What does a Sports Producer do?
Numerous television (TV) networks are devoted entirely to sports, and much of the programming consists of telecasts of live events. A sports producer is responsible for taking all of the disparate elements of a sports telecast and coordinating them into a coherent whole, all while making sure the broadcast meets the high technological standards of modern broadcasting and entertains the broadest possible audience. Typically, the basic duties of a sports producer include coordinating coverage with the sports director, guiding replays and graphics, and creating story packages that can help round out coverage.
There is little seen during the broadcast of a live sporting event that does not fall either under the direct or indirect supervision of a TV sports producer. A producer works side-by-side with the director as the two most crucial components of the production team. The best way to describe the relationship between the two jobs is that the director is in charge of implementing all of the different components of the broadcast and those components are usually prepared in advance by the producer.
A manifestation of the sports producer's control over a televised sporting event is the way the game is broadcast by the announcers. The producer keeps in constant contact with the announcers via a headset radio, and he or she keeps them abreast of all they need to know during the event to make their call of the action flow as smooth as possible. A producer will let them know when they need to take time out for a commercial break, what graphics or replays may be showing on the screen that need to be described, when it is time to make a promotional announcement, or any other pertinent information to help the broadcast.
The sports producer also comes up with extra content that is used to enhance the live action and create a well-rounded telecast. This extra content often comes in the form of pretaped packages that are pertinent to the event, and the producer usually supervises the interviews and shooting of accompanying video that make up these packages. In addition, the producer may also decide to enhance the telecast with special effects that can range from high-tech graphics to special video technology, or even computer animation. All elements typically need to adhere to a budget that has been determined by the televising network — the sports producer usually makes sure this is the case.
In assembling all of these elements, the sports producer also has to have a feel for how the event is playing out. Deviation from the broadcast plan might sometimes be warranted. In that case, quick thinking and planning can help a sports producer salvage what could otherwise become a lackluster broadcast effort.
If you want to get a better idea of what a sports producer does, you can find actual daily schedules of professional sports producers online. When their daily activities are written down they don't seem so exciting, at least not to me. For what I have learned, a TV sports producer for a local newscast has a relatively mundane job. Of course, that's just my opinion.
The great thing about working in sports is that every day is different. Of course, the terrible aspect of working in sports is that every day is different. It all depends on your perspective.
As a sports producer, you have to embrace the changes and the unexpected moments that accompany each day on the jobs. If you want a predictable routine where you can mindlessly move through one workday after another then this is probably not the profession for you.
Sports producers are some of the most under-appreciated and overlooked people in the broadcast industry. Well, I guess the people who really know the business understand how vital they are to producing a quality baseball cast. However, the average fan watching a ball game on TV has no clue as to what a producer is doing behind the scenes and how what she or she is doing is making the broadcast more interesting.
If you have any desire to be a sports producer then be prepared to deal with the ego of your on-air personalities. I have been told that managing people is one of the biggest challenges a producer has in many cases. Most on-screen people are competing with their coworkers for the best stories and most air time, so the producer sometimes gets caught in the middle of these battles.
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