Brad Muller writes features stories as the Director of Content for South Carolina Athletics. He is also a radio and television sports play-by-play broadcaster covering a variety of intercollegiate athletics events for the last 30 years. Check out more of the “From Where I Sit” columns here.
If you try it, you might like it …and I’m not talking about eating vegetables.
College sports are great. When you get to spend your career working in college athletics, it makes it even better. In my varying roles over the last 30 years as a broadcaster and administrator, I get to see the “other side” of sports. This not only includes getting to know student-athletes beyond what fans see on game day (a story for another day), but also the opportunity to dive into other sports that many others may be missing.
Did you know that some college competition swimming pools are outdoors? It makes me wonder, if there’s a strong wind, is it like swimming against the tide? The Gamecocks home facility is indoors, so you won’t be affected by the weather, but if you haven’t been to a meet. Check it out. The diving competitions are amazing as well!
Did you know that college golfers carry their own bags, and they aren’t allowed to use golf carts? Try doing that for 36 holes in one day, followed up by 18 holes the next morning. I’m not a golfer, but I know a bag full of clubs is heavy, and you know what, it gets hot out there! I’ll be waiting in the clubhouse.
Did you know that track and field coaches and swimming and diving coaches often coach their student-athletes for national team events, even when they are representing countries other than the United States? How cool is it to have Gamecock coaches continuing to train their student-athletes for the Olympics and other international competitions?!!
I really enjoy college softball. There is tons of skill and strategy, but it can also be a much faster game than baseball (in many cases, two hours or less), and you don’t have 19 pitching changes. What really makes it great from where I sit is that nobody has more fun on game day than softball players. Seriously, they have more fun on game day and in between every pitch than anybody. Sure, they want to win, but it’s refreshing to see that the game is still fun, even on a bad day.
Perhaps the only confusing thing in softball for me, even after all these years, is the Designated Player/Flex player rules. It’s not a DH. Don’t get me wrong, I like that you can re-enter a player and such, but there are times that I still have to refer back to the rule sheet to make sense of it all. It’s not quite as confusing as early 1980s computer coding: 10 print N, 20 if N < 5, then print ‘Holy Moly.’ Anyone else remember that? It’s still great for creating exciting options within a game without actually losing a player. (The DP rule, not 1980s coding).
In some levels of college tennis, there is not a linesman or chair umpire for every match. A lot of the calls on whether a ball is in or out relies on the honor system. Can this cause problems or hard feelings? You bet it can, and it does. With six singles matches playing simultaneously at each team match, it’s not feasible to have officials at every match on every court at every level of college tennis. An official may be placed on a court if there are discrepancies during that match. Can you imagine if all sports did this? “No, that wasn’t really a strike. It was ball four, so take your base,” said no catcher ever.
Oh, and in college tennis, there is a ton of intensity after each point. There are shouts and screams that you might normally witness with a posterizing slam dunk. If you haven’t been to the Carolina Tennis Center to watch South Carolina’s nationally ranked men’s and women’s teams, check it out! It’s not a lot of quiet, polite clapping that is associated with “old school” lawn tennis.
Finally, did you know that Beach Volleyball matches are sort of like a party? It’s one of the only sports I’ve seen where music is playing during competition. At South Carolina’s Wheeler Beach (no, it’s not really a beach, and it’s conveniently located right beside the softball stadium), you can bring your own beach chairs right up to the edge of the sand pits for a front row seat of the action. With multiple matches playing simultaneously, it’s never boring. A word of warning: the matches go fast so if you arrive a little late, you might have missed most of it!
If you’re not a regular to attending sports outside of football, baseball, and basketball, I encourage you to check out some of the other Gamecock teams that are doing great things. From where I sit, you may be surprised at how much you’ll enjoy it!
Do you have a favorite sport to watch or attend? Tell me what it is and why. Share this story and hit me via Twitter @SCBrad92.
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