Track and field coverage has started. Let the outrage begin.

I just watched eight minutes of the women’s 10,000m final: The first five minutes and the final three minutes. NBC cut out over 20 minutes of the race for commercials and shotput. And now, I’m watching coverage of the men’s racewalking event, to which NBC is devoting more broadcast time. That’s right: racewalking.

What the hell is wrong with NBC? Can even the most dedicated T&F fan name one champion racewalker?

Since I didn’t actually get to see the 10,000m event, I have no idea what happened between minute 6 and minute 30. I couldn’t even tell if runners like Goucher, Kiplagat, Wangui and Smith were still running, or where anyone was in terms of laps by the time they cut back to the race.

This really steams my rice. I’m dreading the marathon coverage; we’ll probably get 10 minutes tops.

Here’s what’s wrong with most coverage of middle and long distance track and field events: The emphasis is always on the finish. Broadcasters don’t understand that the real drama is oftentimes not played out exclusively (if at all) at the end; it happens sometime earlier in the race, often much earlier. It’s bad enough that broadcasters are obsessed with sprint events, willing to show every 10 minute delay due to false starts. But to make things worse, they apply the same sensibility to the longer events, calling them like horse races and failing to present the whole story from a wider perspective.

If anyone knows of a video feed that shows the entire event (and other Olympic running events, for that matter), please comment.

Grr.

Anyway, I’m glad Flanagan won the Bronze. She’s in good (and extremely limited) company with the great Lynn Jennings. And, like Tirunesh Dibaba, she’s only getting faster. Maybe I need to get food poisoning more often.

4 Responses

  1. I didn’t watch the 10K, but I was trying to figure out what was going to happen tonight with the marathon in terms of coverage. If they’re just going to show a few minutes, I don’t know if it’s worth staying in to watch.

  2. I totally agree with you. I have never understand why it is important to show a highjumper standing and concentrating for 40 seconds and then do a unsuccessful jump, after that 3 slow-motion wievs of the same unsuccessful jump…while the 1500m-runners are in the middle of their race! I live in Scandinavia and when we are watching the GP competitions there is ALWAYS news and weatherforecast-brake when the 5000m is starting. Then we get the final lap afterwards.

    I have realized that i cannot watch track&field on tv anymore, it's not a good thing for my mental health and blood-pressure!

    StefanH

  3. Absolutely agreed. The longer t&f events are among the FEW summer Olympics events that a substantial number of adults can identify with and understand completely. Cycling is another.

    Whyowhyowhy can't we see more of them? Beach volleyball? We get to watch every damn match, almost every point. God forbid we miss the pretty boys on the rings in men's gymnastics. Why can't I watch people RUN?

    Aaargh.

  4. well the bbc is one consolation for the weather in good old blighty at least…. :)

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