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Commentary: The sidelines are not as easy as they look

I always enjoy reading the thoughts of the other columnists in all sections of the Williamson Herald. I will confess Buddy Carter is my favorite because we share some history, since I once worked for the citizens of Franklin and know just how dead on he is. The man has more chutzpah than a thousand dump trucks could hold. Do they say “chutzpah” in Georgia?
The one that really caught my eye a couple of editions ago was the damning opinion of “cutesy” sideline reporters during bowl season by Dr. Lucas Boyd, a most honorable man. Dr. Boyd was greatly disappointed in the quality of game coverage of some of the 35 mind-numbing, sometimes poorly attended college football games that stretched over nearly three weeks, especially those with sideline reporters and especially those with females he thought were thrust upon the audience only for their ability to be “eye candy” (my words, not his).
In many cases, I don’t necessarily disagree with Dr. Boyd.  It’s a time of year when talent gets stretched so far that first timers and folks who never considered the job get the job. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been stretched enough for my agent to get me a gig for a few years, but I’m still hopeful.
But to paint all sideline reporters, especially females, with a single brush is unkind.  And unless you know what’s going on down there, unnecessary.
First, you’ve got to understand the sidelines can be a tough place to be. The anchor and color folks are usually in a nice comfy booth, three doors from a restroom with production assistants ready to supply comfort and drink with the wave of a hand.  
On the sidelines, however, it is what it is.  If it’s 100 degrees, there is no A/C; if it’s 20 degrees, layer up and hope you look good enough to make the producer happy; if it’s raining, well, you’re on your own. And you try not to drink too much…it’s usually 200 yards or better to a restroom.
Most of the time in the booth, there is a nice scripted open you get to shoot long before the game starts; on the sideline, they just throw it to you and sometimes what comes out is not exactly what you meant.  I still get laughs from my old producer and crew for calling a Lipscomb-Goodpasture game a jihad.  Full moon night.
While you’re trying to think, the crowd is loud, the band is loud, you’re trying to keep your mic away from some of the discussions that, depending on the level you’re covering, can get pretty salty.  At the same time, the voices in your head are screaming.  Directors are calling for camera cuts, producers looking for sponsor content, stats feeding you and the booth and, of course, the actual content, all the while looking for information from severity of an injury to dealing with part-time security details with an Al Haig complex.
And many times the subject of your 45 second interview does not want to do it.  So yeah, you ask stupid questions, you get stupid answers and you move forward.
It’s just not as easy as it looks, but it sure is easy to get criticized for it.  
Kind of like writing a sports column.
Joe Williams is the sports editor for the Williamson Herald. He can be reached at

Posted on: 2/27/2014


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