Olympics: A broadcaster’s nightmare4 min read
A presenter, reporter and producer for major broadcasters around the world, Andy May has had an illustrious career in the world of sports broadcasting. Having worked with broadcasters including ESPN, Star Sports, Sky Sports, BBC Radio 1 and Real Madrid TV, he is currently working as a broadcaster for the 2016 Olympics in Rio. This is the second time he is working as a broadcaster for the biggest sporting event in the world.
The Manipal Journal caught up with the anchor to talk about the Olympics from a broadcasters’ perspective.
How different is broadcasting for Olympics than broadcasting for any other sport?
The Olympics is quite a challenge for the broadcasters because you’ve got so many different sports. Naturally, broadcasting outlet are not going to have experts in every single sports. There will be experts for sports like Tennis or athletics but for sports like Archery or Taekwondo or Judo, the minority sports, if you like, it’s a lot harder for the broadcaster to broadcast. You have to train an existing broadcaster to know about that sport or bring in new experts and train them about broadcasting. Either way, it is not a perfect match. It’s rare that you get someone from a minority sport who also happens to be a great broadcaster or vice versa. Operationally, it is huge because of multiple sports, the travelling involved. So, it’s different compared to doing just one sport like the World Cup or Wimbledon. It’s the biggest event a broadcaster can do.
As a broadcaster, is there any particular sport or a sportsperson which you would focus on and give more importance to than other sports?
In London(2012), Usain Bolt was probably the biggest star. Track and field events are what we prioritize and are considered big nights. Swimming is traditionally popular. Cycling is another event which is very popular, especially in the UK because they are so good at it. These are the big ones that I can think of at the top of my head. But then also, you have certain countries following certain individuals from their country. Like Usain Bolt, is going to be huge in the Carribbean.
What is it about the 100m race that makes it the biggest event if the Olympics, even though it gets over in less than 10 seconds.
9.69 seconds, actually. (Laughs) I think the exciting thing about 100m is the speed. If you are doing the 400m race, naturally, you can’t really sprint. You have to tone it down a bit. No one can sprint for 400m at full throttle. But, because, the 100m is the ultimate demonstration of speed, I think, that is what makes it so exciting. You watch Formula 1, because the cars are crazy fast. You don’t watch touring cars, because they are not fast enough and it isn’t as exciting. And then with the 100m, as an event, take that on one side, its the individuals and the big personalities taking part in the event like not just Bolt but even Michael Johnson(USA) and Dwain Chambers(UK). So, with the race, we also get these great personalities and that’s one of the bigger attractions as well.
You were one of the broadcasters for the Olympics in 2012. What difficulties did you face while anchoring?
To be honest, the Olympics in 2012 was very well organized. I was mainly doing football and was there for Bolt’s win. I think with football, the most difficult thing is that the players are under 23 years of age and so for the lesser nations like Republic of Korea, it is very hard to find information about a 19 year old who doesn’t play in the major league in the world, let alone in Europe. The research involved in knowing he’s out there on the field is not that easy.
In terms of team sports, like football and basketball why don’t we see the participation of big sportspersons?
It disappoints me. The Olympics is such an amazing event. But the Olympics doesn’t pay very well, does it? I’m not saying it’s all money motivated but in Olympics all you get is a medal. So, they prioritize other competitions over the Olympics.
Another reason for it is the scheduling, especially for football, as the Olympics falls in between the EUROs and the new season. I still think that players should do all they can to be there even if it means taking a month off playing their club football, even though it’s difficult because of the contracts but I still think they should do it.
As a broadcaster, do you think audience watch the Games, to support particular players or to support their country?
Exclude the big stars, like Bolt and Nehwal, I think majority people start watching for the country. They want the country to do well and over the course of the Olympics, these great personalities and individuals become the highlight of the Games. It starts with the country and then changes to be more about the individual.
Edited by Prajwal Bhat