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Commentary: Living out my boyhood dream

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Brett Fera
By Brett Fera
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday November 26, 2002

I sit at home on a usual night, not unlike that group of college guys inhaling pizza while propped in front of the picture-box, or that middle-aged gang of friends who gather to drink a few beers, play some cards and stare at the tube.

But now, when many sports fans watch television, they are not just viewing a game they experience it. It's no longer just the Michael Jordans and Brett Favres that people remember; it's the Dick Vitales and the John Maddens that leave a lasting impression.

These guys can even make the Professional Bowling Association exciting.

My first experience in this world all started when the powers that be at the Wildcat, who pay me so handsomely, assigned me to cover the Icecats series with DePaul this weekend.

But when I arrived Saturday, my view on sports and, for that matter, what I want to do with my life came full circle, when I myself became a part of the action.

It was a night like any other at the Tucson Convention Center, as Icecat fans old and young or simply "the cult," as I like to call them entered the "Madhouse on Main Street."

I headed down to ice level about 30 minutes before game time to meet with head coach Leo Golembiewski, who recruited me earlier in the week to be interviewed between periods by Icecat play-by-play voice John Dadante live on ESPN radio.

My night changed quickly, however, when Golembiewski informed me that instead of just an interview, I would actually be in the booth for the entire game, giving my take beside regular color commentator Brian Baltosiewich. Baltosiewich was filling in for Dadante, who worked as the TCC public address announcer during the game.

While I never pictured my start being at a college hockey game let alone in the middle of a desert this was something that I had dreamed about as a kid, and could not wait to begin.

But that's when it hit me. Did I really have any clue as to what I was getting myself into?

Sure, I have known all along that I want a career in broadcasting sports broadcasting, actually. Whether on television or radio, it has been my passion since I came to the realization that if I could never play sports, what better job could there be than to talk about them?

While I would love to be another Luke Walton, I realize that I was not born with a 6-foot-8 frame and the ability to dish pinpoint behind-the-back-passes like I have eyes in the back of my head.

I realized when I was younger that I was fat, slow and needed to learn a new trade if I wanted to keep up the dream of working in sports, which led to my ultimate goal.

Sports announcers on ESPN, among other networks, are whom I look to for insight on "why" UA basketball beat Western Kentucky by almost 40 points last Saturday, and for a description of an image that we can see so clearly, but do not have the words to describe in the full beauty that it can carry.

It was not until Saturday night that I realized that the work that sportscasters do teaching us about the game while we watch deserves just as much recognition as the athletes we have looked up to who can score touchdowns or notch strikeouts.

Not to say that I did well by any means during my assignment in fact, my performance was less than mediocre, at best but by taking the place of my personal sports heroes, the guys (and ladies) behind the microphones, for just one evening, made me realize that in today's society, watching or listening to sports is just as much about who is talking and describing the play let alone those creating the graphics and pictures we see on the screen as it is about the players who are actually slamming home the alley-oop at the buzzer.

So, while I might not be choosing a career that will change the world, I would love nothing more than to be able to have a vocation that somehow involves the facilitating of the ever-lasting battle over the arguments that make sports so intriguing Is offense more important than defense? (No). Is college better than pro? (Yes). Is natural grass really that much better than Astroturf? (Oh, God, yes).

I can claim to have found my calling at a young age, but I really didn't get the opportunity to experience it until Saturday, when the Icecats dropkicked DePaul 16-2.

With this opportunity comes not a lesser admiration for those who play the game, but a greater appreciation for those who make us feel like we are actually there.

Sports are my life, and all I want to do is sit back all day and watch some games. But eventually, I want to be the one people hear inside the television, not the one sitting in front of it.

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