I’m going to perform public address (PA) announcing duties for a basketball game for the first time in 22 years, in my first varsity game, in fact, when Warsaw hosts Wawasee Friday, Dec 17. I’m excited about it.

I’m a stand-in for a single game, but I continue to believe - as I have over eight years of announcing -  every varsity and sub varsity scholastic event is an audition.

“Every (event) is an audition” is something oft-read and oft-heard in the National Association of Spots Public Address Announcers (NASPAA), an organization I belong to comprised of members from scholastic to professional-level sports announcers. It’s closing shop soon (Dec 31), but I enjoyed my membership over the years.

The NASPAA offered a guidebook “The Voice Above The Crowd” containing numerous templates for announcing sports and other entertainment events. It’s a comprehensive how-to manual for announcers, but it’s not for broadcasters. There is a difference between the two roles.

There are announcers who improperly approach PA announcing , whether they did or didn’t join NASPAA or read “The Voice….” It’s neither illegal nor immoral to go rogue, but it is poor taste.

I’ve been covering high school sporting events at high school campuses beyond the confines of Warsaw Community High School. It’s difficult to restrain myself from evaluating the PA announcers at these events in a small section of my brain while I’m covering each contest.

I evaluate whether the announcer is doing something I should integrate into my routine or doing something I should add to my list of don’ts. It could be a housekeeping step, or something spoken over the mic.

I’m especially eager to shamelessly steal phrases when they comfortably fit into my vernacular. “…and friends,” for instance, is something I unapologetically stole from Northridge’s football PA announcer when there were additional unidentifiable defenders in on a tackle.

Props to professionalism among PA announcers at Carroll, Manchester, Northfield, Penn, and Triton whom I’ve enjoyed hearing to this point in this scholastic sports year.

They do it right. They convey essential information to the fans, they don’t serve as loudspeaker cheerleaders or homers, and they’re gracious hosts to their guest teams’ fan bases. These announcers aren’t entertaining. They’re not supposed to entertain. They’re constructively boring, in fact. I would rather be boring than annoying, too, so I find them impressive.

Fans in the stands won’t hear them, or me for that matter, editorialize the action with words like “big hit” or “key block.” They won’t tell you to get up on your feet and make some noise.

There are PA announcers, on the other hand, who are well-intentioned, but they’re downright homers. They hadn’t read, or they had read but chose to ignore “The Voice…” and instead they chose to mimic what they see and hear on televised professional sporting events.

We PA announcers are not the main event once action starts among the pitch, the field, the hardcourt, and the diamond. I remind myself the game’s paid attendance is comprised of fans from the opponents’ schools, who will also contribute to my host school’s concessions revenue.

Those of you who’ve heard me announce wrestling pre-match face-offs, softball lineups and at-bat walk-ups, and pre-game soccer lineups might be thinking Mr. Pot is calling Mr. Kettle black. It’s obvious whose house you’re visiting during my pregame introductions, as it will be for about 65 seconds at Friday’s basketball game. Once game action starts, however, it’s time for me to convey essential information to the fans, and to be constructively boring.

I’m even getting rid of “goooooaaaaal” from my soccer PA vernacular in 2022 even though it’s acceptable at high school level. It just feels so, so wrong.

Any announcement after the face-off of wrestlers’ names for each team, and their subsequent matches’ results once action has commenced this year is equally energetic.

If you’re turning your head toward my spot in the press box once the game starts, then it’s time for me to remember what made you turn your head, and to correct it immediately.

Nick Deranek is the only high-energy announcer I could tolerate over the last two years because he used the exact level of high energy to announce baskets scored by both teams during an IHSAA sectional basketball game. He went big in a perfect manner in a neutral setting for each team. I have no problem with this.

I cringed, for the record, when I had to announce, “Wave your rally towels…” per the script for an external organization sponsoring a home football game in October because I’m not Warsaw’s cheerleader. I couldn’t believe this Indianapolis-based group, spirited and professional as they were in all other aspects, didn’t see the faux pas in their script.

My sole exception to the homer energy is the baseball and softball walk-ups, music included. Diamond culture is so different. I make up for it with a very spirited visiting team introduction so I won’t feel compelled to shower when I arrive home.

Finally, hats off to Major League Baseball where at least three franchises have female PA announcers: Marysol Castro (New York Mets), Amelia Schimmel (Oakland A’s), and Renel Brooks-Moon (San Francisco Giants). I hope we get to hear more female PA voices among all levels of sport.

Every athletic event, varsity or sub varsity, is an audition. Someone in the audience might have a gig in mind for me, so I’ll err on the side of caution – I mean – boring.