Tuesday, August 25, 2015

This (Non) Sporting Life: And Lo They Shall Call Him....Tangles

Yesterday's post was inspired by my home city's golf tournament and the arrival of Tiger Woods to our fair city. While writing that, I thought back to an experience that I had with the tournament.

The time I worked for ESPN. 

It was the spring of 1982. Back then, our golf tournament was called the GGO, the Greater Greensboro Open. In later years it would be called the K-Mart GGO and the Chrysler GGO before Wyndham Resorts stepped in, dropping the GGO part and dropping the whole shebang in the middle of August. 

As it turned out, the GGO coincided with my college spring break and my roommate found out that ESPN was hiring go-fers for the weekend. At first I thought he meant "gophers" but giving it some thought, I realized that didn't make sense. I mean, I don't know a lot about sports but even I'm pretty sure that ESPN wouldn't really need to hire actual gophers.

No, ESPN was looking to hire some high school and college kids to do whatever needed doing. We would get paid and we would get fed. Money and food? Ka-ching! We were there!

It may have been springtime in Greensboro but the weather had other ideas. Breezy, cold and overcast. (I would still get sunburned. Weird!) Me and the other guys gathered round to find out what the gig was. It turns out we were going to working with sound technicians, setting up mikes and laying down power cords. Regarding said power cords, our ESPN boss for the weekend told us, "You need to be careful with these cords and cables. It's easy to get them tangled up so keep 'em straight and neat. And I assure you, by the end of the day, I will name one of you 'Tangles'." 

Stop laughing! You're jumping ahead of the story! And besides maybe this is not how its going to play out. Maybe this is the story of a plucky young man from college who not only avoids ignominy but actually does better than anyone, even himself, had expected. Maybe this is a story of success and...

OK, fine! At the end of the day, I was Tangles.


You know, it's not fair. Really, all through the day, I was the man when it came to running cords and cables. I kept loops firm but loose enough to lay 'em down quickly. I was determined: as God as my witness, I would not be known as Tangles!  

As dusk fell and the last player had long since shot his last putt, we began to gather our equipment and rolling up all the cords and cables. After several minutes, and I'm still not sure how any of this happened because I was being so careful, I looked like I had been trapped in a tuna net.

We were all wearing headsets to keep us connected to the sound truck. And the sound producer announced through those headsets, "Hey, guys! We have our 'Tangles'." 

And for the rest of the GGO, I was Tangles.

"Tangles, we need a mike set up at the 13th green."

"Tangles, get a directional mike on that golfer." 
"OK, Tangles, time to break for lunch."

There was one moment on the last day of the tournament that I had a particularly cool moment. Along with another guy, I was set up covering the 16th hole. The sound producer was really big on catching landing sounds when the balls hit the green. The problem was the day was very overcast and it was almost impossible to see the golf ball as it arced through the air. The first time we could see the ball was once it hit the green and it was too late then to aim the directional mike at it. That didn't stop out sound guy from wanting landing sounds.

"C'mon, Tangles, we need to hear that ball hitting the green."

The other guy with me by the green wasn't having much better luck. So we came up with a plan. Holding the directional mike in our left hand, we held an extended finger next to the mike with our right hand. And then, instead of trying to find the ball in the clouds, we could focus on the green. But we wouldn't need to aim the mike. Then the second the ball hit the green...

Thump went my finger along side the mike.

"Great landing sound, Tangles! Great job!" 

And thus was the extent of my career as a sound tech for ESPN.

Thanks for reading. I'll be back with another post tomorrow. Until then, be good to one another.

I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You 

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