Sports Broadcasting/Play-by-Play: Radio, Television and Big-Time College Sport

By Wulfemeyer, K. Tim | Journalism & Mass Communication Educator, Autumn 2003 | Go to article overview

Sports Broadcasting/Play-by-Play: Radio, Television and Big-Time College Sport


Wulfemeyer, K. Tim, Journalism & Mass Communication Educator


* Schultz, Brad (2002). Sports Broadcasting. Boston: Focal Press, pp. 270 pages.

* Smith, Ronald A. (2001). Play-by-Play: Radio, Television and Big-Time College Sport. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, pp. 304.

You probably could get into a long and heated argument, even in a sports bar, over the question of does the world of journalism and mass communication education need another textbook that deals with sports broadcasting. You could get into another good argument over the question of do we need an historical analysis of the relationship between broadcasting and intercollegiate sports.

But after reading Brad Schultz's Sports Broadcasting and Ronald Smith's Play-by-Play and experiencing the media hype associated with living in the host city for Super Bowl XXXVII, I'd have to answer "yes" to both questions. While the two books are completely different in style, purpose, and intended audiences, they both make significant and interesting contributions to the body of knowledge associated with the coverage of sports on radio and television.

Sports Broadcasting is a fairly traditional textbook designed to help prepare students for jobs and careers in sports journalism. Schultz focuses on preparing students to work in small and medium radio-TV markets, because that's where most students will start and many will stay. The seventeen chapters include history, economics, impact, writing, reporting, on-air work, play-by-play, producing, live coverage, ethics, employment opportunities, women and minorities, global concerns, the future, legends, and a summary of a question-and-answer session with the commissioners of professional football, basketball, baseball, and hockey.

Schultz provides a bit of philosophy and theory, but most of the book deals with very practical issues and advice. He includes criticisms of how the craft has been practiced and continues to be practiced. He offers some good insights and connections that should encourage students to think critically about the profession of sports journalism.

The book has a number of charts, tables, and statistics. References are included at the end of each chapter. There are plenty of examples, pictures, and anecdotes. The biggest names in sports and sports journalism, are mentioned.

On the down side, perhaps Schultz tries to do a bit too much in his book. It's almost as if he believes students will have to get all they know about sports broadcasting and sports journalism from reading his book. As a result, he can't really do a great job of covering any one element and settles for providing relatively introductory information in almost all the major areas-writing, reporting, photography, producing, anchoring, and play-by-play.

In addition, the book ends with a bit of a whimper. The last two chapters deal with the "legends" of sports broadcasting (why not group this in the history chapter?) and with a summary of comments made by the commissioners of the major professional team sports during a Museum of Television and Radio satellite seminar in April 2000. …

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