I was a terrible announcer for my son's high school football games and it was still a blast

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I was a terrible announcer for my son's high school football games and it was still a blast

I am the worst announcer for high school football games. Once, I missed calling my own son's fumble recovery. But I still had a blast just being there.

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Bill Goodykoontz, USA TODAY Published 5:14 p.m. ET Jan. 10, 2019 | Updated 7:10 p.m. ET Jan. 10, 2019
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I am the world’s worst announcer for high school football games.

This is not something I say lightly. I am not fishing for, “Oh, you can’t be that bad” assurances. I am horrible.

Twice — in one game — I credited the wrong players with touchdowns. (They were gracious when I apologized after the game.) During the same game I missed announcing a fumble recovery.

BY MY OWN SON.

via GIPHY

There are reasons both technical and otherwise for my ineptitude, which I’ll get to momentarily.

Yet for all that, I loved it. I don’t know if fans can say the same, but I had a blast.

So how did I get to the booth? Circuitously

All of my kids play sports. They have since kindergarten.

I played sports, too. I think they’re important to a child’s development — physically, emotionally, all of the usual ways you hear about (which you hear about because they’re true).

I also think it’s important to learn how to be part of a team. I was a decent athlete and I’ve tried to stay involved in my kids’ sports, mostly through coaching. My feeling was, if I have to take them to practice, I might as well have something to do.

Katie Holmes (mom to daughter Suri): “I’ve never met a 2-year-old who is terrible. I’m so cool with every stage my daughter goes through. I just think she’s amazing. I hope she’s not looking at me thinking, Mom, are the terrible 30s coming on with you?”

My daughters play volleyball and softball. My son plays football for a small Arizona school called Tempe Preparatory Academy , which has a proud football tradition. It's one of those little-engine-that-could type of programs.

Football practice is notoriously brutal. In Arizona, where we live, it’s worse. At the beginning of the season, athletes are running around in full pads in 115-degree heat.

Football at Tempe Prep depends upon the work of volunteers to keep things running smoothly. And this year the team needed a new announcer for home games.

I was speaking with the coach after practice one day and he asked, in an offhand way, if I wanted the job. (Working on the chain crew also seemed to be an option.) I actually used to write about sports, I began, and…

“You’re hired.”

Great, I thought. How hard can it be?

It's harder than you’d think

Or harder than I thought, anyway.

Here is the thing: Whether you are writing about a game or watching a game for fun, you take plays off. You talk to someone sitting beside you or ask a question about the quarterback’s passing percentage or take a bite out of a hot dog or check a text that’s just arrived on your phone. It’s no big deal. If there’s a commotion you look up and catch the end of the play or ask someone what happened if you don’t.

Make warm memories. Your children will probably not remember anything that you say to them, but they will recall the family rituals - like bedtimes and game night - that you do together.

Or you wait for the announcer’s call.

But when you’re actually calling a game, you can’t take any plays off. Ever.

If you do, there’s just silence. Who did what? Who knows?

It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it’s kind of daunting, and more intense than you'd think. You are watching all of the players, all the time, for both teams.

And they sure look small out there.

via GIPHY

Here’s a quibble: Tempe Prep’s home jerseys are dark blue with black numbers. From the press box, where I sat to call games, it’s virtually impossible to distinguish, for instance, 82 from 22. Guess which one ran back a kickoff for a touchdown? I did — and guessed wrong.

Tempe Prep’s last game was against a school with white jerseys. With white numbers that were outlined — lightly — in gold trim. In that case, I made an announcement at the beginning of the game that, due to the unique color scheme of their uniforms, it would be impossible for me to say exactly which player had done what.

And you know what? That was fine.

That’s one of the great things about high school sports. Whatever else they are, above all, they’re just fun. Or they are supposed to be.

Yes, some parents insist on living out their own stunted fantasies by yelling at the coaches or players or baying at the moon or whatever. But the vast majority of people simply want to cheer on their kids and their kids’ teams. And the kids just want to play.

"Recommend virtue to your children; it alone, not money, can make them happy. I speak from experience." - Ludwig van Beethoven

It’s one of those great, ultimately unimportant things that becomes important for a couple of hours. If an announcer botches a call every now and then (and again, in my case), it isn’t the end of the world. It’s the end of a play, and there will be another one coming up in just a few seconds.

All of which is to say, I hope they’ll have me back next season.

Reach Goodykoontz at bill.goodykoontz@arizonarepublic.com. Facebook: facebook.com/GoodyOnFilm. Twitter: @goodyk.

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Limit digital media for your youngest family members. Avoid digital media for toddlers younger than 18 to 24 months other than video chatting. For children 18 to 24 months, watch digital media with them because they learn from watching and talking with you. Limit screen use for preschool children, ages 2 to 5, to just 1 hour a day of high-quality programing. Co-viewing is best when possible and for young children. They learn best when they are re-taught in the real world what they just learned through a screen. So, if Ernie just taught the letter D, you can reiterate this later when you are having dinner or spending time with your child. See Healthy Digital Media Use Habits for Babies, Toddlers & Preschoolers.