We’re LIVE

Today was a 22.5 hour day – woke up in Orlando at 5:30am EST flew direct to Memphis for meetings all day, then flew and had a layover in Chicago and just landed back into SFO (12:00am) and will then drive 45 minutes home, getting me home at about 1:15am PST or 4:00am EST… A lot of travel time and conversations with people on the plane and at the terminal – which echoed the fact that it’s really hard for me to explain to people what I do….

Especially when I’m balancing different tasks at once and often wearing different “hats” depending on the city I happen to be that day.

(WARNING – this is a long one, I made he best of my 7 hours in the air tonight… You may want to skip to the pictures at the end – or order a pizza if you’re gonna try to make it to the end)

One day I might be writing a course manual for our educational and training department, the next day I am reworking the venue layout of a 10,000 person event based on customer feedback, later that evening I’ll be fielding customer service e-mails and phone calls and the next morning I’ll be flying cross country for a choreography session with one of my awesome customers – not exactly a quick answer when someone in an elevator asks what you do for a living UNLESS the elevator is broken and you both aren’t going anywhere for a while…

And because I work in a very unique and one of a kind field, sometimes get to fill some pretty awesome and unconventional roles!

This past weekend at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, FL I got to live my ESPN College GameDay dream and commentate for a live sporting event!

Now this wasn’t my first rodeo as I have filmed live before for ESPN3 and Varsity TV. And I have emceed and announced at hundreds events throughout my career – BUT when you are LIVE there is a whole new level of pressure and expectation.

For some reason I lack the “fear of public speaking” that would traumatized most people in front of a crowd of thousands  (which may also have something to do with my ability to talk for hours on end, monopolize conversations and ask to many questions… but hey – it works for TV). But just because I don’t mind the crowd doesn’t mean I don’t have my own quirks about the task at hand (or fear of being LIVE and making mistakes you don’t live down 3 years later – so I hear, not that it’s happened to me or anything…)

Being on camera isn’t just about looking the part and introducing the segments – it’s about relating to the audience, doing your subject justice and representing the organization you are a part of. Any one of these tasks brings a weight of responsibility that can keep you up at night.

Knowing that I would be filming live for 10-30 minutes at a time first meant generating enough content to fill the time. Luckily for me I have been blessed to always have an amazing production team who know WAY more than me and have a vision and direction for the show (Jenni, Melanie, Angela and Monica – you all have taught me SO much). I don’t think viewers or even the audience recognize that there is a person who times the entire production down to the second to make sure every graphic, lead in, toss, feature, camera, angle, audio, “talent” and logo are exactly where they need to be at all times – I have so much respect for the producers who are truly the brains of the operation! And I can’t even begin to express the respect I have for the cameramen, videographers, editors, control desk operators and production assistants who are seen and unseen but literally make magic happen (Tom, Greg, Dustin and the entire FloSports team – hats off to you all).

And I have always had the privilege to work with experienced pros who are constantly teaching me through their actions, behaviors and experience (Especially Mark, Amy and Stephanie – but if Mark brings this up socially I will deny I ever gave him a compliment, lol).

I am extremely grateful that someone somewhere felt that my opinion was worth sharing and gave me the opportunity to be the person to fill the viewers at home in on what they were missing at the event – a task I take very seriously, especially when the topic is hard working athletes! Even though the on camera work was less than three hours on Sunday, the work behind the scenes started bright and early on Friday! I had to do my research on the topics, engage in conversations with subject matter experts, take detailed notes and tie in factual and relavent details – all things that Ryan Seacrest probably has minions for but I enjoyed the hustle! I hope that the message we brought to the show showcased the talent displayed all weekend, the respect we have for the athletes at the event and brought credibility and integrity to the sport.

And while the planning is great – sometimes you change the game plan and roll with the punches wearing a smile and making sure the show goes on so the viewers are unaware of any mistakes or changes (all while fires are being put out behind the scenes).

Last season I held down the anchor desk on my own – an experience that really challenged my abilities and had me test my comfort zones… but this weekend I got paired with an amazing co-host with an impressive resume who challenged me to raise my game and share the responsibilitie on camera. I think the dynamic we shared on camera made the show better and allowed both of us to be more of ourselves on camera! You know you’ve got a great partner when he can read you and so eloquently break you (mid ramble) so you can take a moment to breathe before you dive back into a detailed video review (I might have passed out if he didn’t save me a few times – lack of oxygen = bad news bears). And I think Mark enjoyed my company too – based on the picture above it looks like he was trying to hold my hand – lol

Talk about BIG TIME (kidding)! But for real, there is nothing cooler than being listed in a program under someone you have the utmost respect and admiration for! My life took a very unique path filled with curve balls, opportunities and amazing experiences – all that came from the ideas, drive and vision of Mr. Jeff Webb! So to be hosting an event with his stamp of approval is #BucketList worthy! Mark was listed last – but only because they were waiting for confirmation on how to spell his last name (Mark, why doesn’t your last name have more vowels?!?!?).

Again, I can’t give the team behind the scenes enough credit for taking a truck full of pelican cases and what seems like enough cable to repel Mt. Everest (the real one, not the one at Animal Kingdom) and create a stage anywhere at anytime! Custom mic flags, custom desk logos, perfect lighting, comfortable chairs, a TV screen so we can see what the monitors and audience is viewing at home – seriously, they think of everything!

I have to admit – having someone else do my hair bugs me… I guess because 99.99% of the time I am the only person to touch my hair, but we had an awesome artist on set (Shelby!!!!) who didn’t make me look as crazy as artists have done in the past (I’m referencing the awful “Great Gadsby” hair of 2013 – Don’t ask for photos, they have been burned). And like most males I know, I don’t wear makeup – but I gladly welcome the makeup chair when filming because stage lighting DOES NOT do anyone favors – I’m not getting any younger (“young people,” if you are reading this MOISTURIZE and wear sunscreen before it’s too late)!

I loved the opportunity to recognize the hard work, determination and accomplishments of so many performers over the weekend – and I’m equally proud of the team who made it all happen who don’t always get the due credit they deserve! I love that a small group of the staff were able to take this photo! There are so many hands that touch these big projects and countless man-hours of set-up, operation, management and tear down that happen and I truly feel like we have the BEST in the game (Melanie(s), Michelle, Josh, Damianne and the entire VAS team – you are second to none)! Full disclosure – It use to bug me seeing one divisions call themselves “family” being on the other side of the fence and feeling like one division was better than the other… but as time went on and our culture evolved I proudly break on the word FAMILY (on 3) and feel that the word means more by every event and obstacle we experience and conquer – together! This diverse group (and so many more not pictured) all bring different things to the table, have a unique and different story but all have the same goal and mission – to create lifelong memories for young people – and I am thrilled that I got to do that this weekend!

And like the aftermath of most events, I fly out the next day and hit the airport generally packed with attendees from that weekends. The ultimate reward – seeing them all wear the backpack, t-shirt or medal they earned at the event… but the icing on the cake – when a parent recognizes you in the Terminal A McDonalds line and says, “Thank you for making a big deal for XYZ – my daughter is a Senior on that team” and you know you made a difference…

So if anyone asks me as I make my trek back home just exactly what I do for a living – my response is going to be “I make a difference” and even if it was only for that one kid – the work that went into the weekend was worth it and the “hat” I wore this weekend fit!

Matthew Goto, OUT! 🎤