Amy Bowers TV Talk

"The Goalie's Anxiety at the Penalty Kick"

I should rent the movie with the provocative title, The Goalie's Anxiety at the Penalty Kick, because I love the concept of the Goaltender poised for a shot-on-goal.

I was reminded of the goalie's anxiety when my friend Holly Sweet phoned while packing her audio gear for Montana, where she would be working the wildfires for CBS News. She wanted advice on shoes, and any advice in general about preparing for a fire assignment. We discussed shoes, batteries, water, chapstick and bandanas. We considered the dangers of helicopters, the speed of fires, and whether anybody looks good in yellow and green Nomex (a fire retardant material).

I started thinking about the different anxieties I've had while preparing for tv news assignments. Once I was trained to do my job, I never really worried about my shooting or producing skills. I'm very competitive, and confident that even on my worse day, I'll deliver. But over the years, I've had other worries while packing for the job.

There are the physical challenges: Will I be able to climb a mountain with my gear? Will I endure the smoke (or the heat, or the cold, depending). Will I be able to wear my contact lenses for the first thirty hours?

There are logistics: Will I find the location, how will I make my deadline? How late can the uplink truck be, before I start worrying? How late can it be before I alert someone in New York or Washington or LA to start worrying? Will I get stuck in traffic if I take the Big I? (or: the Big Dig, or whatever big roadache is out there).

In the winter of 1997, on the way home from an assignment I fell asleep behind the wheel. After that, I worried: Will I be able to stay awake while I drive? This anxiety bothered me for two years. Eventually I felt really sleepy one morning, driving home from a live shot. I pulled over and slept for five or ten minutes. Then I woke up and drove home. I've never worried about it since.

I don't worry about finding a parking space or a bathroom. I took care of that in the seventies, by spending $300 on a program called "est." It was a self-realization seminar that allowed its captives to discover the greatness of their bladders. If you missed est, you can still study great parking techniques by catching a re-run of "Kojak." He was a master at what est called "creating a space."

On my first science assignment as a field producer, I didn't know whether I'd have the background to understand the story. That was an unnecessary worry. If I don't understand it, the scientist needs to explain it again. End of that problem.

Well, all that really leaves is: Will I run out of clothes. My theory on that one is: pack lots of panties, and the rest will take care of itself.

I called Holly today, to see how the fires went. She said that the first day of her nine-day assignment was the hardest, and that she lived in fear of being "the one" who would "crater out." (slang for being unable to continue). In fact, she survived the climbs and some dangerous moments and never quit.

It seems to me that women are motivated by the fear of failure, and men are inspired by the desire for bragging rights. If this is so, I suppose that as long as I work in tv news, I'll be like the goalie at the penalty kick: ready, but somewhat anxious.

I'd like to hear from any goalies out there: Do you ever experience the newspuke's anxiety at the starting block?

Amy Bowers

Read Amy Bowers previous columns
in our Columns Index. You can also
email Amy at
Click here to join our Mailing List
for monthly updates.