If you go to a nationally televised college football game this year, you will most likely see a very well-dressed person running around the perimeter of the field. Sometimes they will be located behind team benches, trying to listen in to what the coaches are saying to their players. They will also have a microphone in hand and they are the sideline reporters.
Over the last decade, television networks have put a huge amount of resources into creating a better experience for fans watching games at home. The mixture of better production along with flat-screen TVs has made many forget about even hassling with going to the actual game.
Erin Andrews, the newest member to join FOX Sports this summer after leaving ESPN, has been a longtime face and voice on sidelines across college athletic events. She feels this type of reporting and role can improve the viewing pleasure for the fan, as she said in this interview with Matt that can be heard in the link above.
“Sideline reporters do enhance the game because if they’re just repeating what they read in the newspaper during the week than that’s not enhancing the game, what they do and what they should do is be the eyes and the ears that the gentlemen in the booth can’t be,” she said.
A main staple viewers end up getting are interviews, which they conduct usually at halftime and right after the game. This kind of a conversation usually elicits a certain cliche or one-word answer. Another basic function would be injury report updates, which can be useful at times especially if a key starter is hurt.
The element of sideline reporting though has seemed to take on a slightly negative connotation. It probably doesn’t help that one of the most famous sideline reports was from Suzy Kolber, who was being hit on by a drunken Joe Namath during an NFL game. Often, sideline reporters have been criticized for being just a pretty face that lacks knowledge and is on the telecast to just fill the slow moments.
But Andrews feels that her role is at times more vital behind the scenes, ”A lot of times the work I would do, would be to tell the producer and the director, ‘This is happening, get a camera over here.’ It wouldn’t even be things I would report on, just let the truck know that this is happening. I think that is when a sideline reporter is very important and when their job is needed the most.”
Sideline reporters do invest hours of prep for each game, even though we may only hear a few 20-second blurbs from time to time. But, from interviewing coaches and players, to researching stories and the history of each team, to looking for human interest angles to possibly cover, it can be a ton of work. As long as the reports coming from the sideline add information and insight into the broadcast, they certainly do have a place and necessity in the broadcast. And, as a bonus in which Namath did remind us all, they can be cute to look at as well.
Arizona native Matt Minkus is the host of the 110 Sports Podcast, a show that pays homage to one of the most repeated cliches in sports: “Giving 110 percent.” Excerpts of new shows will be available at www.lindyssports.com every Wednesday.