|image courtesy of abclocal.go.com|
Today’s run (treadmill): 4.25 miles
Last year, NBC surprised me by actually covering the NYC Half Marathon. Running is so invisible on television that I’m thrilled whenever it is shown. Still, I was critical of the 2012 broadcast because the NBC folks failed to make the event interesting for viewers. It so happened that both the men and women’s races featured two runners fighting it out for the win, while the rest of the field followed far behind. NBC had a chance to cover the experience of fifteen thousand people, but it barely covered four.
This year, it was the local ABC affiliate that covered the race. I was hoping that, this time, the focus would be on the event, not just the lead runners. Unfortunately, channel 7’s execution was just as disappointing as last year’s. Races like the NYC Half are rare, because they are both a spectator event and a shared experience. If there were 15K people on the course, there were undoubtedly more than 100K friends and relatives looking for them during the race. Not only were 99.99% of participants ignored, the elite runners who finished second and third were barely acknowledged.
I thought about the race as I ran my distance on the treadmill this morning. With so many knowledgeable people writing for running magazines, websites and blogs, the opportunity to hire compelling broadcasters is there. Think about the level of detail and background that’s provided by qualified announcers for every MLB, NBA and NFL game. Today’s race announcers were so inept, they didn’t even know the names of the two elite women who were bearing down on eventual winner Caroline Rotich as they approached the finish line.
Running will never gain traction on television unless the networks commit to treating the sport like an event, instead of a news story. People won’t tune in if the coverage is dull and the focus is so narrow that they’d be better off skipping the broadcast and waiting for the recap to be published. If channel 7 had given me the mic this morning, I would have done it a whole lot differently.