Sports Link Opens Virtual Camp Monday: The Landscape of Sports Production

Ball State Sports Link, the nation’s first four-year sports production academic program, opened its annual Summer Workshop Series, now in a virtual setting due to the COVID19 global pandemic, with a Monday discussion on the overall landscape of sports production.

Over 120 participants have registered in advance for the online workshops slated to run nightly June 8 -11 at 6:30 p.m. ET, with Sports Link instructors, alumni and industry professionals.

Monday’s opening night took a deep dive into sports media production today and its impact on athletes, teams and future professionals.

Sports Video Group’s Brandon Costa (Director of Digital) and the NBA’s Barney Carleton (Senior Manager of Media Operations & Technology) guided campers through the current state of the industry, emerging technology and trends.

Brandon Costa, Sports Video Group

“One of the core things of the sports media industry, you have to be a lifelong learner, ” Costa said. “There is no finish line in this business. Things change. There’s a good chance the job you will have does not exist today.”

Among the many responsibilities of Carleton, now in his fourth year with the NBA, is guiding the NBA Optimal Broadcast Initiative, including at 2019 NBA Summer League with the first live major sports production shot exclusively with 5G enabled smartphones.

“The industry is always changing and evolving,” Carleton said. “If you’re not learning, you’re going to get left behind. Every 18 months something completely unbelievable occurs, and in the COVID-19 environment, we’ve seen that accelerate even more.”

Barney Carleton, NBA

On June 4, the NBA’s Board of Governors approved a competitive format to restart the 2019-20 season with 22 teams returning to play and a tentative start date of July 31. 

The Board’s approval is the first formal step among many required to resume the season and the NBA is working to finalize a comprehensive season restart plan with the National Basketball Players Association.

Costa and his colleagues at Sports Video group are actively part of the discussion around the industry and its return to live sports programming.

“The most important universal truth to this is the virus is still a relatively unknown thing to the world,” Costa said. “If we do come back, we better do it right. If we don’t do it right, we put the health of the crew in danger.

“So much of this job is planning and preparation to the point when you get to the live game you feel 95% of the job is done. Now when you have this kind of climate it requires a heck of a lot more planning. Your job is to put those who work for you — and with you — in a position to succeed.”

The central theme of the camp’s first session always came back to storytelling.

Despite the latest technology and equipment, it’s those who can craft a story who leave their mark on the industry.

Barney Carleton, Senior Manager of Media Operations & Technology, NBA

“You can take the greatest technology in the world,” Carleton said. “You can have more cameras, more microphones, more eyeballs than anything else, but you can still have a bad game that you run out of stories to tell. What is your strategy? What is your content for? What is your audience expecting?

“Using technology as a crutch can hurt your storytelling. You can have too many effects that cloud the pictures and video that tell your story.”

Brandon Costa, Director of Digital, Sports Video Group

After engaging in a Q&A session from participants, Costa left the group with this piece of advice.

“You’re finding your voice, whether you’re an announcer, a video shooter, a podcaster,” Costa said. “You are far from a finished product. You will never be a finished product. Get the reps and get the practice. Find your voices. Find how you like to do things.”

Sports Link’s virtual camp continues Tuesday with a session entitled “Story Talks: More Than Voice”. To capture your audiences’ eyes, ears and hearts, you have to craft a story, both in your feature videos and calling a game.

Learn how to ask quality questions and how to focus your play-by-play to tell the best story possible Tuesday with guests Jack Kizer (ESPN+/Dayton Dragons) and Pat Boylan (Indiana Pacers).

While online registration is closed, if you are interested in joining any of the remaining virtual camp sessions, please email

Author: Chris Taylor

Senior Director of Ball State Sports Link & Digital Sports Production | Lecturer of Telecommunications | 2019 Dean's Faculty Award Winner | 2017 Recipient of SVG College Sports Summit Pioneer Award | Storyteller | Producer | Emmy Award Winner | Sports Media Junkie | Social Media Strategist | Certified Bob Ross® Instructor | Country Music Enthusiast | Goldendoodle Owner | Follow me on Twitter @BallStateCT

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