As a broadcaster who calls a lot of high school athletic events, I have come to rely on the staff and volunteers of the various schools who make my job so much easier. Whether it’s the athletic director, coaches, principals, staff and even students, they almost always go out of their way to make sure I have what I need and disseminate information accurately and fairly.
This season in high school basketball several changes were made in regards to the information that the public address announcer can give to the fans in attendance and, by it’s very nature, the media in attendance as well. The governing body, The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), has issued the following “Announcer Responsibilities”:
May be announced:
Player who scored
Player charged with foul
Player attempting free throw
Team granted a time out
Length of time out: 30 seconds or 60 seconds
Player entering game
Shall not be announced:
Number of points player scored
Number of fouls on player
Number of team fouls
Number of team time outs or number remaining
Time remaining in the quarter/game
Type of foul or violation
Emphatic 2 or 3 point goal
The announcer shall be prohibited from making an announcement while the clock is running and while the clock is stopped and the ball is alive…such as during a free throw, a throw in, etc. Doing so could potentially affect communication of coaches, players or be disconcerting.
The announcer shall be prohibited from interrupting the game through the use of the microphone unless there is an emergency.
Announcements or comments shall be made during those times when there is a stoppage of the clock and the ball is not live, such as time outs, between quarters, pregame, half time and post game.
The announcer is allowed to announce basic information that does not potentially affect the play in general, the players, the coaches, or the officials. The announcer’s information is not official information and could be misinformation shared with all.
Appropriate training of announcers by school personnel and proper pre-game instruction by the Referee are necessary.
The announcer’s role does not include “cheering the home team on” or otherwise inciting the crowd. Doing so is common at other levels of athletic events. But high school athletics is different because sports are educationally based.
In a very real sense, the public address announcer at a high school event is a “Champion of Character”.
He/she can influence the atmosphere of the contest by what is said and how it is said.
The announcer who performs professionally promotes good sportsmanship by what he/she says and how he/she acts upon saying it.
More often than not, when I broadcast a game I am not sitting courtside at the scorer’s table. In fact, I am usually rather far away. Many times, I can not even see the referee’s signals on who the foul was called on or the type of foul. Therefore, I am at times very reliant on the PA announce to provide that information so that I may relay it to my listeners/viewers. I keep stats during the game (not easy, trust me) so that I can provide points/fouls/team fouls/time outs. While many schools have a scoreboard(s) that can provide that information, in my experience they are not always reliable. They are not “official” though more often than not they are correct. However, with all that can be going on, sometimes the scoreboard operator doesn’t see who the foul was called on themselves. So I have always listened to the PA announcer to help me should I not see it for myself.
I have friends who are PA announcers at various high schools. Some are even broadcasters like myself. I did some PA work as well though it was for a central Indiana CBA team and everything the NFHS is trying to avoid, they were actually encouraging. But that was professional basketball.
I understand that the NFHS is trying to take out the “homer” aspect that they evidently believe is prevalent enough to issue these “responsibilities”. But I think they have this dead wrong. The PA announcer is normally the closest person to the people that are keeping the “official” game stats. They are usually in a better position to provide accurate information than the person running the scoreboard. I also don’t see the harm in providing that information as long as it is provided for both teams.
Each school brings a scorebook keeper to provide official stats. They work in unison to insure that there is no inequality in the way the stats are kept and that the game is played with accurate information. (ie…number of personal/team fouls, time outs, technical fouls). The PA announcer often works next to them and is also right there to hear from the referee themselves. I have yet to run across a PA announcer who I know is wrong in the information they announce.
The only point of emphasis I would probably agree with is the number of points scored. I don’t think that should be something announced. It’s also something I don’t ever remember hearing during a game.
But to say that you can’t have an emphatic 2 or 3 point goal is a bit naïve. As I mentioned, I have broadcaster friends that also do PA work. They are much better suited in avoiding the “emphatic” call. But many PA announcers are simply volunteers. Some can avoid it, other’s can’t. They get caught up in the moment just as fans do. It’s going to happen at times. Welcome to home court advantage. However, I would agree that you shouldn’t be hearing it after every basket. I just wouldn’t get all that bent out of shape about it when the home team rallies from being down 18 to take the lead with 5 seconds left in the game and the PA announcer gets excited.
Again, a lot of this I disagree with for purely selfish reasons. As a broadcaster, I have come to rely on these people who I feel go out of their way to do their job professionally and impartially. To have the NFHS decide that they can actually impact the outcome of a game and may possibly do so in an unethical manner that necessitates the need for this new set of “responsibilities” is akin to one bad apple spoiling the whole bunch.