by Kent Sterling
Life is short, so when people ask me to do something that can cause no damage to my health or the well-being of my family, I say yes.
That philosophy has given me a wide breadth of experiences, and I’ve enjoyed most of them, so when I got an email yesterday from the production manager at WHMB-TV asking whether I would be available to do play-by-play for the Indianapolis Chatard vs. Noblesville High School football game tonight, I called him and said sure.
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One thing for sure about working in live media is that perfection is not an option, and that when the game is over the job ends. Come hell or high water, all you can do is prepare well, do your best, and then get a good night sleep.
That’s my plan.
Whether it goes well, poorly, or somewhere in between, I’m going to drive home with a smile because watching a high school football game is what I would have been doing anyway. By talking into a microphone during the game, I save the admission charge, put a little cash in my pocket, and have a story to tell after.
Sure, it would have been easy to say no, but I can’t find a rational reason for doing it. My only fear is sounding worse than Fox Sports play-by-play voice Dick Stockton, whose work I find joyless and mistake riddled.
Saying yes to intriguing requests is off-putting to some, but we only get to live today one time, so why not take a chance and do something interesting with it?
We tend to fall into comfortable routines, and call it living a successful life. I call it tedious and dull. If you aren’t willing to occasionally step out of that cushy little contentment and try something new, death will be a relief.
I want to get uncomfortable everyday, and that’s why I talk to different people on the radio show (3p-6p weekdays on CBS Sports 1430). There are regulars like Eddie White, Jay Graves, Shimbo, Evan Altman, and Mike Wells, but most days we book someone completely different and try to get them to share the best they have.
Everyone has a great story to tell, or a fascinating piece of insight to passionately share. We try to find those people and encourage them to share the best they have. Talking to strangers as though they are old friends is an odd thing to do, but when else will I get a chance to help someone famous, infamous, or almost entirely anonymous share their best self?
Tonight, I get to sit in a press box, describe high school students doing what they love on a crisp Friday night under the bright lights at Lawrence North High School. Coaches prepare, fans cheer, players bring their best every play, and I will try to do the event and the kids justice with my performance.
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When you say yes, opportunities are boundless. By saying no, interesting things cannot happen. Denying ourselves an evening of fun because of discomfort or performance anxiety narrows our own lanes of existence and limits the joys we can extract from life.
Seems a shame not to say yes to risk-free fun. Ask yourself, “What’s the worst that can happen if I …?” If the answer isn’t a trip to the hospital or worse, saddle up and ride.
Comfortable isn’t a goal – it’s a concession.