Monday, January 16, 2012

The Olympic Trials: An Open Letter to NBC

Credit: AP

Dear NBC Sports,

Thank you for broadcasting the Olympic Trials Marathon. I was excited to see the deepest, most talented field of women running for three spots on the Olympic team in a race where at least ten women had a chance. In the men's race, I knew Ryan Hall was the clear favorite, and I was betting on Meb Keflizighi to make them team as well. I had no idea who would get the third spot, and was interested to see who would go out with Hall at a potentially unsustainable pace.

As you know, part of the entertainment in watching sports is the element of suspense. I'm sure you had your reasons for tape delaying the broadcast for six hours. I mean, what kind of demographic would get up early on a weekend to do something involving running? And I knew I could avoid Facebook to keep from seeing who won. It's not like you knew Flotrack would send me an e-mail that said that Meb won in the subject line. At least I didn't know who won the women's race and who got third in the men's race.

Also, thanks for not using all those fancy, expensive production techniques that you use in football, tennis, and the Purina dog show. I liked having to constantly guess what mile the runners were at. It was particularly interesting when you put up a split time for the top five women without indicating in any way what mile or kilometer split you were showing.

It was also interesting how you focused almost 100% on the human interest stories of each runner rather than, say, their previous best times for any distance, or, in the case of the men's third place finisher Abdi Adirahman, any of his times for his previous THREE Olympic trials 10k finishes. While you did mention a marathon PR in passing, it was usually like, "Deena Kastor holds the American record", or, "Ryan Hall's marathon PR is around three minutes faster than anyone in the field."

Really NBC? You at least mentioned which marathons Hall and Meb ran, and I'll give you the benefit of the doubt that you mentioned Davila almost won Boston while I wasn't listening, but how about their times? How they stack up against the best in the world? I did have to step away for about twenty minutes, so maybe you had amazing coverage for that twenty minutes, but I doubt it.

Anyway, thanks again for covering the marathon. I'm sure it's not the profit windfall you get from "Sunday Night Football," the "Purina Dog Challenge Championships," or "The Office." But maybe, just maybe, if you promoted it a little more, did a better job covering it and explaining the sport, and spent more than fourteen dollars on production costs, people might actually be a little more interested. I mean, there's around 40 million runners in this country who spend almost three billion dollars on running shoes alone. Seems like you could make a little money promoting to that demographic and maybe even pull in some casual sports fans with them.

Your friend,

2 comments: said...

Nice! I like it, Nate!

Nitmos said...

But it was as expected right? I didn't hold any expectations so they couldn't possibly disappoint. Frankly, I'm surprised it was on a major network at all. When I saw the listing, I remember muttering, "Hm, go figure."