Life settles down for producer of ESPN basketball and NHRA

ESPN Producer Eric Swaringer during the 45th annual Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals. (Allen Kee / ESPN Images)
ESPN Producer Eric Swaringen and Bruce Watson (L) during the 45th annual Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals. (Allen Kee / ESPN Images)

After a few weeks of craziness, things are starting to settle down for Eric Swaringen.

Swaringen, who produces ESPN’s coverage of NHRA drag racing as well as college basketball games, has just finished the time of year when basketball overlaps with the first month of the NHRA season.

For a TV producer, working two vastly different sports at the same time requires planning and preparation.

Eric Swaringer (Allen Kee/ESPN Images)
Eric Swaringer (Allen Kee/ESPN Images)

“The biggest challenge is that you constantly have to look ahead,” said Swaringen, who has worked on ESPN productions since 1989. “You can’t just show up at a site and be ready and prepared to do your job.

“If it’s a basketball game, you’ve got to do all the research for the two different teams,” he said. “I’ll try to do my research at least a week in advance, to try to get ahold of production assistants to find video for what we want to talk about, and you’re always trying to find new and different stories.

“And all the while, NHRA is starting up, so I’m trying to balance the beginning of a new season, because then we always have new graphics, new video elements, new packages, and things that we want to work in, so it gets to be pretty hectic.”

During the overlap periods, which last about a month at both the beginning and end of the NHRA season, he’s usually home one or sometimes two nights a week.

“Luckily in this day and age with cell phones, I can be looking up storylines on the phone while I’m doing other things, like laundry,” he said.

While he often works with different crew members for the basketball games, which are usually one-day events, he has consistency with the NHRA events, which involve three days at the track.

“We have 45-50 of the same crew members that go to every single race,” he said. “They’ve been doing it for years, they know the drill, they’re passionate about the sport, and they love their job.

“It’s a long weekend with more hours and you rarely get out of the truck,” he said. “But you know everything’s going to be where it needs to be, and everybody’s going to do the job that they need to do.”

ESPN2 and ESPN3 will air coverage of the NHRA event in Las Vegas this weekend.

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