Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

ESPN's Rece Davis speaks to journalism students

Believe in yourself, hold your craft and do not give up.

That’s the advice ESPN College GameDay host Rece Davis gave Alabama students Thursday afternoon who dream of making it in the sports broadcasting industry.

As a former Alabama graduate, Davis knows what it is like to be in the shoes of a student here. Now, he’s made it to the big leagues.

“It’s pretty easy to give up,” Davis said. “It’s pretty easy to be ordinary and also, for some people, it’s okay. Some people decide they don’t want to do it anymore, that’s fine. That’s not giving up, that’s changing your mind.”

More time than not, Davis said the people who want to do it and do stick with it need to persevere, however. They might not get the job they dreamed off right of the back. They might not get the pay they want or need right off the bat either.

“The people that stick it out and still love it and still enjoy going to work and still enjoy telling stories, covering big events and being in the big events – news or sports, whatever it is – those are the people who will succeed because those are the ones who really love it,” Davis said. “They love what they do. They don’t just love the results or the things that come with it. They love doing it. They love being a part of it.”

Before ESPN, Davis worked as a sports reporter at WJRT-TV in Flint, Michigan. Once he realized his goal was to end up at ESPN, he thought he’d have to go to a big city first, such as New York City or Chicago, but instead, wife Leigh Davis made him skip that step and apply for an open ESPN position.

He got an interview. Then, he got the job. He had to fight for what he wanted once there though. Davis wanted college football, but it wasn’t going to be handed to him.

“I think that was probably the most frustrating thing early on,” Davis said. “You wanted an opportunity to show what you can do, to succeed or fail – however they judge you. That’s the tough thing about this business. Somebody else gets to determine whether you do or don’t do this – not you.”

That was the toughest thing at the beginning professionally he learned.

Now, being prepared week in and week out is his biggest challenge, but also, his biggest fear.

“It’s ongoing,” he said. “You never feel like you’ve done enough.”

Davis spends hours researching and learning everything he can about a team in general and also its statistics. It’s just what has to be done to give the viewers the best show that Davis and his coworkers can.

“You have to put in the effort,” Davis said. “If you just try to show up and take the surface level notes, it’s not going to serve the view the way it should. Sooner or later, it’ll tell on you.”

He’s not naïve though. He knows everyone is going to make mistakes. It is bound to happen with how long they’re talking on-air. Little mistakes are easy to move on from.

“The ones that are harder for my to forgive myself on are the ones that if I know somewhere in my gut that I didn’t prepare,” Davis said. “Generally, I don’t recall an instance where that did happen because I am scared of it. I am petrified of it to be honest of you.”

Not being prepared is the only thing that scares Davis about his job.

Then, the live shows starts and nothing can prepare someone for that more than previous practice. Davis said one can practice in front of a mirror or in the corner of a basketball stadium doing play-by-play on his or her own, but whether it’s the adrenaline or the fact that people are counting on you, there is something different about doing actual reps for broadcast that people are going to see.

“I can’t even tell you why – I wish I could but I don’t know what the answer is – but there is no substitute for the real, live thing,” Davis said.

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