We’re not talking about Leonard “Truck” Robinson, or even Darryyl “Truck” Bryant here…. I mean THE Truck, as in what we all see behind the arena on game days for our TV games. Obscure, unknown. Just sitting there minding it’s own business. Few know what really goes on behind the quiet presence of the outside walls of that vehicle. I had no idea.
Maybe it’s just me, but I had never seen the inside of a TV production truck. I’ve done some TV, a studio show “This Week in the NBDL” with Mike Crispino a few years ago, but that was a studio gig. That is NOTHING like THE Truck, LIVE – on site production. In the studio (at least the one I was in) there were a few people, it was quiet. Everything seemed pretty low key, simple.
I was able to get an invite to “observe” an ESPN basketball game from THE Truck. Did not know what to expect, what I was in for. Amazing.
First off, let’s talk about set up… you’ve seen THE Truck, it’s not that large. There are 16+ people inside THE Truck at all times. People are coming in and out of it all the time, through out the entire production.
I arrived at 5:20 pm for a 7:30 pm game. The action was already well into the flow. The anonymous, diligent professionals going about preparing the countless graphics, statistics, intros, video clips, screen shots for the live game presentation. I say anonymous because we as coaches as well as the fans never get to see these people or understand how hard they are working to make the game look so good. This is the scouting report and walk-thru phase for us basketball coaches. One of the amazing parts… much of the stuff that they seem to spend hours preparing before the live game… doesn’t even get used. As the game unfolds, there is constant re-doing, adding to and adjusting what was done before.
There is so much going on, constantly… everyone talking on headsets at the same time, clacking away on computers, countless monitors full of video or different camera views and recorded material. All the while, no one seemed the least bit confused with all the action or ticked off that you everyone was talking over everyone else. The build up… the final meeting and rehearsal. Running like a well oiled machine.
As we’re getting close to game time, I soon realized that part is NOTHING compared to once the game starts. I felt a shot of adrenaline as the countdown started to being on the air. You could feel excitement rise in THE Truck. Game Time!
Tip off. Talk about precision chaos! The prep time was nothing compared to this!… Jeff, the producer, barking out commands – Scott doing the same, all coordinated, all in sync. Amazingly enough, there is very little stress coming from any of their voices… just instructions: which camera, when to zoom in, go wide, fade to another, bring in a stat or replay. Even a little bit of humor. Amazing.
They work in the live four-minute chunks coordinated with the scorers table and always wanting to steal a few extra seconds to make the presentation of our game more enhanced for the viewers. They are having fun. There are no time-outs, no real breaks in the action for this crew. The live game action is also cluttered with preparing for the next dead ball, media timeout or stoppage when they figure out what is needed to be placed into the presentation. The announcers (Carolyn Peck, Bob Wischusen and Rebecca Lobo) become extensions of the people in THE Truck, but honestly – very few in here listen to what they are saying. They realize this. It is all part of the show. I could hardly concentrate on what the announcers were saying about the game with all the action in side THE Truck.
All of this made me think of our role as coaches on the sidelines. Seeing nearly two dozen games over the last two months, I’ve seen screaming, teaching, ranting, raving, the calm, the studious – all of it. The calm, humorous, deliberate and directive manner in which this crew went about their business was re-affirming that is the best way to go.
After seeing all this action in THE Truck, I’ll stick to coaching… it’s WAY easier to manage than the presentation and production of a live basketball game!
A special thank you, again, to everyone involved and to those unseen who make live basketball games just amazing events to watch.