacific sports information director and event manager, this means that I have to pick up another duty for the evening along with my usual public address duties. On this night, I moved the microphone and announced as I tracked substitutions and the libero’s movement. In both the eyes of the fans and the officials, I was able to do it seamlessly.
For many of us in sports information at the small college level, wearing multiple hats is all part of the job. While I prefer to focus solely on the PA and let my student workers handle the rest, there are times that I have to do multiple jobs just to keep the game moving. In my 12 years at Pacific, I have juggled public address with volleyball scoring and libero tracking, basketball scoring, baseball/softball scoring, run scoreboard and even spotting and inputting for our official stats.
In some cases, multitasking is just part of the job. It is easy enough to score a baseball or softball game and do the PA simultaneously, but doing it during a volleyball or basketball game can be a challenge that requires a lot of focus. I know some colleagues who do this on a regular basis and do it flawlessly. My hats are off to them.
If you are faced with a situation where you have to pick up a second duty in addition to public address duties, it helps to keep things in perspective and understand where your priorities have to be. Consider these tips if you find yourself in such a situation…
KNOW YOUR LIMITS: Take into consideration the task you are being asked to add and decide if you enough hands or enough concentration to take it on. If the answer is no, do not be shy to tell the event manager “no” or to make the manager choose between the additional task and the PA.
MAKE THE OFFICIALS AWARE: When I take on an additional duty, I always make sure the officials are aware of the situation. This will but some understanding from the officials, as they want the game to follow smooth as much as you do.
KNOW YOUR PRIORITIES: This may not be a welcome thought for the PA professionals reading this publication, but there are times when another essential game duty is more important than the public address. If you have to score a game or assist with stats while doing PA, the book or the computer has to come first. The PA announcement must become secondary.
The same is true for any additional duty key to the flow of the game. Even when I have a full crew, I sometimes have to step in and troubleshoot for my stat crew or remedy another problem. I may miss an announcement or two, but that will save me much more time after the game if I wait until later to fix it.
It is possible to pull double duty as a public address professional, but it requires more concentration that you might think. Take the time to consider if you are up to the task, and know when it’s too much. And know that those who do aren’t any less the public address professional. They are just doing what they can to get the job done.