Cainer’s Corner: What are you going to talk about?

By: Eric Cain / @_Cainer

What a whirlwind it’s been. It’s a phrase you’ve probably heard countless times – we are in ‘unprecedented times’ or ‘uncharted waters.’

I know I’ve used those phrases a lot over the past week.

But think about it – this time last week, the NBA just suspended its season. That followed the Ivy League cancelling its men’s basketball tournament on Tuesday. And if you remember, the sports world was in shock.

Not even 48 hours later, the entire sports landscape was virtually paused with the outliers of NASCAR and the PGA Tour coming around by the weekend. Conference commissioners have since cancelled the rest of spring athletics while conference championships and NCAA spring championships have been canned.

Spring football games are no more, and we have more and more questions than answers when the coronavirus is concerned.

How long will we be without sports? I have no clue – but us in the industry are prepping for the long haul.

With that comes the famous question we’ve all asked, or in my case been asked, many times since the cancellation of sporting events: ‘what are you guys going to even talk about?’

Sports broadcasters are often stereotyped into a category that is demeaning. I’m not out here crying for injustice – it is sports – but it does take a certain skillset.

Don’t believe me? Record yourself talking sports, or anything really, for nine minutes uninterrupted by yourself and listen back to how AWFUL you sound. Then we can have that conversation. (and that’s not to say we weren’t ALL horrible when we started out)

But, with anything, it takes skill to do what we do – and no, I’m not trying to put us up on a pedestal. I can’t nurse you back to health or tell you how much you can save on car insurance. I can’t build a house or sell medical equipment. I can’t teach your kids how to solve polynomials by radicals.

I’ll leave that to the pros.

We who work in sports want and need the games back. Previewing and reviewing the actual contests are a huge part of our content – especially this time of year when the NCAA tournament was supposed to dominate weekends for the next month.

But it’s not everything we can do.

My response to the, ‘what are you guys going to even talk about,’ question is simply this: if we’re struggling to find content to entertain and inform our listeners – we are probably in the wrong business.

We are called personalities for a reason. Yes, we talk sports, and many believe anyone can do it – but you’ve got to be entertaining first before informing anyone. There’s always content to be discussed – especially in a crisis.

Credit: Joe Faraoni – ESPN Images

How do we go about it? Personalities on-air are people just like you – especially in the local markets. We go to the same stores, eat at the same restaurants and live in the same neighborhoods. How we relate to you is first and foremost with any talk radio setting.

Now, keep in mind how much there’s been to discuss the past week.

NFL free agency kicked off and has dominated headlines. Ever heard of Tom Brady? Or, what do you think about the Titans handing Ryan Tannehill $29.5 million a year?

See what I mean?

Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey has made a couple of public statements in the last week to update the masses on the state of athletics. That’s a fluid situation that will change over the next few months with sports returning.

Which sport will return first? How will that affect the domino shuffle?

Oh, and there’s always Tennessee athletics to go over (we are the flagship station and all).

My point is this: if you enjoy sports and are a junkie like me who listen to sports radio from day-to-day, or consumes sports on a regular basis, you’re going to be alright.

I’d be lying if I said the next few months won’t be challenging, because they will be, but it’s a challenge I’m excited for.

As I said earlier – you’ve got to first entertain before you inform. You’ve got to grab their attention before they leave with an impression – good or bad. How can we take what’s going on, or the lack thereof, and relate it to sports? How can we relate pop culture to the sports landscape?

There’s a way to accomplish all without going straight Mount Rushmore of Tennessee quarterbacks. You know what I mean?

It’s a weird world we are living in with national crisis and we all have our individual struggles as well. But one thing is for sure – we are all in this together. And if you’re a part of our radio family, we are still working rigorously to give you the content and information you deserve – just as we always have.

If you’re not a part of our radio family – maybe you’ll tune in over the next few months and find some entertainment.

Sports talk is supposed to be fun and that’s not going to change. I promise you that.

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