Where Your Dreams Become Reality
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly from the 2006 Millrose Broadcast
Since we started the tradition of asking people who attended one of the professional track meets to post what they did and did not like about the meet (see the thread on the Millrose Games here), we figure we should do the for the tv announcing of each meet.
And we'll be more generous than the people at firejoemorgan.com (a blog that only seems to criticize broadcasters) and start off with the things we liked before going into the criticism and two wonderful blunders. The point of this is not to rip into every broadcast (although we bet the broadcasters will feel that way as there is a natural tendency to focus on the negative instead of the positive), but to improve the overall quality of the broadcasts by letting the people in power know how we feel.
OK, the things we liked. Well before we get into specifics, we liked that the overall production of the meet was of high quality which is very important if you are trying to draw in people to the broadcast who aren't die-hard fans.
We liked the fact they had historical footage from Millrose Games of the past. This brought out the #1 thing going for Millrose, its tradition. There were clips from way back, Wilma Rudolph, and more recently, Gail Devers (who was returning to action after having her baby). Millrose used to be the biggest and best indoor track meet in the world and it is smart to tie into this tradition. Two hours of track on television is a good thing but without the historical footage or some other pieces sprinkled in, there would barely be two hours to cover on tv. Additionally, we were pleased that they played interviews with Bekele (in English, he is slowly becoming more marketable, like Geb) and Lagat before the Wannamaker mile. They also threw in some championship footage of Bekele.
We also liked the fact they had a few minutes on the USATF "Be a Champion" program, in which the athletes visit local schools. The kids were psyched to see the athletes and vice versa and it gave the image that the athletes in the sport are stars, which they are. We shouldn't have to mention this next thing, but we do, because sometimes they don't do it, but we liked the fact they showed all the main events at Millrose on the tv broadcast. On a 2 hour broadcast, admittedly that's not too hard to do. So we guess we should praise them for the fact that they had 2 hours of track on tv.
Now on to the announcers. First a few snippets of praise until we get into firejoemorgan.com mode and rip the ridiculous things announcers say on tv.
First the praise. Dwight Stones used to be only a field event guy but he actually is pretty knowledgeable about the distance races and the track. He said Tiffany McWilliams would be the de facto women's rabbit and she was. In the girls hs mile, while Rawson's attention was on the 2 leaders, Stones (although he technically was play by play guy and not the color commentator) was the first to say "do not count out Danielle Tauro," who came from off the pace to smoke everyone for the win. He also knew the scalps Dominique Arnold took at Millrose in 2000 when he won the hurdles. He astutely pointed out there weren't World Champs when Lasse Viren ran, which is why Bekele has the most world and Olympic medals.
Larry Rawson made a good point that even we didn't realize when he said that Jen Toomey set a personal best last week in Boston. That comment right there showed that these guys do their homework even if a lot of the time the hard-core fan doesn't appreciate it.
Ok, now onto the criticism. A general area of criticism is that these are taped broadcasts. This meet was on 2 days later against the Super Bowl so we assume no one watched it when it aired (but maybe we're wrong; interesting fact - did you know half of America doesn't even watch the Super Bowl?). But if a meet is taped and the announcer completely botches something and they know it, what about going back and editing it just a bit? Maybe it costs too much money, but at Boston (we're not going back to the tivo to review that meet) and Millrose there were some real errors that could easily have been fixed.
We're not saying go back and edit the whole thing. I mean we hated much of last year's NCAA broadcast because it was clear they re-taped a lot of the races where an unknown won a race. If an announcer is caught totally off-guard because some no-name wins something, then it's probably best to let that go as it shows how remarkable of an upset it is.
OK, now with the taped broadcast thing. Reese Hoffa threw very long in the shot put (a Visa championship leader). They were featuring the shot put as one of the events they were covering. They showed some of the early throws and some of the last throws, yet for some reason there is no footage of Hoffa's Visa-leading throw. Hello? What's going on? All the throws we assume are taped. If you're going to cover the event, don't you think you should actually cover it with some integrity and show the winning throw? Clearly they spent some money on the production of the meet with the historical footage, interviews, and shots of NYC, so how about actually spending some time editing the meet and making sure you show what's important?
Now onto the announcers. Sure there are going to be mistakes and we understand that, but we guess they don't edit anything.
We'll just start with a small factual error. Dwight Stones said the US indoor track champs would be at the Bronx, when they were talking about the US XC champs (hey we somehow wrote they were going to be at Central Park when we know better so it's easy to make a mistake).
