NBC’s Paralympic Trails Telecast

A hour and a half of my life I can’t get back

Lets face it, we’ve all become accustomed to less at this point. Every time a major network gets a hand into covering disabled sport its likely going to be somewhat cliche and repetitive. I can almost live with that as a notion, however what I can not accept was a packaged, unimaginative, and recycled production that just really missed the mark. There’s so much here I want to say that I don’t know exactly where to start.

See, I know what it can look like when imagination goes into a production. Having been involved in production and have even covered perhaps the best Games you never saw, Sydney 2000. Damn, they did it right. That was a quickly defunct group called WE Media. They tried to get involved with webcasting before its time. The biggest problem was that few had high speed internet and nobody could afford the level of computer necessary to make it stream properly. Working side by side with Olympic announcer, Dwight Stone and Larry Rawson, one the the early pioneers to speak on disabled sports, it was done well, I mean really well. We were not canned, not confined and we learned from one another. It was truly top notch.

So lets break it down. Many times able bodied co-announcers will tend to pigeon hole the disabled announcer into directions that just waste valuable time. This is exactly what happened in the 800 featuring (don’t be surprised) Tatyana McFadden. In a race that unfolds in 1 minute and 40 seconds the focus needed to stay on the action and not the peripherals. Then we saw some blind sprinting, some amputee running and a shot putters profile segment. All good material, but the opportunity to introduce upshot racer Daniel Romanchuk was pretty glossed over. This is a guy who could set all new standards and we know nothing more today about him than we knew last week. On to the pool. I’ll just leave that there… Not sure what to say. Just too much discussion about disabled classifications. It became confusing.

Now what they could have showcased was some fast moving action, say, Basketball, hard hitting Rugby or handcycling. The athletes are riding state of the art $20,000 carbon fiber bikes that fly at more than 25 plus miles per hour just inches apart. This would have been compelling to watch, but would have required some production. A few cameras, plus a couple camera men on motorcycles. I’m imagining a lot of that decision was difficult logistics. They did do a few minutes on cycling of various styles, but really fell short by not covering the hand cycle race. Just a 3 minute canned package to roll in on the bike technology alone would have been very compelling.

Before I bore all you who made it to the 5th paragraph let me leave off with some ideas if there is a next time. If they plan to give disabled athletes an hour and a half they should have a team production meeting and try to learn something new and set the table. A little bit of discovery would have gone a long way towards introducing us to some new athletes and fresh content. I know we are not the Olympics, or the NFL, NBA or Baseball etc. But if NBC just dig a little deeper they may have been surprised at how much better that show could have been.

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