Stepping up to the yellow line in front of the open hatch of an airplane – knowing that you’re about to engage in free fall 18,000 feet above the Rocky Mountains – is petrifying. The world looks like you’re staring down at a model railroad set. People are insects scurrying around the world’s most elaborate ant farm, cars are more like Hot Wheels, and buildings look like they belong on a Monopoly board. Standing on that line and looking below, I froze and started rethinking what the hell I was doing. What if my chute doesn’t open? What if it gets windy and we crash land? Then came the push from the man harnessed to my back.
And I was freefalling.
All fear evaporated as the adrenaline and exhilaration took over. The view of the Rockies from above is something that I can’t ever imagine topping. I’m certain that if I live to be 99 I will still remember the exact moment in crystal clear detail. And it never would have happened if I had done what every instinct in my body told me to do and backed away from that yellow line.
When it comes to sportscasting careers, or any career for that matter, it’s easy to get comfortable and it can be really hard to leave that comfort zone. Maybe you don’t want to take a risk because you have a job with great security. Maybe you avoid moving for an opportunity because you’re afraid your house won’t sell. Maybe the idea of being away from home, family, and friends makes you squirm inside. It’s easy to stay put and never know what you could have accomplished because you were afraid that your metaphorical parachute wouldn’t open. But the truth is there is no great reward without risk.
At the same time, when you skydive, you don’t just open the door and jump out. To make the risk of jumping out of an airplane worth it you have to have a plan. In my case I had an experienced instructor, a main and backup parachute, and a company that specialized in keeping people safe.
In sportscasting we have to make sure that we are learning the craft at a high level. We have to make sure that we are building relationships to put us in the best situation possible. And sometimes you need a support system harnessed to your back that will shove you out when you walk up to the yellow line and want to turn around.
I don’t say this because I want to leave my job. I enjoy covering a wide variety of sports both for my station and as part of freelance opportunities. My fiancé loves her job and we have a certain level of financial security that allows a frugal, but comfortable lifestyle. However, when the time comes, I don’t want to regret not taking chances in life. When I walk up to my yellow line, I want to be ready to jump … and it would sure be nice if my parachute opened.