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Saturday, February 16, 2008

A Disturbing Trend

I couldn't wait two days to find out what happened at the Tyson Invitational and peeked online. This will make tomorrow's TV viewing somewhat less interesting.

Come to think of it, there hasn't been any live coverage this year save one hour of the Millrose Games. The USATF Indoor Championships will be live, and probably the Penn Relays as well. But I don't expect any other live broadcasts apart from the Olympic Trials and the Olympic Games. Maybe the Prefontaine Classic if we're lucky.

But there's an even worse trend as of this year. Really, the best invitational meets and international championships were never on US TV anyway. A couple of years ago WCSN came online to fill that hole and they did a pretty darn good job. This year's promised meet coverage is as long as your arm.

In the past, most if not all of these meets were streamed live. Not this year, at least through the indoor season. Today's Birmingham (UK) meet is a prime example--the meet is already over, but won't be available to view until tomorrow at 3:00 p.m. EST.

And then there's the question of whether it will be on at all. The Valencia meet never did get shown, and six days later the "Stay tuned for on-demand video" sign is still there. Wednesday's Athens meet is still waiting to be put online as well.

I understand that WCSN is a small-time operation and might not be able to do a lot. But the surest way to ruin a reputation is to make promises you can't keep. So far this year they've shown no reason why a fan should part with their hard-earned dollars. And once you've broken promises...well, why would anyone believe they really will get to see the World Indoor or World XC championships?

Full disclosure: WCSN approached me with an offer of a complimentary 2008 subscription and I wasn't about to turn it down. As you can see, this does not affect my willingness to speak my mind.

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