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  • TV Experts Urge Changes In Track

    IAAF had a big seminar in Athens last weekend regarding track & TV. Good account of some of the action on sportscal.com, which is a subscription service so I can only excerpt some small bits here. One of the prime speakers was NBC's Peter Diamond, Senior Vice-President of Olympic programming (and longtime T&FN correspondent). Among things he said:

    <<.....Diamond said that athletics' 'primary problem' is the length of most
    athletics meetings: usually at least four hours, compared with two and a
    half hours for American football, basketball or ice hockey matches.

    He said: 'Nobody has that kind of time, or attention span. You might
    suggest that spectators show up late, or that television starts its
    coverage late. But what kind of sport has events it doesn't want people to
    see?'......

    Diamond also argued that the presentation of athletics needs to be
    simplified, saying: 'I've always had the feeling the sport has been
    developed and presented by people with an expert mentality, and that it
    takes a semi-expert to watch it. The amount of activity on the field is
    dazzling - too dazzling in fact.'

    Diamond advocated fewer finalists and fewer attempts at a height or
    distance in field events, an end to track and field events being scheduled
    concurrently, 'lines and coloured landing sectors' that enable spectators
    and viewers to judge for themselves the success of a throw or jump, and
    distinctive national team uniforms to enable them to identify athletes....>>

  • #2
    Re: TV Experts Urge Changes In Track

    It amazes me that Olympic programming is always looked at as needing to attract fans from outside the core audience. No other business on earth bases their marketing/business plan on doing this as a primary obejective and succeeds in doing it. All of these so-called experts are imbeciles with the stats to back up their idiocy.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: TV Experts Urge Changes In Track

      I think MJR is right. This goes back to our constant harping at LR and his attempts to "explain" the sport to the uninitiated. They don't watch it, we do and we don't need to be patronized.
      "A beautiful theory killed by an ugly fact."
      by Thomas Henry Huxley

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: TV Experts Urge Changes In Track

        "Diamond advocated fewer finalists and fewer attempts at a height or distance in field events, an end to track and field events being scheduled concurrently, 'lines and coloured landing sectors' that enable spectators and viewers to judge for themselves the success of a throw or jump, and distinctive national team uniforms to enable them to identify athletes"

        Does Olympic track have a problem with TV viewership numbers? Beyond that, major commercial meets (eg Golden League) already compress their schedule with fewer events and limited numbers of athletes. They also aren't an applicable forum for "distinctive national team uniforms" (although distinctive uniforms of some kind would be nice instead of generic Nike or adidas).

        Lines or coloured markings might be a useful tool though in field events for the same segment of the spectating public who required Fox to make the hockey pucks glow.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: TV Experts Urge Changes In Track

          <<.....Diamond said that athletics'
          >'primary problem' is the length of most
          athletics meetings: usually at least
          >four hours, compared with two and a
          half hours for American football,
          >basketball or ice hockey matches.>

          My immediate reaction is that he needs to tune in Sunday afternoons to an NFL game to get an accurate read on how long they take.

          <He said: 'Nobody has that kind of time, or
          >attention span. You might
          suggest that spectators show up late, or that
          >television starts its
          coverage late. But what kind of sport has events it
          >doesn't want people to
          see?'......>

          He may have a point here.

          Diamond also argued that the
          >presentation of athletics needs to be
          simplified, saying: 'I've always had the
          >feeling the sport has been
          developed and presented by people with an expert
          >mentality, and that it
          takes a semi-expert to watch it. The amount of
          >activity on the field is
          dazzling - too dazzling in fact.'>

          Maybe. How many casual track fans are there?

          Diamond
          >advocated fewer finalists and fewer attempts at a height or
          distance in field
          >events, an end to track and field events being scheduled
          concurrently, 'lines
          >and coloured landing sectors' that enable spectators
          and viewers to judge for
          >themselves the success of a throw or jump, and
          distinctive national team
          >uniforms to enable them to identify athletes....>>

          I strongly agree with the uni thing. Even as a major fan I have trouble picking out who's who.

          Steve S.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: TV Experts Urge Changes In Track

            I agree with MJR and Pego, above. The danger is that the sport will be "improved" right out of existence. The real problem with TV is live coverage--no one needs or wants to see false starts, failed jumps (or at least EVERY failed jump), etc. A big event seen live will inevitably have lots of dead time that won't be in a taped and edited version. Athens would actually seem to present the perfect opportunity for a judiciously taped show--the networks would have at least 6 hours to boil it all down into a user-friendly package. What we miss, of course, is the excitement of seeing the event before we read the result: I just don't see any other option, however. I would resist to the death any change in the events themselves--such as fewer attempts, etc. To tinker with the actual events in the hopes of attracting casual or ignorant fans would be a recipe for disaster.

            I would add that the Golden League formula is actually very sensible: all the "good stuff" boiled down to ca. 4 hours. No meaningless heats or preliminary rounds. All the action you see really MATTERS, which we certainly can't say about 8 or 10 day long championship meets...

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: TV Experts Urge Changes In Track

              Part of what makes baseball exciting to watch is every ball and strike the pitcher throws the batter. Some 3-2 counts take forever to negotiate, as the balls are whacked foul behind the backstop or down the foul line on a number of consecutive pitches. I haven t complained with American baseball taking 2.30 to 3.00 hours per match, because within that time there were 200+ pitches thrown - of which some were hit, fouled, missed and others lost in the stands. All-in-all, I get a good game between two pitchers throwing to a minimum of 54 batters.

