Nice runners, bad coverage

Dallas' premier running event, the White Rock Marathon, usually known as The Rock was run this morning by thousands of runners. Runners come to the Metroplex for the event from all over the world, or from just down your street. About 4000 runners do the 26.2 mile marathon through lovely parts of Dallas, and the rest run the half-marathon or the five-member team relays.

After volunteering at the timing chip testing station for two days, I had greeted a big chunk of those runners, and wished them a good race. In two days, I met one (1) grumpy runner. The rest were polite, and easily amused. As they waved their timing chip above the scanner, they were stunned by the technology that instantly brought up their name, age, hometown, and race number on the computer screen. For many it seemed to be an official acknowledgement that whatever their time was on Sunday, they had already done something major by committing to the race and being disciplined in their training. "Sweet!" "Bingo!" "That would be me!" Spouses were proud of each other. Children were proud of parents, age twenty-five to seventy.

WFAA (Channel 8) coverage of The Rock was new this year. The t.v. show seemed to think viewers were only concerned about which man and woman won $12,000 in their divisions, and which handicapped runner completed the Hummer-sponsored Cooper Gender Challenge to win $25,000. I bet you could count on ten fingers the viewers who wanted to hear George Mason University coach Juli Henner's opinions about the decisions leading up to the Cooper Challenge handicap figure for the elite women. Nothing against Frank Shorter, but I wanted to see REAL LIVE PARTICIPANTS more than hear a pivotal figure in the sport analyze the history of modern marathons. I wanted to see coverage of all the elite runners finishing, of the enormous mass of runners at the starting line, coverage of outstanding local runners, and footage of runners passing the aid stations with live music.

My mom would have been so annoyed. This is what frustrated her about golf tournament coverage. It's all talking heads analysis, commercials (the same ones over and over), speeches by pompous corporate sponsors, the requisite athletes' visit to hospitalized children, and allegedly heart-warming stories of people overcoming adversity (or obesity) to compete. Thank heaven when I watched the NCAA mens soccer championship match on ESPN2 this afternoon there was coverage of the play, not coverage of the sportscasters.

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