52 Thoughts About ESPN2's Broadcast Of The US Open From Madison Square Garden

by LetsRun.com
January 30, 2012

(Editor's note: Having only glanced at the US Open results, an anonymous LetsRun.com employee decided to stay off the Internet for the most part and sit down and watch the entire US Open broadcast on ESPN2 to see how the "Average Joe" is being shown track and field. So often, at LRC, we are in the stands of the big events and fail to get a good feel for how the sport is being presented on TV. Here are the employees thoughts).

The Opening
Good Intro graphics from ESPN. I  liked how they called MSG the "spiritual home" of indoor track. Maybe I should start numbering my thoughts or this is going to be impossible to follow. Here I go.

1. I hear a British voice. That is great. Tim Hutchings is the lead guy. What a treat. He makes the broadcast so much better. He's with Dwight Stones and Ato Boldon. That's good. Who is covering the distances?

2. Lewis Johnson. He's better than Larry Rawson but can't they just let Lewis do interviews and let someone else actually analyze the distance races? Despite being a former mid-d runner himself, he seemingly messes up the analysis of so many distance races it's become a pet peeve. (Update after end of broadcast: I liked how Lewis was trackside and they would drop in mid-race to ask him a few questions but he didn't do the main analysis).

Women's 800
3. Can't they find more than 4 women to run an 800? Who wouldn't want to run on ESPN2? Athletes should be clamoring to do it for free. Why don't shoe companies actually tie their $$ to publicity? They spend tens of thousands on some athletes and then don't care if they run in front of a few hundred on an oversized track in Washington or a few hundred thousand on ESPN2? If USATF/ESPN2 is leading with this event because it features a high schooler then play that up more otherwise lead with a stronger event to try and entice people to watch.

4. Loved Hutchings' comment when Magiso won the women's 800, which included high schooler Ajee Wilson - "Looks like a woman amongst young girls." Very well put.

5. (It looks like Hutchings is actually analyzing the distance races and maybe Lewis just doing interviews as we hoped. Memo to ESPN - hire LetsRun to analyze the distance races and let Dwight do the field events). In terms of the race, why did Dwight Stones say the time was "very disappointing" at the end. It wasn't disappointing for Magiso. It was clear she had no idea how many laps the race was. Her game plan was to run in second until she heard the bell and then go all out. Her last lap was fantastic. She was running for the win and the time meant nothing to her and thus shouldn't have been mentioned. The high schooler Wilson looked good as well.

6. Harris is the presenting sponsor. What the hell is Harris? I have no idea despite them showing us their logo.

7. The Visa Championships trophy does look good. No doubt about it.

8. It's cool that they have "Budweiser" sponsoring the High Jump. The sport can't survive without sponsors. Someone at USATF or ESPN did a good job.

9. The profile if Jesse Williams was pretty good. I liked how he started by saying he has "serious ups." It was great they showed him jamming on the b-ball court.

Boys HS Mile
10. Didn't they start by saying this meet would end at London for the competitors? Well, that's clearly not true for the HSers. But again, why wouldn't every HSer in the country want to run in this race? You're on ESPN2.

11. OK, Dwight Stones is showing his lack of understanding of distance running. He just said that the reason why a lot of girls are good as sophomores and juniors but not seniors is because as seniors they get focused on college and get distracted. Every heard of body changes?

12. Hutchings is a great announcer. He can make a race about US high schoolers that he knows nothing about sound good.

12. OK, Dwight is doing it again. He's a field event guy - not a distance guy. He said that the guy that ran the third 400 right on the shoulder of the leader wasted a lot of energy by running a lot of extra ground. Quite honestly, I thought it was perfect running. You don't want the field to box you in and take 2nd from you, so run on the outside shoulder of the leader. It's barely more ground and you are drafting off of him anyway.

13. That was a great last lap. When Millrose was at MSG, I always have thought that the Boys HS mile was arguably one of the more exciting events. On the last lap, Zavon Watkins cut the leader Nick Christensen off, who in turn gave him a push in return. Then you had a 3-way sprint to the finish. Plus Watkins then celebrated in front of the camera and looked really pumped. Again, why wouldn't every HSer want to run in this race more so than, say, even Foot Locker? Where is Watkins going to school?

14. Dwight Stones really is a good announcer. He does a WAY better job on the distance events than I'd do with the field events. I'm just stating that given my previous criticisms. He did a great job of recounting that race.

15. A+ recap of that boys mile race.

Women's Mile
16. The record in the event at MSG is 4:21.45? Really? Were they doped? Those were my first thoughts as that is really fast for the track. Then they put up the graphic showing that the record dates from the 1980s and was set by an Eastern European woman. I won't comment further as I don't want to get sued. (Editor's note: The author needs to pay more attention to LRC. Just last week we noted how Mary Slaney ran 4:00.8 for 1500m as a 21 year old (better than 4:21.45 for a mile) and made the cover of Sports Illustrated. Simply amazing. And while Slaney later got a drug conviction, we doubt she was doping as a 21 year old although that record makes us think it's conceivable that she was.)

17. Why did they call Terrence Mahon an "old coach?" He's not even 40, is he?

18. Having glanced at the results, I know that Pierce doesn't win this race before it starts, so that may bias us, but doesn't Pierce look a little bit big? Maybe I shouldn't ask that, but people comment on Alan Webb's weight all the time, so isn't it only natural to ask?

