December 09, 2008

Up the Thames without a paddle

The organisers of the Boat Race look a bit silly now that ITV has, not altogether surprisingly, lost interest in broadcasting it.

They sneakily fled the BBC back in 2004, in order to try and cash in on greater sponsorship opportunities (oh, and more money).

Now, ITV’s said it’s bored of the race, which doesn’t fit with its football, football and boxing approach to sport.

It’ll almost certainly go back to the Beeb.

Barney Ronay at the Guardian reckons it shouldn’t though. He says:

Taken purely as a sporting event it’s not immediately clear why the BBC would have any interest in broadcasting the race. The perception that the crews themselves are a bunch of itinerant third-raters may be out of date; but this is still not a spectacle that demands, on its merits, to be broadcast live on terrestrial TV.

Maybe this is true.

But then it’s also true of ‘International Bowls’, the Great North Run, cross country horse prancing (I’m going to get a kick from the missus for that one), and if we’re honest, any kind of rowing full-stop.

And yet, how many millions stayed up until 2am to watch Pinsent and Redgrave?

How many millions watch the London Marathon as if it’s not just pictures of sweaty people jogging?

TV sport has never been about showing events that are entertaining or exciting. Just look at bowls.

At least in its brevity, the Boat Race offers a Red Bull shot of sporting aggression and 100% effort.

Which is more than can be said for darts.


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