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The State of Play-by-Play at Arizona State

At Arizona State’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, I am surrounded by many incredible people, faculty and students.

Between the opportunities students are presented with by ASU’s student radio station, Blaze Radio and the Walter Cronkite Sports Network’s partnership with the Pac-12 Networks, there are an increasing amount of ways to hone play-by-play craft.

As someone who wants to seek a full-time profession in baseball play-by-play, I recognize that each opportunity is important. Any chance to call a game, get experience and improve is one that I try to take full advantage of, regardless of the sport, broadcast partner or location.

I’ve called sports I know nothing about (track and field and basketball, for example), with people who know very little about the sport and in the most inconvenient of locations.

Calling hockey without a view of the scoreboard is far from ideal, especially in the far corner of a rink with limited visibility. Having a partner who doesn’t know baseball makes it tough to engage the listener like you want. But one thing I have learned is that each broadcast shapes you in some way, often for the better.

What makes me most excited going forward in school is that there are many people with a goal similar to mine. Working with and around your competition brings out the best in someone. Knowing there are others that are in the same mindset allows me to strive to be better, to find even more ways to improve and work harder to do so. With my improvements come others wanting to improve and thus an endless cycle of constantly improving play-by-play-broadcasters.

One of the great things about the Cronkite School are the opportunities it creates to study or take a class on most any subject you’re interested in, from writing to photography or videography. However, with the eagerness of students and a fantastic market, the only think that the Cronkite school is missing is a class dedicated to learning, developing and mastering the skill of play-by-play. There are classes for production and general broadcast, but no class to teach students how to tell the story of a game.

Phoenix and the state of Arizona are hotspots for sports, with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Arizona Cardinals, Arizona Coyotes and Phoenix Suns all being housed in the valley. Outside of pro baseball, football, hockey and basketball sports teams, there is Spring Training, the Arizona Fall League and of course, ASU sports teams.

While there are already plenty of places to get play-by-play experience in the valley, with community colleges and high schools needing broadcasters too, I feel a class dedicated to improving play-by-play skills would launch the Cronkite School far above other “j-schools” like Syracuse and Northwestern.

Now I can’t speak for the logistics, but I would imagine such a class could produce the next Bill King or Vin Scully in a heartbeat.

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