After covering nine hours of gymnastics last week, I was completely exhausted. I had a splitting headache, and my voice was barely audible the next day. On Tuesday I was scheduled to call a basketball game and still wasn’t recovered, but I was able to put mind over matter to get through it. On Wednesday my voice completely broke down, but that didn’t remove the basketball game from my schedule that evening. Me and my ‘war chest’ of pharmaceuticals made it to Rochester to cough and sniffle my way through a difficult broadcast.
It’s not the first time I’ve had to struggle through a game without a voice, and I’m certain it won’t be the last. However, as someone who takes pride in putting my very best effort into a broadcast every time I go on air, it’s important to learn a few tricks of the trade to sound as normal as possible when feeling under the weather.
Pharmacy Chest: The first step I always take is to go to the local pharmacy and load up on over the counter medication. I always pick up DayQuil to keep a clear head and suppress any coughing, cough drops to suck on during commercial breaks, generic Claritin to hopefully clear my sinuses, and ibuprofen to act as an anti-inflammatory and dull any pain.
Throat Coat Tea: I saw someone post that throat coat tea is like a P.E.D. for sportscasters. I’m not sure who to credit, but it’s a perfect description. It numbs the back of your throat without affecting your voice. Simply bring an insulated thermos bottle to the game, ask the concession stand to fill it up with hot water, and sip on this non-traditional remedy to help yourself get through the broadcast.
Water: When you have a sore throat, staying well hydrated is key. Drinking water helps keep your voice as loose and stable as possible. Also, drinking soda or other carbonated drinks can make things worse. Drink water, lots of it! Just make sure to go to the bathroom before your broadcast!
Sugar Rush: When I’m personally fighting sickness, one of the most difficult things isn’t overcoming the pain, it’s maintaining high energy. Caffeine dehydrates and can make matters worse. That’s why when I’m feeling sick but still need to nail a broadcast, I eat something sugary about 10 minutes before I go on the air. My sugar bomb of choice is a bag of Skittles, and I eat half a bag before the game and half a bag during halftime. It gives a short-term energy boost that allows me to stay properly excited despite feeling lethargic.
Mental Toughness: Sometimes you just have to fight through tough conditions regardless of circumstances. When these moments occur, just dig deep and do the best you can. Control your voice to be a little more monotone than normal and keep your volume low. It may be helpful to lay out more and let the crowd or analyst carry the broadcast in these situations. Your call may not be something to put on your demo reel, but with the right mind over matter approach, you can get through just about anything.
How do you get through calling games when you’re under the weather? Share your stories in the comment section below.