Sportscaster Bob Costas
One secret to success: Think like a kid!
- Grades: 3–5, 6–8
What's a typical day in the life of sports broadcaster Bob Costas? There isn't one, he told the Scholastic Kids Press Corps in a recent interview.
Costas is one of sports' most successful broadcasters. He has won 19 Emmy Awards and is the host of NBC's Football Night in America. He has covered the Olympic games, the U.S. Open, Kentucky Derby, the NBA finals, the World Series, and everything in between. He is also the author of the book Fair Ball: A Fan's Case for Baseball.
What makes him one of the best is hard work, research, and an eye for what's interesting to the fans.
"When I do a baseball game, in the days leading up to it, I follow the two teams involved closely," he said. "I'm going over research materials, searching my head for anecdotes or points of view that might be of interest to the viewers."
The secret is to always be prepared for the game, but also be prepared to "throw everything out the window!" he said.
"You can't just broadcast the game that you brought in your briefcase," Costas stressed. "You have to broadcast the game that unfolds in front of you, and you have to be nimble enough to respond to it."
The best way to prepare for a career as a sports broadcaster, Costas says, is to follow sports closely, but also get a great education.
"Be a well rounded person," he said. "Be well read—know something about the world beyond sports that'll serve you well throughout your life. And if you reach your dream of being a sportscaster, you'll be a more interesting sportscaster."
A good voice is also helpful.
"You need a good clear voice that is friendly and engaging, but at the same time has some authority to it, a command of language," he said. "You need a good knowledge of the sport you are covering, not just in the here and now, but know the history of the sport."
The ability to work well with other people is also important, as is "the ability to prioritize information and be able to decide what's important, what's interesting, and how it should be presented," he says.
And think young!
"Retain that little five percent that's like when you were a kid," he said. "Be open to the possibility that something so exciting, so surprising, so delightful will happen that you can capture some of what a kid sitting in the stands would feel if he or she were watching that very same thing. Transmit that to the audience."
That sounds like a tall order, which Costas makes look easy.
"I've been lucky enough to get really good assignments—the Olympics, the World Series, Super Bowl, NBA finals. All of them were milestones," he says.
So what is the ultimate sportcaster's favorite sport to cover? Without hesitation, the answer was baseball—"no contest."
Costas says his job is fun and rewarding.
"The most rewarding thing, apart from doing something you love everyday, is when you encounter people who don't just recognize you, but really appreciate what you do and they express that," he said. "That's really gratifying and it makes you realize how lucky you are."
For more tips from professional journalists, check out the Scholastic Kids Press Corps Tips from the Pros page.
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