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Professor's book goes behind the scenes of sports broadcasting

"Total Sportscasting: Performance, Production, and Career Development," co-authored by Max Negin in the School of Communications, features an overview of jobs behind and in front of the camera.

Three years ago, Elon University School of Communications Assistant Professor Max Negin began the planning for a book about the technical side of sports broadcasting.

At the same time, Philadelphia 76ers play-by-play voice Marc Zumoff was continuing his work on a book about the performance side of sports broadcasting.

After talking, the two men quickly realized a combination of their ideas might lead to a more enriching and encompassing product—a product they would title “Total Sportscasting: Performance, Production, and Career Development,” which was published in July by Focal Press.

“We had a discussion a couple of years ago and said, ‘Why don’t we combine in front of the camera and behind the camera, and now we have an interesting book on our hands,’” Negin said. “It was a perfect storm, in that he had the idea, and I had the idea.”

Zumoff and Negin knew each long before their fateful conversation three years ago. At one time, Negin worked for two seasons as an associate producer and broadcast coordinator for the 76ers, where he met Zumoff.

Since then, Negin has asked Zumoff to speak to his sports broadcasting class, and it was during one of those class conversations that the idea for a joint venture first arose.

“The focus of the book is to give the sportscasters who are early in their careers an overview of the jobs in front of and behind the camera,” Negin said. “We’re not reinventing textbooks on TV production that are already out there. There are a lot of books that can tell you how to do technical things, but they’re not coming from a sports background, so Marc and I bring a practical, conversational and academic approach to starting your career.”

Negin said what “Total Sportscasting” offers readers that other books typically don’t is advice from industry professionals. The book features wisdom from well-known sports personalities such as MLB Network and Olympic Games studio host Bob Costas, CBS Sports reporter Lesley Visser, sportscaster Jim Lampley and Los Angeles Dodgers play-by-play voice Vin Scully. But the book also contains thoughts from the people who work behind the scenes running cameras and editing footage.

“There are names you’ve heard of giving opinions, but also a lot of names you’ve never heard of,” Negin said. “But they’re speaking from decades of experience about who they are, what they do, how they got started and how they get better.”

Assistant Professor Max Negin

Negin said he felt obligated to write the book because of the passion he has for his field. One of his primary goals at Elon is to enhance sports broadcasting in the School of Communications, and writing this book allowed him to put his expertise to paper.

Negin advises “Elon Phoenix Weekly,” a show that covers Elon athletics and airs Saturday mornings on ESPN2, and teaches courses such as Sports Broadcasting, Sports and Media, and Creating Multimedia Content.

“Sports tell great stories,” Negin said. “The play-by-play tells the story of the game using voice, the camera person is telling stories using pictures they compose, the editor is telling stories by combining pictures and sound. Everybody is contributing to a story of the game. When we talk about reality TV, we’re talking about real people doing real things. Sports, you hope, is unpredictable and unscripted.”

In addition to the book, Negin said he and Zumoff are composing accompanying online materials and beginning a blog that will address current issues in the field. Negin himself said he’s currently working on a couple of documentaries and continuing to do freelance work because “it’s critical that if I’m going to teach it, I still need to be involved in sports broadcasting production.”

Negin is a four-time Emmy award winner, who has worked as an editor, writer and producer for NBC, ABC, FOX, ESPN, HBO and Comcast SportsNet. He’s also worked as a digital media manager for NBC’s Olympics coverage four times: Beijing in 2008, Vancouver in 2010, London in 2012 and Sochi in 2014. He said he hopes to head to the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, as well.

Colin Donohue,
9/3/2014 6:05 PM