No matter what you think, making a play-by-play for any sport is a tough thing. The big ones make it look easy, but it’s not. Prep work dominates things leading up to the broadcast, getting notes, nuggets, and entertaining treats takes time. Then, once you’re ready, some stages are better than others to stream. Some cabins are easier to work with than others.
Then there is the forgotten element, the weather.
How will you handle inclement weather of all kinds? Heat, rain, snow and oh yeah, the dreaded freezing temperatures. Before we get to the heart of the matter, here are some of the less than ideal conditions that my fellow broadcasters have faced over the years.
THE FOG BOWL
In the 1988 playoffs between the Chicago Bears and Philadelphia Eagles, heavy fog rolled over the field during the game, making it almost impossible to play or see. Many players have complained about not seeing 10 yards in front of them. Both teams were forced to use their running game because receivers couldn’t see long passes. The show was called by Verne Lundquist and Terry Bradshaw on CBS.
“We couldn’t see anything, absolutely nothing,” CBS-TV play-by-play broadcaster Verne Lundquist told The Associated Press. “We had to watch television like everyone else.” Lundquist man of color Terry Bradshaw told viewers the game should have been suspended.
THE FREEZER BOWL
At -9 degrees Fahrenheit, the 1982 AFC Championship game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the San Diego Chargers turned out to be the second coldest game in NFL history. It was so cold that Bengals QB Ken Anderson suffered frostbite in his right ear. The temperature was not only -9 degrees, but the wind chill was measured at -58 degrees, by far the worst in league history.
THE ICE BOWL
The 1967 NFL Championship between the Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys became known as the “Ice Bowl”. It remains the coldest game ever played in the NFL, at -15 degrees with a wind chill of -48 degrees. Lambeau Field’s turf heating system actually malfunctioned before the game, leaving the turf hard as a rock. Officials actually had to resort to calling plays and penalties, because when referee Norm Schachter blew his metal whistle, it actually froze on his lips.
The latter two are examples of something topical since last week’s “Super Wild Card” game at Buffalo was played in extreme temperatures. At kickoff it was 7 degrees Fahrenheit and the wind chill made the temperature feel like minus -5. A far cry from the games above, but come on, it was freezing cold there.
CBS Sports NFL announcers team Ian Eagle and Charles Davis said Saturday’s game between Buffalo and New England was the coldest work environment they’ve seen in their careers in broadcasting.
“We kept the windows closed in the cabin until an hour before kick-off,” Eagle told The Athletic. “When we finally opened them, I had a feeling it would be manageable. I was wrong. CBS rented industrial heaters for the night, but unfortunately they weren’t up to the air. icy Western New York. It really hit me in the third quarter. I started to shiver and even had a few moments where my jaw locked in mid-sentence. was by far the coldest I’ve ever called a game.
Davis recalled two games he called at Lambeau Field that were similar, but not as bad as at Buffalo.
“It helped that the evening was relatively clear and the winds were minimal, but make no mistake, ‘the Almighty Hawk (wind)’ made its presence felt and I continued to lean on a thought – everyone involved was cold, and they were persistent,” Davis told Richard Deitsch.
“Plus, we were watching history be made in front of us by the Bills offense – seven drives, seven touchdowns, something that had never been done in the NFL playoffs. Beyond impressive, and it certainly helped us stay focused. I’m not sure anyone would choose to play a game under these conditions, but there was certainly a sense of pride within our team that we all performed to the best of our abilities on an evening that would put us all to the test. the test.
Davis said there was no way not to think about her discomfort. He paid tribute to the stage crew in the cabin who helped keep him and Ian Eagle warm. There was also a jacket involved, a familiar jacket given to Eagle during the game, leading to a great exchange between him and Davis just before the start of the third quarter.
Charles Davis: Where did you find the jacket?
Ian Eagle: What jacket?
Eagle: Oh that ? Yes, Hall of Famer Kurt Warner, you may have noticed, wore it a few weeks ago and it was all the rage on the internet. Kurt saw that we had this mission. Kurt now runs a “Warner’s Warmers” program, he just sends the jacket to whoever needs it. I feel like, I want Jiffy Pop Popcorn. This stuff is very hot. It’s the same jacket. Kurt sent me this. Let me tell you, not all heroes wear capes, they wear “Silver Bullet Puffers”.
Davis: Let’s talk about the game for a minute. Kurt, a brother would also like a jacket…
I’ve never really experienced calling a game in these extreme weather conditions, especially after all the years of calling baseball games. But being in the Midwest, even the first few days of April and sometimes into May, cold temperatures are a factor.
I think the coldest game I’ve ever called was a game with the Cubs where the starting temperature was around 31 degrees with wind blowing off the lake. We debated whether or not to open the cabin windows. One voted no, one voted yes, so the trade-off was that the window near the game-by-game guy was a bit open. Games just sound different with the windows closed. It’s not as clean. Looks like you’re playing a game in a closet. But sometimes self-preservation comes first. The same goes for extremely hot temperatures.
The elements can play havoc with how you call a game. Your pen isn’t working too well, and how do you score a game without taking off your gloves? Under these conditions, as Eagle said, your mouth is out of sync with your brain and you wonder if the torture will ever end! I know that sounds like overkill, but right now it’s not.
People sitting at home still want you to call the game. They’re looking for the same information you would have given if it was 40 degrees instead of 40 below with the wind chill. It’s a big ask, but the broadcast team needs to find a way to adapt to the conditions and do what they’re here to do. It helps when everyone understands this. That doesn’t mean you can’t talk about how things are going in the cabin or in the field from time to time. But don’t let it dominate the airtime, tempting as it may be to do so.
Think, if you’re cold in the booth, what’s life like as a secondary reporter?