Arkansas Adviser Shares Tips for Organizing a Live Event/Sports Broadcasting Class

I always envisioned myself as an ESPN personality. I loved Peter Gammons with his “Diamond Notes” segment during Sportscenter. Not to mention when they started “Baseball Tonight”, I was hooked! Thirty years later, I thought I had my chance when we started a broadcasting program complete with a production trailer. We (I) had made it. Forget the fact that I had no experience in broadcasting…much less with cameras. I had a Sports Management degree, a supportive administration, and an equally excited school board. ESPN better watch out.

The first year was crazy. We had to produce twenty live events regardless of our degree of readiness. The second year I had a class of 2nd year students. Those students doubled up responsibilities for a weekly newscast + producing live events. I felt sorry for them because we couldn’t catch our breath if our life depended on it. We were constantly gunning and half timing both aspects.  I didn’t want to do anything halfway, but our live events showed the strain of being pulled.

My administration has always been supportive. I went to them during year three and asked for a class specifically for students interested in live events.They said yes. Great! ESPN really better watch out!  I wanted us to dive into all aspects of live productions… I just didn’t know how.  I ended up assigning projects to the whole class. That is good for most traditional classes: math, english, history, etc. That didn’t work for us.  For example, for a football broadcast I would assign everyone the job of creating a highlight video from the previous week or graphics for the upcoming game. Inevitably, we would only use one person’s highlight video or graphics. After a few events, the motivation was seeping out and I wasn’t sure how to stop the flow. I tried to salvage and assign different projects, but I didn’t allow adequate time to work. That meant I had to rely on those who were advanced. This cycle went on for most of the year and left me with a hard to manage class. In addition to these challenges, the staffing of the live events was hit or miss. We were missing an element of consistency to our live event productions and I was having to re-train/teach before every game. We would have a new replay operator for every game and so on.

I needed more structure and a better environment to allow my students to grow. I saw a post from Tom White at Rockdale and used his class as a template for what I am using now.  It is not perfect by any means, but it has helped organize and motivate my class tremendously! In fact, I heard a student today talking about how he was excited about the next rotation.

These are the rotations:

  1. Sports Promos – These are weekly individual videos to help promote a sport on social media platforms. These videos are to be 60 seconds or less with royalty free music and graphics advertising the next event.  The purpose of these were for my students to be engaged with cameras in their hands and editing every week for a month. I could not expect my students to be better with cameras if they were not working with them on a more consistent basis. These videos were meant to be short and sweet with a nice shot variety, cool music, no interviews or voiceovers necessary, AND easily could be shared on social media platforms.
  2. Coach’s Show – This is a new wrinkle to our program thanks to an overly ambitious sophomore with a great idea. I couldn’t say no to a motivated student, plus I thought it was a fantastic idea in addition to what we offer. The students in this group are responsible for all aspects from filming, editing, gathering b-roll, and graphics. We film the football coach plus a guest of his choosing every Tuesday morning before school and have the show uploaded and ready to roll on Friday mornings.
  3. Graphics – Students are challenged to create graphics for any upcoming live event. The students started out using Photoshop.  We brainstorm any graphic ideas including promotional pieces for the upcoming games. Then the students sign up for what they will be responsible for creating.  The most recent rotation has begun taking the Photoshop graphics and putting them in After Effects to add some motion to the otherwise flat graphics.
  4. Sports News – Students are to create a standalone news package based on a sport of their choosing.  They would create two in a monthly rotation. The finished product should be more in line with a standard news package with a different perspective on a student or player.

To solve our revolving door situation with the staffing of games, I instituted that every student must sign up for a sport and position and be there at every event.  In the fall they had to choose between working six volleyball games or five football games.  The next option upcoming is for them to work eight basketball games or six soccer matches.  This helps to provide consistency and stability for productions and allows for the students to be more confident in their abilities as well as take ownership in the productions.  Any spot left open is staffed by the first year students on a volunteer basis.

Here are some of the tools I use to help keep things organized:

You can see some examples of the work the students have created here:

This is my first year to attempt the rotation system but so far it appears to be working to help motivate and raise the bar on our produced content for the live events.  We are still taking aim for ESPN. If you have any questions, let me know. I know how helpful it is to be able to bounce ideas off of other teachers in your field!

Chris Slaton

Chris is in his 5th year overseeing the Lakeside TV program at Lakeside High School in Hot Springs, AR. They produce a weekly news program, a monthly district program, various live stream sporting events and a wide variety of documentaries. Chris is a proud husband and father to 3. Arkansas Razorback fan. Lifelong learner.

Chris Slaton has 1 posts and counting. See all posts by Chris Slaton

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