The sports broadcasting industry has maintained itself by providing thirsty sports fans with the information they seek to quench it. As the industry evolves, fans want more than just water to attack their thirst; they want something with a little more flavour.
Tim Micallef is at the forefront of Canadian broadcasters who are supplying their audience with Gatorade to give them that extra kick. The co-anchor of The Score Tonight is a true Canadian success story. He debuted at The Score as an intern and has ascended to the role of prime time anchor.
BBM recently spoke with Tim and found out who’s shoes he’d most like to fill and that he misses the days when the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels were running March Madness.
BBM: Can you ball?
Tim Micallef: Not anymore, how ‘bout them apples? I played high school ball until grade 12, but I was behind what turned out to be two All-Canadian point guards and decided you know what, maybe I should hang them ball shoes up and play hockey instead.
BBM: Do you come up with some of the lines you use before you need them on the show?
TM: It’s weird the way they pop to you. Me personally, I guess most of them (come to me) in the car and then I just imagine the situations, or if I’m watching a movie or something and I like the line. I just saw Wedding Crashers and that Will Ferrell line where he says, “Mom, the meatloaf!” And I’m just thinking how I can work that into some sort of line. They come to you at so many different times…I get most of them in the car.
BBM: Have you always wanted to work in the sports industry?
TM: Ever since I realized I wasn’t a good enough athlete. I’m the youngest of four boys and we all played different sports. I kind of was the jack-of-all-trades, master of none; but I was blessed with enough knowledge to know that I stunk. I was always a smart player, but just didn’t have the athletic ability. So I guess it was around grade 11, grade 12 where I figured the forever 40 (yard dash) and the five inch vertical weren’t going to do me any good. So I figured how else can I stay close? And this was it.
BBM: You’ve worked as a producer, reporter, play-by-play man and as an anchor, do you prefer one job to the others?
TM: I enjoy doing a little bit of everything. As an anchor out there, sometimes you have to put your reputation into other people’s hands. I like the idea of controlling your own destiny as a producer, but there’s nothing like the rush of being on air and being live.
BBM: Have you ever gotten a chance to meet any of your favorite sports broadcasters?
TM: I’ve never met any of the guys on my list (Check Tim’s bio at thescore.ca to see his list). It’s kind of weird, I’ve been to the Super Bowl, the NBA All-Star game and I’ve never come across the guys that I (admire most). I feel like I’m just stealing people for my personality. The guys that I liked, I just kind of took a little bit off each one of them, and I’ve never gotten to meet any of them.
BBM: Of all the guys you look up to, is there one or two that you look at as being the most influential on the air?
TM: There are little pieces of everybody. I guess (Chris) Burman taught me to have fun with it. It’s not rocket science; it’s not brain surgery. The way the sports industry is today, by the time you see the highlights; you probably know the score already. It’s changed so much. I’m not nearly as wacky when I do play-by-play. You’re secondary to the game. You’re just there to compliment the game. The game is the main focus, so I try not to take away from (it) when I do play-by-play.
BBM: How do you feel you got your big break?
TM: I started as kind of the basketball guy and I don’t know about any other person in Canada that has used basketball as a stepping-stone to get to a prime time desk job. I think my versatility and love for basketball helped me get there because the guys at The Score were like; “Oh, there are people that like basketball.” Just looking across Canada, I don’t think there’s another person who has used basketball like that. In Canada, the NHL will always be king, but I think that sports stations don’t recognize enough right now that basketball is growing and that there are kids that grew up idolizing basketball players.
BBM: If you were in charge of all the programming on The Score for one day, what would be on the Tim Micallef Network?
TM: I’d give the people what they want. I think that’s the thing that’s lost in sports television in Canada, is that you have to listen to what the people want. I think we do a good job of that at The Score, but at the same time to quote Wu-Tang, “Cash rules everything around me, C.R.E.A.M. get the money, dolla dolla bill y’all.” So I mean, hockey just seems to bring in more money, but I think I would love to see what the people want and I think that’s what we do a good job of right now.
BBM: Is there an event you haven’t been to yet, that you would really love to go to?
TM: The Olympics. I remember when Toronto was making the bid for the Olympics and I thought how cool that would be to broadcast the Olympics, and more specifically, the basketball competition from my hometown. I thought that would be my ultimate goal.
BBM: If you could replace one athlete and be in their shoes, whose shoes would you fill?
TM: I think it would be fun to be Steve Nash right about now, spoon-feeding Amare. Although I might want to be single. Shaq Daddy in Miami. The king of Miami would be okay right about now. Maybe it’s Shaq. The most dominant player in the NBA, (and) the king of Miami.
BBM: If you could go back in time and see any game, what game would you go to?
TM: If you made me pick just one, I’d probably go insane. That’s the beauty of what we do, is we get to re-live these moments over and over and over again. I live for those classic moments. If I could go back, I would make Larry Johnson take the two pointer against Duke (In the 1991 Final Four) instead of kickin’ it out to Anderson Hunt for three. The UNLV Runnin’ Rebels, that was my team. Those were my boys.
BBM: Do you find since you’ve started working in the sports industry that your perception of it has changed at all?
TM: A little bit. First off, I’m always cheering for the better game; I don’t care who wins anymore. I want the more intriguing game, the more interesting game. You get to know some of the players. You kind of lose that fan in you a little bit, because you’re cheering for a more interesting outcome. I still live for those few things that can capture me the way I used to be captured as a fan.
BBM: What do you like to do outside of work?
TM: I like to chill with my boys. I’m getting to the age where I’m slowing down on the club scene. Once you start losing your hair, the club scene starts losing a bit of its appeal to you. I like to play a lot of poker with my boys.