Jake Tuber (COL ’09) is not just any Georgetown basketball fan. Instead of simply watching game coverage on ESPN from his couch in Village C West, where he serves as an R.A., he contributes to the coverage as a commentator. Tuber, a senior and a philosophy major, works for the sports information department doing freelance work as well as making public addresses for various sporting events.
So you commentate for Georgetown basketball games on ESPN. How did you get that job?
It started last fall – the fall of my junior year – in October 2007. I won the ESPNU contest that they sponsored at Midnight Madness here [at Georgetown] to get that opportunity first, and to get involved with production for ESPN. Since then they’ve been really great about getting me involved in a variety of other ways. More recently I did a piece for ESPN involving some Georgetown history during a basketball game.
When did you begin commentating? Is it something you’ve always been interested in?
When I was a high school student, I once commentated [on] a local recreation basketball league championship game for a local television station. I don’t think the game ever aired, and I’m quite happy about it because it was pretty awful.
What is your favorite part of commentating?
y favorite part is the fact that it combines my love of public speaking with my enthusiasm for sports, which I can then share with the rest of the world. I love being able to help viewers enjoy a broadcast in a way that I always feel, as a viewer, is crucial to appreciating what is going on on the floor.
What would you say is the most difficult part of commentating?
For me, [the most difficult part is] definitely understanding that it’s good sometimes not to talk. I have trouble shutting up. It’s important knowing when to let the game speak for itself. It’s a tough balance, but I’d also say, having done some different types of broadcasting for ESPN, it’s very clear to me that while the broadcast looks very clear and simple, it’s really very complicated. There are a variety of things going on that are behind the scenes that are really impressive once you get to see them up close, and it really makes you appreciate how talented these people are at what they do.
What has been the most exciting game you’ve covered?
Probably the Georgetown game against St. John’s in February 2008. We wound up winning, but St. John’s was a young, growing team at the time and showed they were willing to put up a fight and force us to really play our game.
How much experience did you have with broadcast journalism before starting with ESPN?
I had as little experience as you could possibly have. I would describe myself as an avid watcher of sports.
Do you know the players on the Georgetown basketball team?
I’ve met all the guys on the team, but I would say that personally, I only know some of them quite well.
What are your predictions for the rest of the season? Will the Hoyas do well?
I think the Hoyas will continue to grow as the season goes on. And I think given the difficulty of the Big East conference this year, we may not have a great seed in the NCAA tournament, but we’ll be very battle-tested and hungry to avenge what happened last year. We have enough talent to play with any team in the country, so I think we’ll actually do pretty well in the NCAA Tournament. I know the guys on the team have been working really hard to figure out every aspect of what isn’t working right now. I know the players on the team have diligence and resilience that will definitely serve them well, come the tournament.
What do you plan to do once you graduate?
Right now one of the things that I’m really trying to get involved with is sports commentary on the professional level. But I also have a variety of different loves in the entertainment world, including stand-up comedy and screenwriting, which are hobbies of mine now, and I hope to do them professionally as well.
Do you see yourself continuing with broadcast journalism?
Yes. I think that in the world of journalism, for me it will always come down to sportscasting. I was never particularly infatuated with the news or current-events-related journalism, but I’ve always had a particular affinity for sports, and I think that if I were to continue with journalism in any way, it would without a question be sports-related.
Who is your favorite sportscaster? Is there anyone in particular you look up to as you begin to build your career?
I think my favorite sportscaster, though he doesn’t do exactly what I want to do, has to be Charles Barkley. I can’t go three minutes without cracking up while watching him on television. But in terms of role models – Lou Canellis. I met Lou at Midnight Madness last fall through my ESPN debut, and we also covered the Georgetown versus St. John’s game together, and we’ve been in close contact since then. We talk on a weekly basis, and he’s been really instrumental in helping me try to figure out how to pursue this professionally. He’s really gone out of his way to take me under his wing and teach me as much as he can. He’s an incredibly helpful guy, and, given his prominence in the sports world and just generally the entertainment world, being one of the major faces of Chicago entertainment, it’s been great how passionate he is about helping me to continue down this path.
I’ve also had some great conversations with a variety of people in the sports world that have been incredibly encouraging. Bill Raftery, Dick Vitale, Doris Burke, Mike Patrick, Mark Adams and countless individuals who kind of work behind the scenes for ESPN who have all been incredibly warm, kind and helpful to someone they’ve only recently met and really has no idea what he’s doing out there.