Comcast television crew makes the most of Washington Wizards games


Director Chris Grain, foreground, and producer Rich Wolff work inside Comcast SportsNet’s production truck. It takes about 25 people to present a Wizards game; the hub of the effort is the truck parked beneath Verizon Center. (Bob Youngentob)
November 14, 2012

Ispent last Friday night at Verizon Center with one of the best sports teams in Washington. (I’m not referring to the Wizards: They lost again to the Milwaukee Bucks, 101-91.)

I was with the crew from Comcast SportsNet (CSN). They’re the folks who bring Wizards games, and lots of other sporting events, to your television screen.

It takes about 25 people to present a basketball game: announcers, tape operators, people who keep track of points and fouls, sound engineers and the folks who work the 10 cameras all over the arena.

The hub of the operation is the CSN broadcast truck parked underneath Verizon Center. Inside the truck is a room that’s about the size of a kid’s bedroom.

The room is packed with dozens of flat-screen television monitors. About six to eight people work in the truck, filling the room with a lively mix of sports talk and all the directions needed to make television broadcasts happen.

“I got the Ariza stat package if you want it.”

“Show it to me.”

“Replay the Jennings basket.”

“Three . . . two . . . one.”

The producer and the director do most of the talking because they are the bosses in the truck. Rich Wolff, CSN’s Wizards producer, went to Annandale High School. Wolff was a too small to be a star athlete, but he always followed sports and watched the games closely.

His job is to help viewers learn about the interesting stories behind the game, stories such as which players are longtime rivals and whether a star is injured but still playing.

Chris Grain, the director, picks the camera shots to help tell these stories. Grain came to Washington to play football at Howard University, but after a year he dropped football to concentrate on his studies. His older brothers had worked at television stations, so it was natural for Grain to major in radio, television and film.

Wolff and Grain love their work. They say it’s great to be around sports, especially when something special happens — like the nights when Michael Jordan or Gilbert Arenas were scoring big-time for the Wizards.

Of course, they don’t just sit and watch the game. Everyone in the truck is super busy. Grain calls it “organized chaos.” Next time you watch a Wizards game, notice how many times the camera shot changes. Or how many times ads, replays, a trivia contest, statistics or other graphics show up on the screen. The team in the CSN truck is making that happen.

If you like sports and you’re a hard worker, maybe someday you can be part of their team.

Fred Bowen writes the sports opinion column for KidsPost. He is the author 18 sports books for kids. His latest basketball book is “Real Hoops.”

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