Your Attention, Please

By Jeff Munn

Football is back and for lots of people, it’s a welcome sight….and sound.

As people gather at high school, college and pro games it’s a chance to acquaint themselves with the sounds of the marching bands, the cheerleaders and the popping of shoulder pads.

At some football games, there’s another sound that’s starting to drown out all those others, and it’s time somebody did something about it.

So, when you gather with your friends at a stadium large or small, do yourself, and your fellow fans a favor. If the person on the PA system is talking, or screaming loudly, turn to the press box and give them the following advice:

Shut up.

I learned a very valuable lesson my first year as the stadium announcer for ASU Football in 1987. Tom Collins, who was then as is he is now an Assistant Athletic Director at ASU, told me something I had never considered before – people come to games not just to see the game, but to hear it. And they surely don’t want someone yelling at them through electronic speakers non stop for three and a half hours.

I’m not knocking public address announcing. It brought me a lot of personal joy and a few dollars for many years. Still, I can’t understand why some who sit behind those microphones feel it is their duty to shove their existence down your throat.

If you’re a PA Announcer at a local high school, let me ask you – could they put on a game without a PA system? Yes, they could. Could they do it without football players? Uh, no. Now you should have a pretty good idea of just how important you are in the grand scheme of things.

Public address announcers are like valet parking at a five star restaurant. They should enhance the experience, but if the customer is talking about you on the way home, that means you didn’t do your job right, and the steak didn’t make up for it.

I hate to tell you this, Mr. or Ms. Loud, Obnoxious Public Address Announcer but outside of perhaps your family, no one at the game came to hear you talk. I’m speaking from experience. In all the years I did P.A. work from Carl Hayden High School to Phoenix College to ASU, the Cardinals, Suns and D-backs, not one person EVER bought a ticket to hear me speak. That little thing going on in the middle of the field, court or diamond was what got them there.

Truthfully, if someone was that anxious to hear me talk, I’d give them my phone number and tell them to call at a decent hour. That they could do for free.

Too often the person assigned to the high school football game is a teacher or administrator who looks at the job as his or her opportunity to be a star. Please. You really think people drove to the game wondering how you would scream “TTHHIIRRDD DDOOWWNN”?

I’d love to see high schools use football and basketball games as an opportunity to let responsible students take a shot at doing something that might open a door for them to a career. Carl Hayden High School did that with a senior in 1975, and nothing, NBA Finals, World Series, Olympics, would have happened for me if they didn’t take that chance.

The history teacher can go do Karaoke.

Now, before someone I’ve just offended says, “They yell and scream at the pro games”, you’re right. Those organizations are in the business of selling tickets and putting on an entire entertainment package. I don’t agree with the approach – at some point, pro fans, too, are wanting to hear the event and not someone screaming something we were all pretty aware of to begin with, but it’s a slightly better fit there than at a high school, where people screaming “Go Team” is a lot better sound than a PA announcer screaming “DEFENSE.”

I’m sorry to burst a hole in the balloon of a lot of people who really thought all those people bought tickets because of their ability to yell. Sorry, they didn’t.

So this season, Mr. or Ms. Loud Obnoxious High School Football Public Address Announcer, the frustrated biology teacher looking for that big break that will lead to fame and fortune, do us all a favor. Either let a student do the job, or, follow the fans’ advice. Shut up.