If a Tree Falls…

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

We have all probably heard the philosophical thought – “If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”  If you think I am going to answer this question from my limited experience and observation, you are greatly mistaken.  I have no idea!

What I do have some idea about, however, is whether announcing an event one is not actually attending is truly announcing.  I offer up this weekend’s CBS golf production of the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas.  Because of the coronavirus, there are no fans allowed.  But, also, because of the virus, there are millions of fans just salivating over the ability to watch a LIVE sports production.

But the production itself has changed.  Not only are there no fans, but there are almost no announcers.  Jim Nantz, the CBS guru of golf, finds himself in the TV tower all by himself, with no analyst close by.  Color analyst Nick Faldo is nowhere near the tournament.  He did his analysis from Orlando, Florida.  He was joined by Frank Nobilo and Ian Baker-Finch.  Dottie Pepper and Mark Immelman walked the course with the players.  So it begs (and I mean really begs) the question – “If you are not at the event, are you really announcing?”

I will give you a couple of examples that I experienced during my 50+ years announcing sports.  On two occasions, I called a sporting event that was not happening at the time – one on purpose and one because of technical difficulties.

The first was a District XI track meet.  Since we were broadcasting a number of sporting events at the time, the District asked if we would cover the track championships.  Now, if you are not familiar with a track meet, it is very difficult to televise.  There are a number of events occurring at exactly the same time.  It is virtually impossible to cover this event because of those circumstances.  So, it was decided that we would tape all of the events and I would then announce them as we edited the competition so we could present each event separately.  It worked.

It certainly worked for me because I had all the results before announcing each competition.  I looked like a genius when I offered up favorites and potential outcomes.  Of course, I knew the outcomes ahead of time.  Suffice it to say, my “predictions” were rarely wrong (like never).

The other occasion was much more difficult.  I had called a high school football game and when I got back to the truck, I was told that during the entire game we had no audio.  Again, this was back in the day when everything was taped and not presented LIVE.  I was asked if I could watch the video in the truck and do an audio “redo”.

I gave it my best shot – calling ball carriers, tacklers, yards gained, yard line, penalties and such.  This was not easy and I don’t know whether I pulled it off successfully, but we showed the game and I heard no complaints.

Two years ago, an outside company did a Lafayette basketball game with their two announcers located in their home studio somewhere in the US, but not in Pennsylvania.  I watched.  It was okay, but surely not the same as being there.

I’ll finish the way I started – with a question.  If announcers are not at the event they are televising, is it really announcing?  You be the judge, or better yet, sit in your recliner, turn the sound down, and announce away.  You just might be pretty good at it.

I, for one, hope you are awful and we get back to doing the games the way we have in the past.


  1. It appears that “taking a knee” during the National Anthem might become commonplace in the NFL this year. More and more people are realizing it is about protesting racial inequality and police brutality and not about disrespecting the flag.
  1. Sadly, since I wrote about negotiations in my blog last week, no movement forward has been accomplished by Major League Baseball. It appears that the MLB might just impose their will on the players and dare them to strike.  I was hoping, as I am sure you were, this would have been resolved by now.
  1. Remember the former Penn State quarterback, Christian Hackenberg, who never lived up to the hype both at the college level and for the New York Jets? After two years, he was traded by the Jets after being a second round pick and never playing in a regular season game. He then went to the Raiders and lasted only three weeks.  Now he has decided to try baseball as a pitcher.  The odds are not on his side.  In high school, he had a 7.36 ERA and walked 40 batters in 25 2/3 innings.  The word is he has a lively, but erratic arm.  Sounds similar to his football arm.
  1. The NBA is coming back and they are not messing around with the virus. They are going to test players and staff EVERY OTHER day!  A COVID-19 test and antibody test will be administered on arrival day followed by continuous testing throughout the season. The resumption of play will occur in July.
  1. Watching golf this weekend with no fans did not seem that bad. I guess, like everything else these days, I am getting used to it.  But a Ryder Cup without obnoxious fans from around the world?  No thanks.
Gary Laubach About Gary Laubach

Gary began his broadcasting career with Twin County in 1972. Twin County eventually became C-TEC and then RCN. Gary holds the dual role of Director of Media Services and Sports Director/Broadcaster. He currently broadcasts about 140 sports and entertainment broadcasts a year, and oversees the scheduling of all sporting events for RCN.

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