Sports broadcasting major offers hands-on experience

With the explosive increase of remote sporting events, a new sports broadcasting major was offered to students for the first time this semester.

In the past, the department of Film, Television and Digital Media has offered programs with a sports emphasis, but with the evolution of remote sports productions, on location produced sporting events outside a typical studio setting, and interest from students, a new degree was approved in spring 2010, sports broadcasting professor Chuck LaMendola said.

There has been a demand for remote sporting events, which has created an increase in regional sports networks, LaMendola said.

“That’s where the explosion has actually come is in live production of sporting events,” LaMendola said. “It hasn’t come in sports journalism, there aren’t that many more opportunities for people to sit behind a desk and report on sports.”

The major is associated with regional sports network The Mtn. through the network’s athletic affiliation with the Mountain West Conference, LaMendola said.

Andy Haskett, a professor in the FTDM department, said The Mtn. is a small network associated with providers such as Direct TV and Comcast. The Mtn. broadcasts only sports and limits itself even further to only cover collegiate teams that are a part of the MWC.

The Mtn. looked for additional games to broadcast on their network and found an opportunity to work closely with the sports broadcasting department. A need for an

increase in game broadcasts combined with the department’s capability to provide them created a seamless match, Haskett said.

“This unique opportunity to partner with (the Mtn.)seemed to produce the perfect storm,” Haskett said.

Students currently majoring in sports broadcasting have the opportunity to use the skills they had obtained in class and apply them to a true remote sports production, Haskett said.

“We have this wonderful opportunity to produce real games on a real network and deliver them to a real audience,” Haskett said.

Students of all classifications are able to be a part of the production crew while they earn credit for their class, LaMendola said. The knowledge that the students gain will directly helped them in the real world.

The program has been designed not only to teach students the production side of a sporting event, but also give them real hands-on experience in a true on-air production, he said.

“You can leave here and work for ESPN doing remote sports tomorrow and not feel out of place,” LaMendola said. “You would know exactly what needs to be done.”

Freshman sports broadcasting major Tyler von Richter has enjoyed his first semester with the program and has already taken part in a unique opportunity, he said. He was asked to be the color commentator alongside LaMendola for the television broadcast of a TCU volleyball game on The Mtn. this past October.

“It’s pretty crazy that I have already had the opportunity to broadcast a volleyball game over live national television,” von Richter said.

Sophomore FTDM and sports broadcasting double major Nathan Navarro said in a program like sports broadcasting, learning from a book would only get a student so far.

“I do appreciate the fact that in the very beginning they (the department) allow you to be hands on,” he said. “What goes on in the classroom, I would say, is like drivers ed­ 8212; you don’t know what you’re doing until you’ve done it.”

However, LaMendola said the amount of time actually required to broadcast a remote sports production can be intensive and is not a typical 9-5 work day because sporting events happen on the weekends, holidays and at night.

“In a lot of ways, this is not a major for the faint hearted,” LaMendola said. “There’s a lot of time spent outside the classroom in practical settings.”