A Look into the Career of Jim Nantz: A Q&A about his Play-by-Play Job at CBS Sports

1. When did you first realize that you wanted to become a sports broadcaster? Who/What was your inspiration for becoming a sports broadcaster?

A. When I was 11 years old I was watching the Masters Golf Tournament with my dad. I heard these voices and had a tremendous sense about all things on the planet, people, places, countries, culture and they had a way to tell stories. These stories hooked me to want to watch. I wanted to be a story teller. I was really transfixed by the way they talked and I loved they way they told the story and at that very point in 1970 I told my dad that one day I wanted to be one of those voices and I wanted to learn how to tell stories like that.

2. Between all of the different sports that you broadcast, which is the most fulfilling for you?

A. I get to focus on the NFL, NCAAB, and golf. All three are very special to me. It is the same as asking a parent which is your favorite child. I love the excitement and energy and broadcasting the national game of the week during the NFL season is great. It’s so alive in the final four that you think that it can’t get any better than this.When I arrive at the doorstep of Augusta National at the Masters, I realize I am tapping into my childhood dream and it cuts deep with me. They are all vastly different but extremely fulfilling in their own way.

3. Step by step: how do you prepare for your lead play-by-play job? Do you change the way you prepare depending on the sport?

A. We could fill up all of Inklings with that question. More than anything I read. I am a voracious reader. My days are spent surfing the internet, reading sports periodicals, columns, press releases. I read and read and read. That’s the short of it off site. On site, I talk to the players and coaches asking them what’s on their minds. It sounds rather simple but it gets you a long way. Be diligent in your preparation and reading and have an awareness of what’s going on.

4. What do you enjoy most about your job?

A. The thing I enjoy the most is that I have the chance to really work by finding a story. I get to deliver all the background information in a succinct, accurate, and fresh way. When you feel like a story has been told in a fresh, accurate, or succinct way, there is nothing better.

5. In 2007 you became the first commentator to announce the Super Bowl, the NCAA Final Four, and the Masters in the same year. What does that mean to you?

A. It meant a lot to me because those are the three biggest events in American sports. Next year I will get to do that again because every three years CBS does the Super Bowl. I will do the triplets one more time. The thing is it happens in such a short time, 69 days, nine weeks. I feel very blessed and fortunate that those assignments have landed in my lap. You are lucky to get to do one of them and to get to do all three of them in one, two month period is an honor. I have no sense of entitlement that says to me that it is my birthright to do these events and I am happy CBS has entrusted me to do these events.

6. What was your most memorable game coverage, interview, or experience while at CBS?

A. Probably the 24 years of doing the Final Four. There are number of great memories there. the 24 years of doing the Masters. The Super Bowl in 2007 when the Colts beat the Bears and the game opened with a kickoff return of a touchdown. There was so much at stake. It was the first time in history of the game a kickoff was returned for a touchdown and that was a highlight. When Tiger won the Masters in 1997. For Tiger to win his first professional major, a moment in history that was going to be played back 50, 100, 200 years from now. That was special to be able to have the caption for it. It was a win for the ages, a moment for centuries and to try to tell that story was very rewarding.

7. What type of pressure are you under?

A. There is a tremendous amount of pressure especially when broadcasting for a network. The audience is large, its live, there is no backspace bar in live television and as soon as it leaves your lips it is in the rooms of millions of Americans. There is the pressure to do it right, say it right, and get it right the first time.

8.  How do you feel about being a four-time National Sportscaster of the Year and going back to back in 2007 and 2008?

A. Really honored. My year in 2008 was rough. I lost my father, that says it all. I lost a man who was an idol of mine, Mr. MacKay, the ultimate to me in the business. In a year that I lost my dad and because I lost a hero, to be remembered for the year winning the national award is a huge thrill. I don’t ever expect to win it. I am fortunate to win it four times. If I never won it again, I would be more than satisfied. No one in CBS history has ever won it four times. It is more than I can imagine.

9. Is there a certain call that was special to you?

A. Fred Couples winning the Masters in 1992. He used to be my roommate and we rehearsed the moment. I claimed that I would work at CBS. I dreamed of one day being at CBS to be at Butler Cabinet. His dream was to win the green jacket. We would rehearse, practice it, make it into an audio cassette tape. When he finally won, it was tough to get the words out to be honest. My teeth were chattering, my voice was a quiver.

10. What advice would you have for anybody that wants to pursue a career in broadcasting?

A. Read, learn how to tell a story, take note of the ways stories are told in written form or verbally. Whether it is the way a parent says a bedtime story or your pastor or rabbi delivers a message, what way a school teacher tells you a story, take note of it. Know how to tell stories beginning, middle, and end. Learn how to be a riveting story teller. Take English studies seriously. Really pay close attention in English class and it is just as important as the media and journalism classes. Learn to love the language.