SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC NEWS) – Carter Blackburn took a break from watching his two young children recently to pick up some groceries in Austin, Texas. On his walk back home he noticed a young boy playing basketball. Blackburn marveled at the simplicity of the game and the first sight of a sport in days.
Blackburn graduated from the Newhouse School of Public Communications in 2001 with a degree in broadcast journalism. After graduating Blackburn joined CBS Sports, and later ESPN and ESPNU, to broadcast college basketball games. He was slated to play-by-play broadcast games for the NCAA Tournament this spring.
Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the NCAA Tournament and numerous professional sports leagues have suspended play, leaving Blackburn out of business for the time being.
“This year that [the break in the season] just came in a hurry in mid-march,” Blackburn said. “So I would say, I’ve switched from sportscaster mode to Daddy Duty.”
Daddy Duty isn’t the only thing keeping Blackburn busy. Recently Blackburn and a buddy teamed up to perform a rooftop concert for their neighbors in Austin. They plugged their guitars into a speaker and played some tunes to whoever was listening. In addition to providing the tunes, Blackburn has spent time writing and reflecting in a journal and sharing his thoughts on social media.
But, Blackburn isn’t the only sports broadcaster using social media as a platform to navigate a time without sports. Chicago White Sox’s play-by-play broadcaster Jason Benetti has been posting videos of himself reading letters from his Twitter direct messages nightly.
Benetti, who graduated from Syracuse University in 2005 with a degree in broadcast journalism, asked his Twitter follows to send him direct messages of letters they wanted a loved one to hear and he would read it for them.
“It’s provided some human connection two people can’t be with each other right now.” Benetti said.”So that’s been a major positive.”
In addition to his personal messages, Benetti has been enjoying the break by connecting with old friends and catching up on the latest television shows. But it’s not all relaxation, Benetti has been meeting with other broadcasters to sharpen his broadcasting game by critiquing old audio.
“It was sort of like being back in school,” Benetti said.
The United States social distancing measures have been extended to April 30th with no word on when sporting activities will resume.