Occassional thoughts about orienteering
Thursday, June 23, 2011
Watching the Swedish TV Orienteering CoverageI watched the Swedish TV coverage of the sprint world cup races in Gothenberg. I thought the coverage was some of the best orienteering coverage I've seen. Personally, I'm not sure I like the "knock out" sprint format, but I think the coverage was strong.
You can see a clip of one of the semi final races below. The entire clip is about 10 minutes and gives you a good idea of what the entire coverage was like.
I watched the coverage and took a few notes. Among other things, I found that TV showed:
That's pretty good - over half of the race time the cameras showed the runners in action. I think it is quite unusual for orienteering coverage to have so little time devoted to empty terrain, waiting for a runner to show up.
I watched two of the races (the one above and one of the finals) and counted how often each of the three commentators was talking. The commentators were: Rickard Ekman (a sports journalist), Anders Garderud (Olympic gold medalist and orienteer who runs for IFK Lidingo), and Helena Jansson (WOC gold medalist orienteer). For the most part, Ekman described what was going on. He was the play-by-play. Garderud and Jansson provided "color commentary." Ekman spoke the most. I didn't time each commentator. Instead, I counted how often they were leading the commentary. Ekman had the lead 27 times. Garderud was leading 18 times. Jansson was leading 18 times.
As a viewer, the balance between the color commentators and the play-by-play commentator felt about right.
People frequently criticize the knock out sprint format (mass start, no forking, first 2 finishers qualify for the next round) for being nothing but a group running around together. That's a valid criticism, but it is a bit of an over simplification. In the 8 minute race shown in the video, there are a couple of legs where people take different routes. So, there is some splitting up.
You can criticize the format for minimizing map reading, too. I think a lot of the runners just hung with the pack, looking at the map now and then. But, they did look at the map. If you watch the video, you'll see that they are looking at the map and they do so fairly often.
One way to think about the coverage is to think about how this 8 minute race compares to a race like Jukola. If you watch 8 minutes of Jukola coverage, how much of that is likely to be runners in the forest? How many times would you see a pack of Jukola runners splitting up on route choices?
Overall, I think the SVT coverage was very good. I thought this was especially interesting:
SVT commented that the format itself was interesting and that the production was OK, with some room for improvement (which we know). Last week-end the European Team Championships in Track & Field was held in Stockholm and the number of viewers for orienteering was in parity with the number of viewers for that event, which is a good number.
I'll be interested to see how the TV-versions of orienteering develop. I hope we see more experimenting and I think it is moving in a generally positive direction.posted by Michael | 8:04 PM
Back to okansas.blogspot.com.
:-P It wasn't just the same number of spectators, it was most likely the SAME spectators, because in the end it was just a Track&Field(with map).
1) The later winner did not read much map neither in Quarter- nor Semifinal.
2) The later winner waited until the third last control and even from there his tactics was 'taking the same route as Hubmann'.
This is not his fault to win that way. It is the settings fault. The combination of 'no routechoices' and 'even routechoices' with a 500m run-in in my opinion is no good direction (->3000m Urban Steeple) (Even some runners like Merz, Bortnik, Eliasson or Bilstam could not believe, that it had nothing to do with orienteering) (Why did it have to be in Göteborg? - I saw about 200 Spectators and GPS does obviously not work in a citys center).
So all in all. To make this TV format really unique there should be a form reintroducing orienteering in it, for example something like this: http://o-zeugs.blogspot.com/2011/02/woc-2014-langdistanz-mit-massenstart.html (btw. nice phrase! Like Biathlon decided to reintroduce shooting :-)
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