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Spotting Board

Preparation is the most crucial element of sports broadcasting. The sports broadcaster must have information at his disposal to draw upon, either by quick reference or through memorization. Thorough preparation involves the development of spotting boards, a visual reference tool which instantly provides key information on vital statistics and information at a glance. As a play-by-play announcer, it is imperative to have the information at your fingertips when you need it. Information from the spotting boards should come from team websites, newspapers, discussions with players and coaches, game notes, stat packs, and media guides.

Preparation for a broadcast involves reading everything available on the teams. It is advisable to research everything, right down to the player's favorite foods. By the time the game starts, the goal is to know everything there is to know. Preparation involves active learning- note taking, reading, and index cards, for which you can include additional material, such as facts, quotes, and miscellaneous statistics not covered by the spotting boards. 
The basic boards are created using white poster boards which are available in the arts section at most office supply stores. They come in packages of three (I buy the largest size, which is 14” x 22”) for about $3.00 a pack. I always use white boards, because it then allows me to create the board in color for easy visual identifications. Every color you see represents a code for each bit of information, which allows for easy visual recognition. I use Sharpie © colored markers in the course of developing my boards.
These large size boards are perfect for hockey and especially football, since the rosters are expanded and there is more information to deal with. I use a smaller board for basketball, since the rosters are much smaller. I typically use a smaller board for baseball as well. A word of caution- when using spotting boards for baseball, always be prepared to update information on a daily basis.
I use a hockey example here, but when you do spotting boards for other sports, obviously there are different stats to track- each sport has different stats. For example, in baseball, one could track home run trends, RBI trends, hitting streaks, strikeout data, and the like. Basketball may involve free throw stats, rebounding and three point stats, turnovers, etc. In football, you can track touchdowns, rushing and receiving data, field goals, first down conversion percentages, and so on. If you would like to see other samples of spotting boards I have used in other sports, please E-mail me at jleahy14@comcast.net .
I create a new board for every broadcast, as this helps me with the retention process. Writing info down is an excellent memory aid! When I do boards for my college hockey coverage at Merrimack, I devote one whole day to each team. I’ll then do a third board covering general information like standings and statistical leaders.


Now let's take a tour of an actual spotting board used in a hockey game between Merrimack and Northeastern on Dec. 2-3, 2005. Click on the appropriate numbered tab for more information about each section of the board.

 

Story Board Front
Story Board Back
 
Team Records Player Identification Anecdotal Information Line Combinations League Rankings Season Team Results Last Seasons Results Summary of Last Game History Between Teams Additional Anhecdotal Informatrion Defense StatisticsDefense StatisticsCoaches Information Lasts Information Situational Statistics Specific Situational Statistics Goaltender Statistics Line Charts and Statistics