Friday, July 17, 2015

Pan-Am Coverage

Watching CBC Television's evening coverage of the Pan-American Games has been a disappointing experience. What's worse, it's not (just) a matter of their reduced budget allowing for little more than a Handycam and Bixi bike. No, I've had to conclude the fault is almost entirely my own.

"Merde! Shot-put in 20 minutes!"

Canada's public broadcaster has endured sea-changes galore in my lifetime. I can recall the summer of '76 and the Corporation's coverage of the Olympic Games quite well, because my mother allowed me unfettered access to the television so long as I helped her shell peas and trim beans for canning. Back then, CBC devoted its entire broadcast day to the games, delivering the events in real time, and repeating the entire cycle again and again, until the dawn delivered a new roster of events.

Forty years later, evening coverage is limited to two hours, with a single host holding down a desk and clipping through our national accomplishments in the various events. Video coverage rarely exceeds the 90 second mark. The format works best with races, particularly the short ones, but short-changes the longer events rather badly. Just one example I would have enjoyed seeing covered the old-fashioned way: Canada's loss to the Dominican Republic in Women's Volleyball was reduced to three punishing volleys in 88 seconds, providing the viewer with no sense of either team's depth.

Of course, we are encouraged to go on-line, or store the actual event coverage via PVR, or, better yet, install their Pan-Am Games app on our phones. Alas, I opted for the least expensive cable package, so no PVR. As for the app, my phone already behaves like a Cockatoo on a speed jag -- the last thing I want it to do is whistle and chirp at every shot-put result and lawn-bowling victory.

That's just how it goes, when you're a man out of time...


DarkoV said...

Darrell, "Down below the border line" (thank you, Lowell George), the Pan Am Games are broadcast on Channel Z (Pronounced in the Canadian, "My name is Ned..this is my brother Zed" way)or some such far distant Plutoesque channel. The announcers are as excited about the events as an early morning riser watching his toaster and waiting for the surprise. You are correct; the coverage is dismal.
Perfect example was the coverage for the Women's 400 IM, in which 17 yr old Canadian Emily Overholt won!!!!...and then got disqualified. The commentator's reactions were tepid and no live footage was provided of the infraction. Whether through sheer lack of where withal or (do I give then a mulligan?) empathy, you never saw the unfortunate Ms. Overholt's reaction. Coverage is basically existential.

Darrell Reimer said...

Up here the Corporation devotes two of every ten minutes to a portrait of one or more of our athletes, their families, home towns and favorite fishing holes, etc. Or the host will spend five minutes interviewing a spokesperson about LGBTQ concerns as they relate to the games. I'm certainly not against this sort of filler, but honestly: where are the sports?