We have a great guest post here for you today; whilst it isn’t technically about extreme sports it is about the lack of sport that we see on our TVs when a large event like the Olympics isn’t on (excluding the obvious like soccer and baseball). Have a read through and let us know what you think in the comments – maybe we should all start campaigning for more coverage of extreme sport on TV.
Now that the Olympics are over, the world gets to sit back and let the adrenaline rush fade. The USA takes the top spot with 46 total gold medals, China comes in second with 38, and Great Britain third with 29. The events were amazing, as they always are, but it got me thinking. Why do we have so many events that only get televised access during the Olympics? Why don’t we have access to these incredible sports throughout the year?
If you look back through the history, there are some events that have been one-shot wonders. They couldn’t stay in the Olympics, let alone gain a permanent spot on television. I’d love to watch dueling pistols and the live pigeon shooting, but they’re not likely to return. But what about Handball, Gymnastics, Swimming/Diving, or even Track and Field? These are major events that we can’t wait to see in the games. It doesn’t make sense to have the thriving attention of the world and the sheer anticipation of the competition, only to have them virtually vanish after the closing ceremonies.
Seven players on each side move towards the goal, throwing the ball at 80+mph while the goalkeeper tries to stop it. This is a high-energy, high-action sport that returned to the Olympics in 1972, but when do you see it televised otherwise? You don’t. In Scandinavia, it’s a huge sport, bigger than soccer, and over 30 million people play the sport regularly, worldwide.
The very word is synonymous with the Olympics, yet we don’t see much of the events on TV during the periods between the international competitions. There are so many amazing events within gymnastics: floor exercise, horizontal bar, beam, vault, parallel bars, rings, pommel horse, uneven bars; the list goes on. This is the epitome of human perfection and discipline, so why don’t we get more?
Here’s another set of events people want to watch. I group swimming and diving together only because they’re both water competitions—not because they lack individual importance. With a combined 617 total medals in both events, who wouldn’t want to see more of David Boudia and Michael Phelps? There are 32 different events in swimming to choose from which could be a whole program in and of itself.
Track and Field
Out of all the events in the Olympics, the USA dominates track and field more than any other. 310 gold medals total; nine of those in London 2012. I love watching the speed, form and incredible athletic prowess of our athletes and ache for more. Show me a man who wouldn’t love watching the adrenaline rush of the shot put, discus, javelin, hammer throw, pole vault or the famous high jump! So why don’t we have more sports coming to our televisions?
Wide World of Sports
The answer to this dilemma, at least from 1961 to 2006, was produced by ABC: “Wide World of Sports.” This program was so popular, it inspired successful spin-off’s, like The American Sportsman…as well as spawning international versions of itself. I grew up watching Jim McJay and he was a key reason why I became passionate about the Olympics. What made WWOS so good was their coverage of what they called exotic sports. Each and every week, they would focus on a major event, even though it wasn’t considered a major sport. We were able to enjoy and partake of so much more than just football, baseball, basketball and boxing. So ABC, what happened?
Is It Just A Money Game?
NBC had the rights to televise the Olympic events in the USA this year. They also provided several apps with streaming options. However, NBC is a Comcast-owned network—and the cable company only provided full access to the customers who pay for their services. It made me wonder if exotic sports lacked enough overall draw in terms of dollars, for the big networks to even bother. The ratings on the Olympic sports, however, are at their highest point in history.
My thought is that the networks just can’t see the money making potential in non-traditional sports. It’s outside their mode of thinking and their well established connections with associations like the NFL and NBA. In the end, my guess is—it’s about the cash. So until a light bulb turns on in the heads of executives, or we clamor as a nation for such coverage, it’s unlikely to happen anytime soon.
Stephanie Caldwell is from Salt Lake City and writes for CableTV.com. She loves to run, read, and write.