I work on sports telecasts, but not often at major events. Ive never done a Super Bowl or a World Series, for example. And Im actually happier working minor events like a Friday-night high school football game. The pay rate is the same, and theres much less pressure.
So I was surprised to read this column from the Los Angeles Times, in which Mike DiGiovanna lists eight of the Biggest Upsets in Sports History. I was actually on the broadcast crew for 25% of them! Namely, yours truly worked Buster Douglas over Mike Tyson in 1990 and Appalachian State over Michigan in 2007. Thats more than my share.
NOVEMBER 29, 2021 SENSATIONAL HEADLINE
Last Friday, online versions of a story from the Ellwood City Ledger suggested massive election fraud involving thousands of unrecorded ballots:
5,000 under votes discovered
Many Western Pennsylvanians clicked on the story to learn about the dastardly conspiracy. But the headline was misleading perhaps deliberately so, but probably because there was little else to report.
In the race for two seats on Commonwealth Court, citizens were asked to vote for two of four relatively unknown judges. About a tenth of the voters chose only one candidate, or none. That's an under vote and it's okay. But if they voted for three or four, that's an over vote and it's disallowed.
As Nicholas Vercilla wrote about the recount process: All three commissioners, the Lawrence County Voter Services department, and watchers from both county parties reviewed every under and over vote that was detected. County Election Technology Manager Tim Germani said there were over 5,000 under votes. The results of the winners from the county didn't change.
You cant tell the players without a scorecard! The scorecard vendors used to call out that sales pitch to fans entering the stadium. Accordingly, nine days ago I laid out this card for myself, and for the next week I referred to it constantly. It summarizes the key details for the WPIAL high school football championships, four games played the Saturday after Thanksgiving at Pittsburghs Heinz Field and televised by ROOT Sports.
Whos announcing the Single-A game? Whos the Sto-Rox coach? Which team, 3rd-seeded Knoch or 5th-seeded Montour, will be the home team and wear the dark jerseys? They both wear gold helmets; which is the brighter shade of yellow? When does the Double-A game start, and when will it actually air? How shall we abbreviate Aliquippa? Is that team the Indians or the Quips? Which color shall we use to highlight Jeannette graphics, red or blue? Precisely which shade of blue, in RGB values? All the answers collected from various sources are on this chart.
I made additional copies so that the director and the scorebug operator and the video replay team could also keep the teams straight. Then I went to work organizing the lineups and statistics and such into the proper bins as directed by the chart.
It was my fifth time for this extravaganza. I described an earlier experience here.
My busiest season is the third of a year from August through November. For 27 baseball and 10 hockey and two basketball telecasts during that period in 2011, another person coordinated the stats while I simply operated the graphics machine. But I also worked 19 football telecasts by myself. I was the one who had to organize the facts and prepare the computer files beforehand. Usually there were only one or two such events each weekend: an NFL preseason game, four involving small colleges, and ten weekly high school games. The big climax came this Saturday, with four games in one 17½ hour day.
Now its the big letdown. I'll archive the football materials for 2012, and until then I can let someone else worry about the details of the hockey and basketball and baseball teams Ill be televising.
In an old Bible, I found a newspaper clipping that my mother probably put there. Its a poem written by a lady in our hometown, Dorothy P. Albaugh, otherwise known as Mrs. Charles Stickell. She once appeared on a local radio program which I transcribed here. Her poem begins by approximately quoting Hamlet.
NOVEMBER 23, 2021 REMEMBER FREEDOM FRIES?
President George W. Bush wanted to avenge 9/11 by attacking Iraq, a nation that actually had nothing to do with it. But the French foreign minister declared that military intervention would be the worst solution, and France threatened to veto any resolution of support in the U.N. Security Council. No other member did so. Some super-patriotic Americans considered this a betrayal by one of our oldest allies (since 1778).
North Carolina restaurant owner Neal Rowland looked at the French fries he was serving. Since the French are backing down, he said, French fries and French everything needs to be banned. He changed his menus to read Freedom fries instead, echoing the time when folks who called our World War I enemy krauts decided to rename sauerkraut liberty cabbage.
