View Full Version : Sky presenter/ Steelers supporter

01-11-2008, 04:27 AM
Sky`s NFL presenter,Nick Halling comes clean!........


Each week through the season Sky’s Nick Halling will be giving nfluk.com readers an insight behind the scenes in the broadcasting world. In this week’s column Nick explains how hard it is to balance being a broadcaster and a fan at this time of year.

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You were probably asleep. Or hung over. On second thoughts, if you are reading this, you were probably wide awake and glued to your television screens at 4 o’clock this past Sunday morning, watching the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Jacksonville Jaguars attempt to settle their differences.

As I have said before, those middle of the night games for us can sometimes be a killer, especially for members of the production team, like audio engineers, lighting specialists, vision mixers and the like, who frankly don’t follow American football, don’t understand it, and wonder why they are wearing all the padding in the first place.

But there was no chance of anybody falling asleep on the set of Studio Six at Sky in those early hours, because one member of the team was bouncing off the ceiling and walls as the Steelers suddenly got their game together and almost pulled off the biggest fourth-quarter playoff comeback in NFL history. I don’t think I was very much fun to be around, if I am brutally honest.

We had more than one email the following day asking how I manage to cope while watching the Steelers. “How do you manage to keep it together?” asked one in particular. The more pertinent question might be to ask my colleagues how they cope with me.

Kev learned a long time ago to simply tune me out. It’s easier and safer that way. But Scott McCready was looking at me with genuine wonderment. He’d never seen me like that before, and we’ve known each other for a while now.

As for the rest of the crew, many of whom don’t know me at all, and probably think of me as nothing more dangerous than a slightly statty, nerdy geek, they must have wondered how a borderline schizophrenic had managed to get onto the set.

Because the truth is that when the Steelers are on, especially if it’s an important game like a playoff or something, I tend to get a little carried away once in a while.

Every so often, someone complains about the fact the Kev likes the Bills and I follow the Steelers. We should be “impartial” apparently. I agree with that in the main. We are not there to be cheerleaders for our particular chosen passions. We are there to talk about what’s going on, either in our game, or in the NFL as a whole.

The way I see it, you have to draw a line between being a fan, and being a professional broadcaster (which sounds horribly pompous and self-important, but I’m not quite sure how to put it another way, and I hope you know what I mean.).

If we were there acting as cheerleaders, it would soon get pretty wearing and annoying. However, if viewers know our personal allegiances and preferences, well surely that makes us similar each other. Most of us enjoy the game for the game’s sake, but human nature means that inevitably we find ourselves leaning to one side or another for whatever reason.

After all, how many people are watching this sport as some kind of academic exercise, simply to enjoy the intricacies of blocking schemes, or how a secondary is switching out of a man look into zone? OK, there are some people out there doing exactly that, but let’s move on…..

Over the years, I have garnered plenty of criticism from Steelers fans, ironically enough, saying that I am actually biased against them. This might actually have a grain of truth in it, because so determined am I not to come across as a homer, that I might actually be more critical of them than I would be if they were just another team.

And other times, you have to bite your tongue and control the inner-fan. I remember a playoff game in 2002, when the Steelers lost in overtime in Nashville. Joe Nedney, Tennessee’s kicker, missed a game-winning field goal in overtime, over to fall over theatrically under the lightest of contacts from a Steelers defender.

It was a great performance, worthy of Cristiano Ronaldo at his finest, and the officials bought it lock stock. Out came the flags, up stepped Nedney for a second chance, and that was it. Game over.

Cut back to us in the studio. And I clearly remember talking rationally and objectively about what a disappointing way to end a playoff game, but the Steelers can have no complaints because they didn’t get the job done. Whilst privately wishing personal harm upon Joe Nedney.

Then there was the extraordinary playoff game in Indianapolis two years ago. You remember: the Bettis fumble, the Vanderjagt miss, the whole drama of Dungy, one of the most emotion-packed games I’ve ever been privileged to witness. As the field goal goes wide right, I’m swinging from the lighting deck.

But within seconds, it is back down to earth to try and say something meaningful. After all, there were Colts fans watching that one too, and they would have been feeling absolutely devastated. The last thing they needed was to see a Steeler fan in the studio grinning like a lunatic and punching the air in unbridled delight. Which is precisely what I had been doing up until a few seconds earlier I might add…..

In summary, it is a balancing act, one which I sincerely hope I get right more often than not. But believe me, when the Steelers are on, you should try and get a camera on me, because I am like two different people. I care. Sometimes I wish I didn’t. But I do. I suppose that’s the definition of being a fan.

But when you are in a TV studio, you aren’t a fan (or you shouldn’t be – unless watching an England match, apparently). You’ve got a job to do. And, as I remind myself on a regular basis, its one of the best jobs in the world.

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01-17-2008, 11:23 AM
Wow! that's awesome. thanks for sharing!

01-17-2008, 01:09 PM
Wow! that's awesome. thanks for sharing!

I`m glad you liked it Counselor!
Nick Halling seems to have an encyclopedic knowledge of the NFL....he knows his American Football....for a limey anyway! :smile: