Nachstehend folgt ein Kommentar des Autors des Buchs „Running with the Keyans“, Adharanand Finn, der den Kern der Sache recht treffend benennt. Die meisten Übertragungen von Marathonläufen außerhalb Japans sind Zumutungen, wobei überwiegend Leute involviert sind, denen der Sachverstand in hohem Maße fehlt. Leider!
Dear President Seb, can you make it one of your first priorities as head of IAAF to improve television coverage of athletics? After staying up into the wee hours to watch the men’s marathon in Beijing last night, I have a few simple suggestions.
Firstly, put people in charge of the live feeds who actually understand the sport. It’s no wonder people say they find marathons boring to watch on television when they’re so badly covered.
In Japan, elite long distance running races are some of the most popular sporting events of the year and while there are many cultural and historical reasons for this, the quality of the TV coverage is also a factor.
Watching a marathon is a little like watching a football or cricket match. For long periods it can meander without much happening, before suddenly there’s a burst of activity, a flurry of excitement. A runner makes a break, it gets covered, or someone fails to react, misses the move and gets dropped. Everything changes in those few seconds.
And it’s for those moments we watch, patiently following the ebb and flow, anticipating the moves, wondering who will make them, and when. This anticipation is part of the viewing experience, just like in football, or cricket.
Yet producers would never cut away from a football match to show what is happening somewhere else, then return to find two goals have been scored, and just carry on as though nothing has happened.
It’s even worse when you’ve stayed up until 3am to watch the race. The groans around the world could be heard across Twitter when we returned from watching one of the heptathlon hurdles heats to find an unknown runner from Lesotho leading the race by 20 seconds. The world record holder, Dennis Kimetto, had disappeared. The lead group of about 50 runners, which we had diligently watched sparring with each other for 90 minutes, without much going on, had suddenly been blown apart. How did that happen?
In Japan, if they miss a crucial moment, they go back and replay it. Really. Like you would a goal. That is the key bit of the action.
One simple device they use in Japan is called the split screen. I know the Japanese have a history of technological innovation, but really, it’s not that hard. You keep footage of the marathon up in one corner of the screen while you switch events, so those of us interested in the marathon can still follow the action. Simple, no?
Hell, you could even use it to show the longer track races when cutting away to field events. Or vice versa. The possibilities are endless.
Instead, last night we were left with the ridiculous scenario where we were looking out for glimpses of the big screen in the stadium, which was showing the marathon to those watching the events live.