Sports reporting is my world, but time is my king. And let’s get this completely straight. This isn’t a duopoly where we work hand in happy hand. Oh no. This is a monopoly by the definition, a dictatorship with the almighty clock calling the shots.
Everyone in a job like mine knows that not only are the ticking hands in charge, they rarely are on your side. Either there’s not enough or, in occasional instances, there’s too much. A game is at 6:00 while you’re on TV, or a game goes to overtime before you’re on at 11:00. You can’t win for losing, but you just keep coming back.
What’s important to note is that the power of the seconds flying by extends well beyond work hours in this particular business.
Let me explain.
We start on a Friday night. As the weekend sports anchor at my TV station, I work weekends alone. What does that mean? To me, it’s a challenge to optimize the clock and my resources to cover as much as I can. The goal: to make it look like I’m not the only one working by being in ten places at once.
The Saturday schedule in front of me shows multiple college and high school games ranging from 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM starts. Quickly I realize that the right combination of luck and clock management can get me to five games at five locations, all before the 6:00 news (something I’ve never accomplished). That’s when the counting starts.
First game: 9:00 AM, 30 minutes away.
Time to set the alarm.
A 9:00 start means leaving the TV station at 8:25. A 10 minute commute has me locking my apartment door at 8:10 (with five minutes to get equipment ready). Shower, shave, get dressed: 50 minutes.
Wake up time: 7:20.
Fast forward to the next day, and with a handful of granola bars and water bottles we start the Saturday Sportstravaganza.
Here’s the schedule so you can keep up:
- Game One: 9:00 AM, 30 minutes from TV station
- Game Two: 10:00 AM, 30 minutes from Game One
- Game Three: 1:00 PM, 10 minutes from Game Two
- Game Four: 2:00 PM, 20 minutes from Game Three
- Game Five: 1:00 PM, 20 minutes from Game Four and 5 minutes from TV station
I arrive at Game One at 8:55. Right on time. My next game is at 10, so I have a little more than an hour here before my “must leave” point. The two teams cooperate, and I’m back on the road at 10, pulling up to Game Two at 10:30.
This is where I get some leeway. Game Three isn’t until 1:00 so I can stay the whole game here if need be. That’s lucky because need be. The game ends at Noon, so I head back to the station to start my newscast during the lull. (The station is five minutes from both Games Two and Three)
I put my rundown in the system, write intros for my highlights, and prepare all of the graphics with team names and scores that will appear on screen.
Then, it’s back to the road.
This is where it gets tricky. I have college softball and baseball at 1:00 and high school softball at 2:00. Because the baseball will run longer, my only chance is doing that game last.
I get to the early softball game, and this is my first snag. I can only stay 45 minutes to an hour at very most, but the home team is struggling. I’m on a mission though, so after 55 minutes and blah highlights I have to hit the road.
At 2:20, I roll up to Game Four where the softball gods have dealt me an absolute ace. It’s 0-0 in the 3rd inning, and the favored team has two on, and no one out. They score four times in the frame, and the inning ends with the opposing pitcher getting a strike out (highlights for both teams!). It’s 2:45, and I have no time to waste.
I walk in the college baseball stadium at 3:05, and it’s 2-2 in the 7th. So it’s late, but SOMEONE still has to score. I like my odds…until I don’t. The visitors plate one on a ground out, and I have little else entering the bottom of the 9th.
Then, a miracle ending. The first batter singles and steals 2nd. A run scoring single follows to tie it up. Next, a wild pitch. Finally, the man who helps me conquer the clock. At 3:47, I watch a walk off ground rule double through my camera lens, and the home team wins 4-3.
In slightly less than six hours, I went on a clock silencing spree of five games in five locations consuming seven chocolate chunk granola bars and three bottles of water along the way. I head back to the station, use that two hours to prepare my sports cast, then step in front of the camera for exactly five minutes and fifteen seconds.
This day was a triumph. The clock may rule my every second, but that doesn’t mean I can’t take full advantage of every one as it tick, tick, ticks on by.