NOVEMBER 20, 2021 FLING ME TO THE SKIES
Crank the rope to pull the longer end of the arm down and the counterweight up, as shown on the right. Now you can load a boulder into the bowl, then use your sword to cut the rope. The counterweight swings the arm back up, flinging the boulder over the enemy's city wall.
Now I read that a company called SpinLaunch has actually developed a rotational catapult as part of a kinetic space launch system. It replaces the first stage of a conventional rocket, which is quite heavy because most of its weight consists of its own fuel.
On October 22nd, 2021, the Suborbital Accelerator came to life. The prototype being tested has a 40-foot tether and can hurl 40 pounds into the sky.
If they're able to build the full-size version depicted below, as tall as the Statue of Liberty, it will have a 100-foot tether to launch 400-pound vehicles.
One thing puzzles me. Where's the second equally-heavy object being flung downward?
As usefulcat tweets, The instant the payload is launched, the launching mechanism will still be rotating at several hundred RPM but will no longer be balanced. I don't see how it wouldn't proceed to immediately and spectacularly tear itself apart. So they must have figured out how to rebalance it almost immediately.
In a reply, dvdkhlng suggests that the launch arm has a second mass inside it that will move (via centrifugal force) away from the center in the same moment the payload is released. And finnh adds, you'd generally want the non-payload rotating bits to vastly outmass the payload, so its release perturbs the whole system to the least amount possible. And then you use regenerative braking to reclaim the energy.
Presumably, SpinLaunch has all this figured out.
When I was in graduate school in 1970, some of my fellow Syracuse students went to the nations capital to protest the Vietnam War and President Nixons incursion into Cambodia.
According to Nixon, having awakened in the middle of the night and listened to Rachmaninoff, on a whim he took his valet Manolo Sanchez to see the Lincoln Memorial. The students were there. He told them he sympathized with their anti-war sentiments. Then he began talking about travel and European architecture. I just wanted to be sure that all of them realize that ending the war, and cleaning up the city streets and the air and the water, was not going to end the spiritual hunger which all of us have which of course is the great mystery of life from the beginning of time. After a lyrically described sunrise, Nixon apparently continued to wander around Washington. At a restaurant he had corned beef hash and poached eggs for the first time in five years. (The previous such breakfast was in 1965? Who remembers these things?)
NOVEMBER 16, 2021 SESQUICENTENNIAL
On this date exactly 150 years ago, a young group of a cappella singers from Tennessee came to Oberlin, Ohio, to proclaim the jubilee before a national convention of influential ministers.
This performance at my future college took place less than nine years after the Emancipation Proclamation, and it was one of the first public performances of the Negro spirituals that African-Americans had sung secretly in fields and behind closed doors.
In a new article, The 1871 Broadcast, I've tried to imagine how the event might have been covered if radio were not 50 years in the future.
As Andrew S. Ward has written, spirituals conveyed multiple meanings. Paradise, Canaan, the Promised Land could stand for heaven, the North, or emancipation. Freedom could mean release from the grief and toil of this life, or it could mean independence, autonomy, and escape from slavery.
Over time, the beautiful voices of the Fisk Jubilee Singers would begin to change attitudes among their predominantly white audiences, and skepticism would be replaced by standing ovations.
NOVEMBER 13, 2021 THAT MURDEROUS SON OF A NUN!
Among the Bible's heroes is the leader who succeeded Moses around 1500 BC and made the walls of Jericho come tumbling down.
But did Joshua really succeed in utterly destroying the Canaanites? A genetic analysis published in 2017 suggests he didn't. An excavation in Sidon yielded the bones of five Bronze-Age Canaanites. Dr. Chris Tyler-Smith's team found a 93% DNA match between those pre-Joshua samples, dated to about 1700 BC, and modern Lebanese people.
