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10 Reasons Why Being a Sports Producer Isn’t All Fun and Games

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1. They don't just work Sunday afternoon

For an NFL game that starts on a Sunday at 1pm, producers usually arrive before 8:00 that morning. They’re checking cameras, the connection to the studio, the pieces of tape that will be rolled into the game, and those fancy headsets we mentioned. There are even meetings with both teams on Friday and Saturday. And more meetings with the ground crew on Saturday night. Plus, there’s more stuff that has to be done during the rest of the week…

2. Because their weeks are all sports, all the time

On non-game days, producers still spend their time obsessing about their sport. They read newspaper articles from each team’s city for the weekend. They re-watch previous games and take notes, they have tons of meetings and they track players and hunt for interesting stats and stories. The takeaway? You should get a sports producer to help with your fantasy team.

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3. Their “office” isn’t particularly glamorous

During games, producers sit in trucks. On the low end, they’re fairly basic and super cramped. On the high end, they’re still pretty basic, but less cramped. The worst part: the trucks are kept crazy cold so the equipment doesn’t overheat. But at least trucks have walls, so that beats being outside this time of year.

4. The faster the action, the harder the job

Is there enough time to roll two or three replays of an important play before the next one? Which camera should you cut to in the next two seconds? There are tons of decisions that have to be made incredibly fast. A sport like golf or Olympic curling (go Sweden!) has more time (although there are several players going on several holes at once) than, say, a fast-paced football or basketball game, but they’re all still incredibly stressful.

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5. Without instant replay, they’d be screwed

It’s live television and even the best crews make mistakes -- especially considering the average NFL game has more than 100 plays. Luckily, there’s instant replay. So if the producer fails to cut to the right camera and the live action is missed, they can roll back within seconds. Phew!

6. They used to get police escorts to the airport

Back in the day, producers had much better hotel and travel accommodations (with police escorts to the airport!) but now, it can all be a little grim. Especially when so much time is spent on the road. Sometimes, there are free tickets for friends and family here and there, but it’s not like they’re palling around, snapping towels with the players in the locker room. 

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7. They really have to embrace the whole teamwork thing

Between the production and technical crews, there can be at least 30 people who are together non-stop for 17 weeks during a single football season. Add in the people who get hired in each city, and that’s at least 70 people working on a single broadcast. Everyone (from the announcers to the audio mixer) has to hold hands and work together to get the job done -- whether they like it or not.

8. Commercials actually matter to them

Part of the job often entails getting in and out of commercial breaks on time. That means making sure every break happens and that the sales obligations are met during the broadcast. Leaving a commercial or sales element on the table means the network loses money -- which could lead to a big ol’ firing.

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9. They can make good money -- until they don’t

Some positions are union jobs (think: hourly wages, which add up quickly during travel for away games). But these positions can also be freelance gigs, which means the end of the season equals the end of the paychecks. Then, producers can be on their own to find work for the rest of the year.

10. The job kinda takes all the fun out of watching sports

After all that, sports producers can never just watch a game like a regular fan. They’re just too close to it, so they’re always looking to see if there are things that could be done better or something they should steal for next time or if any of the on-air producers have cooler headsets than their already aforementioned pretty cool headsets.