CHARLESTON, W.Va. — High school basketball fans could hear a change at games this season after the National Federation of State High School Associations set stricter guidelines for public address announcers.
The NFSH, of which the West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission is a member, has banned PA announcers from saying things such as the number of points scored by a player, the type of foul or violation and the “emphatic” announcement of who scored a basket.
Emphasizing the new emphasis aims to promote sportsmanship, the NFSH wrote the PA announcer’s role does not include “cheering the home team on” or otherwise inciting the crowd.
“Evidently there are problems across the country in some areas where PA announcers are not taking care of responsibilities they’re supposed to take care of and going beyond that,” said Gary Ray, executive director of the WVSSAC.
WVOW’s Speedy Bevins, who serves as a broadcaster for MetroNews Sports, said he understands the new guidelines in light of some PA announcers taking a play-by-play approach or showing favoritism.
“Over the years, it became more of making the announcement with an emotional emphasis,” Bevins said. “For years (previously) the public address announcers were, ‘This is who scored it and this is who the foul was on.’ There was very little emotion brought into that.”
Having broadcast games across the state, Bevins doesn’t see the problem as being prevalent in West Virginia.
“My initial impression is that, probably, a lot of good public address announcers at high school events are being penalized for the overreaction of probably a few,” he said.
As for the WVSSAC, Ray said the change is needed. “If a (PA) announcer announces a 3-pointer and it’s not a 3, it really creates an issue for the official and the teams involved.”
Bevins predicted this coming season might be a challenge for some PA announcers.
“I’m sure there’s going to be points during the game to where habit is ‘the charging call is on this person’ or ‘3-point basket by so and so.’ It’s going to be a process to try and work toward following these guidelines.”