Monday, January 20, 2014

Obstacle Course Racing on TV...well, it's a start!

At the Spartan Championship Race in Vermont last September, one of the highlights was the filming of the event for television.  And NBC Sports was there...filming away.  This was a major development in the sport.  For anyone that has been following Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) for a while, one of the key elements to stepping up the game is attracting a fan base.  And a key element of attracting a fan base is that you have to have a means of covering the event.  I was very interested in seeing how this played out.  Obviously it wasn't going to be live coverage of this race...but it was a start!

Last April I was talking about the future of OCR [see The present and future of Obstacle Course Racing (Part1) and The present and future of Obstacle Course Racing - Part Deux)] and a major shortcoming of the race is that virtually no one could see it.  At that time, there were few obstacles visible to spectators.  However, the vast majority of the race was out of sight.  Makes it tough to root for your racer when you have no idea where they are...or where anyone else is for that matter.

With TV filming then, would that help promote the sport and provide some race coverage ideas for the future?  I know I was excited to see the final product.  I saw this as an opportunity for people to see what these races were really all about.  Up to now, anytime they showed a race it seemed to be the same few obstacles popping up.  Spartan Race seemed to be excited initially too.  But for some reason the showing was postponed until a later date.  Five or six weeks later in fact.  Well, that happens I'm sure.  What surprised me though, as the new release date approached, was that Spartan Race did not seem to be promoting the show quite as emphatically as it had immediately after the race.  And for anyone who follows Spartan Race...that was odd.  Very odd!!

One reason for this may have been a change in their marketing staff.  But as important as this must have been to them, someone at Spartan Race would have noticed it wasn't being blasted around the Internet!  Another reason is more likely though.  It seems reasonable that Spartan Race had a chance to see the final product before release.  And I can't imagine they were particularly thrilled with it.  Not that it was a poor job by any means.  Just disappointing.  At the very least it wasn't able to bring across the grueling, mind-numbing nature of this course in particular or any excitement about the race itself!  Of course I wouldn't know how to go about doing this either...but I'm not a TV producer.  I saw the same exact format used on one of those "survivor" type races and, I'm sorry to say, it was dull.  Dull....dull....dull!  And these races are not dull!  Brutal...torturous...painful...inspiring...fulfilling...but not dull!!  No race should come across like that...ever.

So, there's still some work to do on this.  A lot of work apparently!  OCR is a new and exciting sport and only needs the right person to bring it across on screen.  The Super Bowl has nothing to fear....yet.  On a positive note though, there appears to be change happening in OCR.  Another step in the maturing of OCR perhaps.  More on that thought in the next post!

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