The camera’s coverage of different sports, however different, all have some similarities: The three sports I watched all showed the crowds to build atmosphere, scores/times/positions to keep the audience informed, advertisements and close-ups of “favourite” competitors. Also, each sport offered the best viewpoints it could find and tried to keep viewers interested when nothing was happening. All of this was so they could maintain their viewer’s attention and make money! Another crucial feature in the coverage of televised sport is sound. Sound accompanies the pictures and helps to maintain an audience’s interest in the sport.
In all three of the sports I watched crowds could be heard, commentators were used and stars and experts put across their view. Trackside microphones were used to pick up sounds unique to the sport being watched: in football it was possible to hear the football being kicked and the ref’s whistle, running could be heard in the London Marathon and the sound of the cars could be heard in the Brazilian Grand Prix. The most important sound in sport is that of the commentators’ voices. Commentators are used to do 3 main jobs fill in time when there is nothing interesting happening, build tension when something interesting is and keep viewers informed about what’s going on. All of this is designed to keep an audience interested in the sport, so they won’t change channels. Commentators have to be very skilled for those reasons.
The commentators used in the Man-U Vs Real Madrid gave background information, such as previous match scores, club history and player’s histories when there was time to fill, although in football, background information has to be kept brief because something important can happen after a single kick of the ball. In running and motor racing, contestants tend to stay in the same position after the first few miles/laps until the end, which is when positions are likely to change.
Clichs, such as “It’s show time!” and “Simply the best” were used at the beginning of the Man-U – Real Madrid match to create excitement and tension at the beginning and end of the event and also when an important event happened. When fouls were played, or the ball got close to the goal, the commentators kept the audience entertained by speeding up their pace and describing every pass of the ball until the action ended.
The commentators filled in time in the second half by describing what Manchester United’s Manager, Alex Ferguson, might have said to his players during half time: “I expect he’s been having a few words with them in the dressing room about their performance tonight”. As with the other two sports I watched, football commentators named people on the pitch to keep viewers informed. In football, it is usually whoever has possession of the ball, a goal-scorer or people involved in a foul. The London Marathon mentioned the names of whoever is on the screen and in the Grand Prix details of positions, people in the pit-stop or people who crashed were pointed out.
Also in the Brazilian Grand Prix, commentators gave details about cars’ speed “they have to stay below 70mph just now”, model, manufacturer “Ferrari”, type of tyres used and information on the recent change of rules. This was because the cars were following a safety car, so there wasn’t much happening and the commentators had to fill in the time: “They’ll be unhappy about the slow start”, “The change of tyres may affect Schumacher’s performance in this weather”. Even if the race wasn’t delayed, there would still be time to fill as there are around 72 laps in the Grand Prix. Information on why the safety car was being used and driver’s histories were given: “The safety car will warm up the tyres and help the drivers to get used to the conditions”.
Because the commentators needed to keep the audience interested for so long, tactics being used and tactics which could be used were explained: “If he fills up his tank now, then because of the slow start it won’t affect his speed and by the time the race speeds up, his fuel will last longer”. Commentators expressed their personal opinions about the race aswell. Many technical terms about cars’ performances and specifications were used to make the event more authentic. This technique was also used in the football: terms such as “goal”, “pass”, “foul”, “free-kick” were all used to give a clear description of what was going on. Both the London Marathon and the Man-U Vs Real Madrid game had biased commentators: the football commentators were biased towards Man-U and the marathon commentators were biased towards the British athletes, especially Paula Radcliffe.
A lot of time filling was used in the marathon, as it takes at least two hours for most professional runners to complete it. This meant the audience were told about the athlete’s histories: recent races run and won, methods of training, previous injuries etc. “Paula famously trains with her husband”, “Won a gold medal in the commonwealth 800m last year”. One of the commentators was an ex-marathon runner himself, so he gave his professional experience and his view on how runners must be feeling: When Paula Radcliffe was near the end of the marathon, he commented on how she must be feeling-“It’s really beginning to hurt now”, “She must be feeling the pain”
Once Paula had finished, the presenter went over to her held an interview with her. This is this case with most winners or important players in sports and it’s because the television companies really want to attract viewers and however good the view people at the event receive, or however much fun they had it is highly unlikely they will ever have the chance to interview a star from the event. The stars can tell everyone what it was really like, and what they thought of certain incidents. There are lots of camera shots of the winners, but in the Man-U – Real Madrid game it was also possible to see the teams shaking hands and swapping shirts. So why do people enjoy watching televised sport?
I think it’s all down to the quality of coverage: the use of cameras, sound, replays, commentary, close-ups, interviews with stars, and expert opinions. All of this, in no small way helps to attract an audience. It’s the same as any television show: if you find it boring, you won’t watch it, so it’s up to the television companies to make the sports as attractive and interesting as they possibly can. Additionally, the way in which people watching the sport on television, who usually get to view sport for free, have many more luxuries and features than the spectators at the event who pay dramatically influences the reasons why people enjoy to watch televised sport. Football, running and motor racing all make an effort to be as dramatic and exciting as possible solely to attract viewers, all their techniques seem to work, so they must be effective!