Now on to some bigger errors. They had an email segment where fans could email questions (oh yeah we forgot to mention this was something we liked; it shows they are not just showing up at the meet, producing the show in 2 hours and going home, although they don't seem to edit out many mistakes from the actual "live" broadcast). Some guy asked, "Do the banked tracks and lack of wind indoors make up for the tighter turns compared to outdoor tracks?" Dwight Stones replied, "Of course it does". What? Are you kidding? Dwight would have been better if he answered, "Of course it does NOT". This guy was basically asking if indoor tracks are as fast as outdoor ones. (The consensus is they are not). Yet Dwight Stones answered completely wrong.
Dwight Stones totally botched the women's 60m call. Me'Lisa Barber had a lead in the 60m dash, and Veronica Campbell was closing on her and Dwight yelled right at the finish as Campbell passed Barber "Veronica Campbell trying to catch her but forget about it" and then acted like Barber won the race. The only little problem was that Campbell did catch her. Larry Rawson had to point this out to Dwight. You think they might want to redo Dwight's call since it was wrong. It was entertaining nonetheless since it was wrong. Maybe that is what they are going for, but it just seems like with a taped broadcast you should have fewer errors. But then again, we don't want it to be too perfect and we want it to feel somewhat live. And then again, John Madden makes a lot of stupid comments and he's very popular. But it seems like these guys are used to working off tape as witnessed by this year's Boston Marathon where Larry Rawson was on live doing a segment, but thought he was being taped. He screwed up and said, "Wait do that again." Only problem was it was live. So what we don't get is how come they re-edit it too much sometimes (NCAAs) and not enough other times (here).
And now on to the 2 award winners from the meet. These deserve to go up in the firejoemorgan.com hall of fame if there is such a thing. (And don't get us wrong; we're not saying the announcers should be fired)
They were commenting on the 60m hurdlers as they were getting into the blocks. Larry Rawson was talking about Dominique Arnold's surprise Millrose win in 2000. Dwight astutely mentioned the scalps Arnold took down. And then Larry Rawson, out of left field, threw in this comment: "If Craig Mottram of Australia was his countryman, the Aussies would have him out all night drinking for what he did in that race." Huh? Where the hell did this come from? We're talking about a US sprinter and for some reason Rawson makes some comment about an Australian distance runner and how if he was teammates with an American sprinter 6 years ago, they'd be out getting smashed? What made him think of this? Mottram wasn't even at the meet and we bet most of the viewers don't even know who he is. We're not sure how the thought even entered his mind. You could only laugh at the tv. Dwight just stayed in stunned silence. How about just saying, "I bet he had a good night out in NYC after that one, Dwight" if you want to talk about how he celebrated his win. (LetsRun.com note: Rojo didn't have time to watch the broadcast but he's editing this piece and thinks it sounds fine, but this shows how much Rojo knows. Rojo had the genius idea for the Louis Luchini petition).
It's hard to top Rawson's comment above, but keen fans of track and field announcing might give the top award to a comment from Dwight Stones, because it was some sort of poetic justice. Much to the chagrin of many letsrun.com posters, in nearly every broadcast, Larry Rawson says something along the lines of "if you go down to your local high school track" and makes some analogy to how many laps they're running and how fast they are running. Many letsrun.com posters hate this comment. (Soon there will be a drinking game on the internet where people get smashed, with Craig Mottram we might add, every time a "high school track" or "leg turnover" (another Rawson favorite) are mentioned in a broadcast.)
Well in this broadcast, unbelievably, Rawson never mentioned the local high school track. Come to think of it, we're not even sure he mentioned leg turnover. But the track broadcasts are clearly haunted now by some sort of curse in this matter because Dwight Stones somehow felt the need to mention the high school track and even how Larry Rawson likes to mention the high school track. Dwight was talking about the men's 500m and how it was rarely run at the professional level. Here's what he said: "(the 500m is) rarely run. It's 5 laps around your local high school track, as my (friend) Larry Rawson would like to say."
Larry was so shocked anyone could use his favorite phrase he couldn't even correct Dwight for getting it so wrong. (In case you haven't figured it out, 5 laps around a high school track would be 2000m not 500m). He could only chuckle. We're still laughing.
If you have praises or criticisms of the broadcast, share them in this message board thread.
We probably should come up with some sort of report card, but we're not sure how to rate the broadcast. Some of it was good and some of it was truly laughable.
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