              My point is this: Sometimes the fans need to see missed attempts (i.e.: the strikeouts and errors). Sometimes those lead up to something bigger later in the match. With athletics, I wouldn t trade in the experience of watching Klüft miss two-straight long jump attempts in Paris last summer before nailing her 3rd - and final - attempt. What better made-for-tv drama than her first two misses - with a gold medal on the line? Granted, not every miss or foul is going to make - or break - a tv track meet experience for the casual fan. On the flip side, I hate seeing batters take forever getting adjusted outside of the box, and I can relate that to false starts... viewers just want the event to get on already.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: TV Experts Urge Changes In Track

                "IAAF had a big seminar in Athens last weekend regarding track & TV."
                ------
                Actually last weekend (Saturday and Sunday, March 27-28) was the IAAF Council meeting. News of its first day is on the IAAF website at: http://www.iaaf.org/news/Kind=512/newsId=24669.html

                The Track/TV seminar is Monday and Tuesday, March 29-30. Schedule details (speakers and topics) can be seen at:
                http://www.iaaf.org/tvseminar/index.html

                Some reporting of the seminar could be expected later on the IAAF website. But rich detail may await a print publication of the proceedings.

                Example: "Commercialization in Sport and the Olympic Movement" a 1992 session at "Ancient Olympia" was detailed in a 269-page paperback that I purchased from IOC headquarters at Lausanne while using its library for research in 1995.

                A related note: The IAAF TV seminar, ending today. is without some of the excellent academic researchers whose findings about TV and sports have for many years been illuminating.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: TV Experts Urge Changes In Track

                  I'm all for colored lines, even in the LJ/TJ pits - anything to make the visual presentation more effective, exciting, etc. Same with uniforms and ANYTHING except tinkering with the actual events. We CAN and should be able to package a meet into a 2-hour slot, with other stuff (i.e. prelims, etc.) before that. But do NOT change how an event is run - that changes the actual nature of track, which has been and will continue to be fine as competition. We run HS mini-meets which only have half the events, then later in the week we run the other half. Makes for 3 hour meets vs. the interminable ones we usually run. We need progress in presentation, not the events themselves.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: TV Experts Urge Changes In Track

                    I'd agree to reduce the athletes qualifying in the field events from 12 to 8 to match the number of athletes in the finals of the shorter track events. For the qualifiers, after the 3rd round, you could cut the field from 8 to 4. That way, you could even hold the entire last round of a field event between track events and spotlight it.

                    I'd also agree to replace the 10,000 on the track with a cross country or roadrace event between the 10-K and Marathon distances.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: TV Experts Urge Changes In Track

                      "My point is this: Sometimes the fans need to see missed attempts (i.e.: the strikeouts and errors). Sometimes those lead up to something bigger later in the match."

                      Of course, who wouldn't agree? But the key word here is "sometimes." TV editing lets us see the few of these that matter, instead of the many that don't. It all comes down to a question of WHO it is that makes the editing/packaging decisions--is it someone who really knows the sport, or someone who doesn't?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: TV Experts Urge Changes In Track

                        We need TrackTV, by TrackNuts for TrackNuts!

                        Lemme hear ya - "I want my TrackTV!"

                        Anyone have Bill Cosby's phone number??

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: TV Experts Urge Changes In Track

                          I agree. Let's think thru the economics of this. How many of us are there who--say--would pay $20 a month for this? How many would pay $40 a month?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: TV Experts Urge Changes In Track

                            With all field events and some track, there is a vast potential for post race/jump/vault/throw graphical analysis. More material for super-imposed graphical slow motion/real time analysis than any other sport I would say.

                            Imagine a complete onscreen graphical analysis of a long jump, run up speed, angle of attack, maximum height reached, hang-time data. Inter and intra long jumper comparison during competition. Lots for the knowledgeable TV commentator to comment on.

                            With optimum camera angle and descent slow motions anyone interested in sport of any kind (or any mere mortal) would find an 8m plus long jump fascinating, especially with good graphical analysis.

                            When I watch coverage of long/tripple jump competition nowadays, if they even bother to show the events, they are filmed from the end of the pit. It's a longjump not a high jump I want to see the how long jump is.

                            The jumps and for example the hammer are extremley dynamic events, this should be and could be easily brought out, if done properly.

                            The BBC used have some excellent commentators and good coverage. They would show almost all rounds, all athletes, allied with good technical comment. Nowadays they just show the Brit or the well known competitor, lingering close ups!, it is much more about the personality and less about what he or she is doing!

                            Also imagine replays on the 100m with 10m splits etc, etc the list is endless that would be exiting. Cricket on C4 has great computer analysis which definately increases the interest!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: TV Experts Urge Changes In Track

                              >I agree. Let's think thru the economics of this. How many of us are there
                              >who--say--would pay $20 a month for this? How many would pay $40 a month?>>

                              The sad economics of this are--I fear--that if every T&FN subscriber were willing to pay $20 a month and was able to sign up 10 friends to do the same that still wouldn't remotely be enough caish to make Track TV work. The numbers we can bring to the big-time TV table are woefully short.

                              Sorry to sound like a traitor to the cause but we've got to accept the fact that we're now a niche sport. And somehow make the best of it.

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