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by Noel Mitaxa

Steve’s preoccupation with sport was raising everyone’s stress levels. His teachers, parents and even his friends were whining about his obsession, and he didn’t know how to handle it.

Enter the cavalry, disguised as Tom Reynolds, the local television sports director. He invited Steve to sit in as his team called the high school football playoff, and offered to mentor him in sports media.

Steve was so eager to learn that he arrived an hour before game time. Only to learn from Tom that he should have come earlier. “Amateurs practise to get it right,” he counselled. “We practise till we can’t get it wrong!”

He quickly immersed himself in the adrenalin that infused the commentary team—with throat lozenges and drinks on hand—as they checked past-playoff highlights, player profiles and statistics, team histories and coaches’ comments; until all was ready for instant cueing if needed.

Tom noticed Steve’s sudden querying glance at some silent blooper footage on a monitor, and whispered, “Our call will be accurate and interesting, but we need to remember it’s still only a game.”

A tap on the back door cut across the final sound checks, and a wizened, elderly figure happily stepped inside.

He must be happy to have somehow muscled in past the security guards, thought Steve, until he saw everyone’s welcoming smiles. More puzzlement for him, but again Tom’s voice was cupped into his ear.

“Old 'Silver Tonsils' himself! Steve, you’ve probably never heard of this old guy, but he is a legend. His name is Grant Sewell, and years ago his radio commentary brought even the dullest games to life. Listeners could not only visualise the action as he called it; he helped them almost smell the players’ sweat and liniment!”

Silver Tonsils was obviously in his element, though the equipment surrounding him was a whole new ball game compared to what he’d known. But Steve’s jaw dropped to hear their professionalism suddenly collapse into a casserole of complaints.

“Over-regulation and political correctness is strangling us,” moaned a headphone-clad technician.

“It was easier for you, Grant. You could ad-lib and quip your way through any game, but now we have to use so many sanitized clichés that the freshness has gone,” griped Aaron, Tom’s 2IC.


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