Doug Logan, CEO of USATF, posted a nice little article on his blog about the need for track and field to do a better job of capturing what he calls "the moment" at its events, both live and on TV. I couldn't agree more, as I wrote previously in my article Ten TV Tips for Track last year. Logan's article doesn't go into much detail, but it does address the issue, which is an important first step.
The best thing about the article was probably the comments from the many readers. He received numerous great suggestions and they provided a level of specificity that his more generic post didn't attempt to reach. In my latest article, Capturing "The Moment", I took the entire thing as an opportunity to rank/sort the ideas and provide my suggestions for what should be incorporated into TV broadcasts sooner rather than later.
Here's a snippet:
[Logan] defines a "moment" as "that point in the contest that you experience a catch in your breath, a pure emotional reaction, a feeling you are blessed to be there to bear witness, or, in the case of a television viewer, a regret that you weren't there." That's the same thing I felt was lacking when I wrote that there were no "bona fide scream-out-loud-while-you-watch-your-TV moments" in track and field.
Of course, capturing "the moment" at a football game is much easier than doing so at a track meet. In most sports, you essentially follow the ball. I'd bet that 90% of "moments" in sports occur within a close proximity to the ball. Track is like a three-ring circus, though. If you're watching the track, it's hard to follow the jumps and throws, and vice versa. That's part of what makes it great. But capturing that for a live audience, let alone a television audience, is no easy task.
But that's not to say it can't be done. Scott Davis, longtime announcer at the Mt. SAC invitational and UCLA home meets has an uncanny knack for making every event at a track meet feel like the most important event of the year. And while it might just be their accents, I feel like British commentators elevate the quality of a TV broadcast the way Americans don't.
I thought I'd sift through them and rank order them based on my own personal prioritization. Not all will directly lead to capturing "the moment", but they'll improve the broadcasts as a whole. On that note, Logan mentions that "how much [money] we can and should commit is under consideration." Hopefully this article (and any comments our great readers provide) will assist to that end.
The Top TV Broadcast Improvements as Suggested by USATF Commenters
1. Split-screens (by Alan)
My #1 wish. I've been arguing for this forever. The technology has been around for ages (hello 1960s), and with today's HD 3D 1080p uber-TVs, the small screen would probably be bigger and clearer than the TV I grew up with. Let's just get this done already.
2. Real-time leaderboard results and splits/paces (by Brad):
I've written often about my desire for real-time results and splits. The ability to translate those into paces is a great idea, too.
The real-time leaderboard could be a huge value-add, too. Right now I'm picturing a little sidebar that pops out on the right of the screen that provides updates on every event. It can be 400m splits in the case of a running event, or an update on rankings based on each round of a field event. It could be a ticker that never leaves, or it could come out every 10 minutes or so with updates. It might not capture any "moments", but it certainly would help keep fans in the loop on what's going on.
Click here to read my comments on the rest of the great ideas suggested to Doug Logan by many fans. And feel free to add your ideas, too!