Canadian Sports Broadcaster Basks in American Success
Shulman’s special talent for play-by-play announcing is much more recognized south of the 49, however, due to his knack for calling baseball and basketball games. In fact his efforts were enough for Sports Illustrated to grant him the award for announcer of the decade.
Shulman remains modest in his success, considering himself a hard worker who doesn’t get caught up in his achievements.
“I say this to a lot of people, ‘this is not who I am, it’s what I do for a living,’” Shulman said in front of a class full of students last Wednesday at Scarborough’s Centennial College.
Just a day after TSN announced Shulman will be a regular contributor in Canada, Shulman drove down from his home in Vaughan, Ontario, to be interviewed by students in the journalism program.
Students eager to be Canada’s next great broadcaster learned that the job isn’t always about meeting professional athletes and traveling city to city.
“The best part of my job is, you know, walking into a game at Duke when Duke’s playing North Carolina and five minutes before the tipoff the crowd’s going nuts, and you know there are 3 million people at home waiting to watch that game, that’s when I get excited,” Shulman said enthusiastically.
An experience like that is something many Canadians haven’t had, which is what differentiates Shulman from Canada’s other great broadcasters. Whereas the most renowned broadcasters in Canada cover hockey, Shulman has always been attracted to baseball and basketball.
Shulman sees a major difference in working in America compared to his home country, noting the passion American’s share for sports other than hockey.
“I think the biggest difference is, the way Canadians feel about hockey is the way Americans feel about everything,” Shulman said.
“Especially college sports, we just cannot relate up here to what college sports are like down there. If you’re a football fan, if you go to a Nebraska game, the party starts Friday and ends Sunday. It’s an event.”
Shulman first called college basketball games for ESPN back in 2001, often working alongside NCAA greats such as Dick Vitale and Len Elmore along the way.
America’s passion for college sports wasn’t the only difference it seemed, as Shulman encountered some more humorous difficulties.
“When I first went down there full time, somebody looked at me with a very serious look on their face and they said, ‘so how did you learn to talk like us?’ They keep expecting this enormous Canadian accent. Canadians are endlessly amusing to them,” Shulman joked, as the class of aspiring journalists shared his laughter.
Shulman’s future was never shaped to follow the career path of a broadcaster, only working on radio for extra-curricular credit while studying actuarial science at the University of Western Ontario.
Six months of working as an actuary wasn’t enough to convince him that radio wasn’t more gratifying. Shulman would later work for the Fan 1430 (now Fan 590) where his career would blossom.
“I never wanted to get into television, or I never planned on getting into television. I started with radio, I never thought I’d go to the United States. So you can never say never,” Shulman said, clearly having watched Justin Bieber’s new hit flick.
With Shulman charging his way through the broadcasting ranks in the early nineties, his passion for basketball and baseball quickly helped him to create his own niche.
Shulman credits himself as a former major hockey fan, but his basketball skills and love for baseball’s statistics are what helped him grow. However, when you live in Canada, escaping hockey is near impossible.
Sons Matthew and Ben have both played in the Greater Toronto Hockey League, forcing Shulman to become Canada`s typical hockey Dad.
“I [yelled] once at an opposing player on the team for hitting my son from behind into the boards which I never ever ever should have done,” Shulman said.
“You get into it, I’m a dad and I played sports as a kid, and I’m competitive. Once you’re done playing sports you kind of live through your kids a little bit. I get caught up.”
The only difference between Shulman and other hockey Dads across the GTA is that Shulman’s voice billows throughout the arena.
Shulman learned from his Dad perhaps how to support his kids, who watches every game that his son broadcasts. Whether it’s his kids, or his kid’s friends, Shulman always relishes knowing someone in Canada is watching him.
“I’m born in Canada, raised in Canada, live in Canada. Even though I work in the United States, I like knowing that family and friends back home can see the games,” Shulman said.
Even though Shulman’s accomplishments are more recognizable by American fans of traditional American sports, they will forever be remembered by friends, family, and record books.
By: Kyle Larkin