19. Brenda Martinez looks good. She's pacing the rabbit before 800. Fantastic run. Wow!!!

20. Anna Pierce looked awful. She wouldn't even be the top miler in the Ivy League. In the post-race inteview, she said she's just rusty. Is that wishful thinking? Probably. But like with Alan Webb, she shouldn't be ruled out just yet, but she better show something soon. We guess 4:39 isn't that awful on the MSG track. Maybe she could run 4:15? Maybe.

600 yards
21. Wow, I hought Jackson had it. Quow came on late to get the win. Fun race. The 600 yards ends at the end of the track. In some of the other races, it wouldn't be possible to pass that late.

22. I liked how Jackson said, "Every kid dreams of being an Olympic champion." It's good to remind the fans that everyone is dreaming big this time of year.

Men's Mile
23. So the mile isn't the last event on the schedule? Isn't that an MSG tradition?

24. Didn't realize that Daniel Komen won two indoor silvers.

25. What are the two white guys doing in the race? They can't even hang onto a 60-second 400. Why would you want to go on national TV if you aren't in shape?

26. That was a great race. As fast as that last lap was, it's hard to believe they didn't break 4:00 off of a 3:01.

27. Hello, Nike executives. Can you please fire the person who decided to dress Silas Kiplagat and Bernard Lagat in the same uniforms? Imagine if two NFL teams wore the same uniforms. Ridiculous.

28. I'm glad they interviewed Kiplagat after the race. Our sport can't pretend our stars are not people because they are black and speak English with an accent. (Every foreign tennis star who is white and has an accent gets interviewed).

Women's Pole Vault
29. Jillian Schwarz has switched her allegiance to Israel? Really? A 2004 US Olympian. Give me a break. I have anger towards all of these collegians switching allegiances mid-year but switching countries is ridiculous.

Women's 50-Meter Hurdles
30. Nick Symmonds, take note. Lolo Jones has two sponsors - Red Bull on her head. If you are good-looking, the sponsors will be there for you.

31. While I'm waiting for them to start, I've got say that ESPN2/USATF does a good job of not making it obvious the crowd is small. It's so dark in MSG that it looks full.

32. Lolo Jones looked good. It's really great to see someone be so excited, "She's back."

33. A great interview. I see why Red Bull sponsors her. Beautiful, fast, and a great interview. Get ready for the Olympic profiles. (Editor's Note: They've already started. See this month's Outside Magazine to the right)

Men's 50-Meter Hurdles
34. Good pre-race analysis by Ato Boldon. He told us exactly what to expect (good start by Trammel, Oliver late close) and that's exactly what happened. I actually thought Oliver didn't look bad except for the start. His post-race interview was good. He said he executed the hurdles well. That's what I thought from my untrained eyes. And now the commentators are saying the same thing even though they said he looked "rusty" at first.

Men's Shot Put
35. Adam Nelson was in the Ivy League at the same time as LetsRun.com co-founders Weldon and Robert Johnson. Thus, it's not surprising that Nelson looks like a middle-aged stockbroker. Does he have a gut now? I'd love to see him win an Olympic gold, as I can't believe he's still at it.

36. Can you say "Damn" on TV?

37. Why are they showing every throw on TV? I've never seen this before in my life. Shot put fans, rejoice.

Women's 50m
38. How come a big star like Campbell-Brown will do indoors but so many US top stars won't do it?

39. God, Campbell-Brown destroyed everyone. She looked incredible. How do you win by that much?

40. That being said, how was she not DQed? Talk about a flinch in the blocks.

41. As good as that was, considering she's Jamaican, I wonder if she leaves happy or a bit nervous thinking, "My God, if I do that at the Olympics, I get DQed." A sprinter friend of mine once told me that sprinters don't think that way and they don't fear the DQ. He said, "You try to get your mind into a Buddhist blank state and wait for a loud noise." Thank God I'm not a sprinter, as I'd be fearing the DQ. But at MSG, the fans never really get totally quiet, so it's probably hard to not move a little.

42. I love the Jamaican accent.

Men's 50m
44. If the world record is 5.56 and the AR is 5.56, shouldn't they be co-record holders or is that a typo?

45. Hard to believe that one of the following won't be in the Olympics a 100m for Jamaica - Powell, Blake, Carter, Bolt.

46. Powell did great in getting the win. He's supposed to be the best starter in the sport. I would think this would give him a lot of confidence, as his start was awful but his acceleration was great.

47. I'm surprised to hear Boldon complain about the starter not stopping guys for flinching in the blocks. When Blake did it in Daegu, he didn't 100% agree with LRC.

48. I don't know why people are disappointed with the time. He was .08 from the WR and had a horrible start.

49. I wonder if given his disappointment if not getting the WR, if that was a big part of Asafa's contract.

Women's Pole Vault
50. Again, why is Jillian Schwartz allowed to compete for Israel? I don't get it. She competed in 7 WCs for the US and an Olympics. They shouldn't allow it at all, but if the do they ought to say at the very least, "You must actually live in the 2nd country you compete for." Does she live there? Looks like USATF just waived the 3-year rule.

51. I don't want to hear from Schwartz. Let's talk to Suhr, who is world-ranked #1.

Conclusion
52. The broadcast was good overall but the ending was terrible. You end with the women's pole vault and some awkward interview with a nobody?  End it with the 50m or a brief recap of the meet. Also, you've got to get more people to compete in something like the women's 800. People should be lining up to run for free on ESPN2. It shouldn't be a problem to find 5 people for a women's 800.

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