The oldest track & field blog on the internet

Friday, July 03, 2009

More TV Tips for Track

As linked in a comment, Bryan Green at the Runner's Tribe wrote up a top-ten list of tips to improve TV track & field coverage. I agree with all points, and have a few to add myself.

Myself, I think a commercial-free broadcast of what goes on the stadium video board along with an audio feed of the PA announcers would be vastly superior to any US track coverage since the 1992 Olympics Triplecast (which, while a financial bust, was apparently great TV).

I'm writing this in between events of the Bislett Games, which Universal Sports is showing using the international feed and a pair of British announcers. They do this right. Part of it is that track is a bigger sport in Europe, but another part is that TV in Europe has no mandate to make a profit, and there's no fear in putting money into a production with the possibility of never getting it back (since they never will anyway).

For the most part, the real difference is that domestic TV coverage does not respect the sport. No one shows field events in complementary camera angles because they don't appreciate the field events. Larry Rawson doesn't need to explain that these guys are jumping over the equivalent of eighty-seven phone books if the camera work is good. Europeans invented the camera-on-a-rail and use other track-level shots (such as a lone cameraman on a segway) in distance races to transmit just how shockingly fast the athletes run for the same reason.

But all of this goes back to my original statement: domestic track is better experienced live than on TV. Sports are better in person because of the atmosphere, but most of them are now better on TV if you really want to pay attention to all the details of what's going on. Track is not. If every other sport has a constant score/time graphic, why don't we get told in visual form how many laps are left or who the current shot put leaders are?

Besides copying the European's tricks, there are a few other things that could be done. Track is often a three- or four- or five-ring circus, and there's no reason there couldn't be split-screen use to show more than one at a time. In team-heavy competitions like the NCAA, SportsCenter-style sidebars and crawls could keep us up-to-date on all the off-track action and how it affects the team scoring. In a perfect world I'd like to steal some NASCAR graphics to let us know who's leading the 400 and 400 hurdles over the first 300 meters.


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Junior said...
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Junior said...

Track and Field should have a bigger television audience here at home. It is a great sport but of course the casual fan will probably only be able to appreciate the shorter races. The field events are interesting and if they are shown they would be popular. Please visit my blog