Friday, October 8, 2010

seven minutes of terror

The big game (Michigan vs. Michigan State) happens tomorrow.  All around me people are voicing their opinion on who will win and why.  I am ambivalent.  My wife is grateful that she is not a sports widow.

Despite my lack of interest in sports, I remain somewhat conversant about sports.  The reason is work.  With the number people talking about sports, I pick up a few thing by osmosis.  Additionally, I used to force myself to know about sports.  It was for my job.

Years ago, I worked at a small adult contemporary radio station in Port Huron.  It was my first job in radio.  It was thrilling.  The first day on the job, my boss showed me the way thing worked.  He was impressed with how I did the math in my head.  The station ID played automatically at the top of the hour and you never want the ID to play during the middle of a song.  Additionally, there was the ABC news feed that happened right after the station ID.  I added up the minutes and seconds in my head and planned the last 20 minutes of the hour.  My boss felt confident in my abilities and decided to leave.  As he was leaving, he mentioned "oh, start gathering stories from the wire for the 6:00pm sports report".  I stammered "Sports report?"  He said "Yeah, we do seven minutes of sports - mostly highlights.  If you want to write it,  go ahead.  Or just grab it off the wire"

I smiled and said not a problem.  Inside I was in a state of panic.  I grabbed a few stories from the wire and scanned stories for unfamiliar (hard to pronounce) names.  I was safe - this time.

On my way home from the station I picked up a copy of Sports Illustrated and filled out the card for a subscription.  I also started devouring the sports section in the two daily papers.  I started listening to sports talk radio.  I wanted to make sure I would not embarrass myself by mispronouncing a name or not understanding how the information was conveyed.  Over the next few weeks, I increased my sports knowledge, but I was still anxious.

During this time, The Red Wings were winning - a lot.  The roster terrified me.  I practiced the names over and over.  I was determined to not be embarrassed.  All my hard work paid off - until the day I opened the mic and announced "Wed Wing Win".  All the hard work done to avoid embarrassment was undone.  The phone lines lit up with amused callers.  The pressure I placed on myself also disappeared that day.  Without the fear of embarrassment and pressure, the amount of fun increased exponentially.

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