When I was a kid, on a typical fall Saturday our family experienced college football twice. Most college games werent televised, so wed listen to Ohio State on the radio, then watch whatever other game happened to be on ABC-TV.
When I was a young man, most college games still werent televised, so our companys weekly Penn State highlights show enjoyed a good viewership on Sunday mornings. Often it was the only way to see the Nittany Lions play.
How things have changed!
For the first time in eight weeks, I wont be working a telecast this Saturday, so I checked my local cable schedule to see when Penn State will kick off tomorrow. It will be their first game without Joe Paterno as a coach since 1949, when I was two years old.
It turns out Penn State will be on TV at noon. So will Ohio State. So will Pitt. So will West Virginia. So will seven other contests. Yes, starting at noon, 11 college football games will be televised simultaneously, live, on 11 different channels! By the end of the day, 27 games will have been made available to my TV set.
I do not intend to sample them all.
On the other hand, no games are being played in the professional National Basketball Association. The argument continues over (among other matters) how much of the leagues revenues should go to the players. Should it be 47%? 52%?
To those of us on the outside, it seems petty for rich folks to refuse to do their jobs over such a trivial matter. Arent they already making millions? Why should they care so much about an extra two or three per cent? But theyre competitive men. They have egos. They subscribe to Jimmy Valvanos motto, Don't give up! Don't ever give up! And so they refuse to make significant concessions, and the standoff continues.
Both sides have expressed regret that canceling NBA games also impacts the income of innocent bystanders non-millionaires such as arena workers, restaurant cooks, and parking-lot attendants.
No one ever mentions the television crews, but without games to televise, were out of work too. The TV technicians in Atlanta are especially hard hit this winter. Not only have NBA games been canceled, but Atlantas NHL team has fled the country to play hockey in Winnipeg instead.
So have I lost work to the NBA lockout? No, theres no NBA team here in Pittsburgh, so I have nothing to lose. My winter schedule remains full of NHL telecasts and college basketball telecasts. I worked my first college hoops of the season this past Monday, with at least 19 more games to follow between now and the end of February. That includes three doubleheaders featuring both the mens and womens teams, which are always plenty of work for one day.
One tune was Hold On, Keep Your Eyes on the Prize, which is the title of a new article on this website. There you'll find the story of the Schomers plus a link to a 1965 recording. Among the 17 songs on this 41-minute album, you'll hear Karine sing, It's two in the morning and I can't go far. When a girl gets the feeling, Lord, what can she do?
Much of the news is that way, too.
We hear that a deadline is approaching for soldiers to get vaccinated; if they refuse to obey their commanding officer's order, will they be fired? Will they be court-martialed or kicked out of the Army? No one knows until it happens.
A new piece of legislation has been introduced? It has to clear a lot of hurdles before it can become law.
A court has rendered a decision? It's going to be appealed to higher state courts and federal courts, and nothing will really be decided until the Supreme Court rules. Even then, workarounds are possible.
I'm gradually learning not to get too excited about such processes until the moment finally arrives when we can learn the results of that trial.
NOVEMBER 3, 2021 FIVE QUESTIONING WORDS
It's an old I Love Lucy clip. Lucy wants Ricky to show her some affection, so she puckers up and closes her eyes. Jack Benny appears behind them. He starts to take advantage of the invitation. She realizes he's not Ricky and screams, What are you doing here?
Sometimes the line is heard more than once in a single episode. Usually it allows the new arrival to explain their presence with exposition that advances the plot. Pay attention; I guarantee you'll hear it.
Personally, my experiences in central Mississippi have been limited to college sports in Hattiesburg. I was happily surprised that during my short visits between 1987 and 2000, no racial tension was apparent.
Matthew finally returned to Kosciusko in 2004, people who
lived down the road came by and visited. One Black woman said
she had been seven years old when we rebuilt the Freedom House, and
she remembered a gun battle that caused her to duck below the
window. I was scared, she said. But
that was a long time ago. Matthew continued, I
asked her father how people got along in the county these days.
Blacks and whites here, he said, gets along now
like bees and honey.