had several email correspondence after that post. I sent him the following
(which has been edited a bit) and he thought I should post it in the
newsgroup because he thought it sounds good. So there.
Subject: Re: Fencing *Abused* By Media
I think you might be right. You should post this to the group.
<<<Enclosed, in case you deleted your copy
I remember when I was a kid, just having moved to America from Hong Kong. I
was watching football (American) and couldn't for the life of me understand
why they would line up and do nothing for about 15 seconds, then run straight
into each other for about 2 seconds and then stop. By the mid-70's, I could
call practically every play the Cowboys would make (then again, Tom Landry
wasn't ever so ingenious...).
OTOH, I still can't get the jist of basketball strategy, despite still enjoying
the M. Jordans and C. Barkleys doing their things.
The point is, no one explained it to me. Instead, the announcers assumed
that I understand the actions and just called the action as it happened.
That way, the viewer made the effort to relate the terms with the action.
The same thing can work for fencing. Just do the play-by-play and assume the
audience knows whats happening. What helps is an emotional announcers (like
Peter Burchard, but maybe even more emotional -*** Vitale?) who can give the
human touch to the sport so that it's not "attack from the right,
parry-riposte from the left, touch for the left..." Ho-hum. Instead, if
the announcer said:
"My GAWD, WHAT an ATTACK!! but Mary had the distance nailed the parry with
a strong four. And then that riposte!! It was going in without a doubt."
"Amazing, Jack, Mary's really relying on her longer reach. Too bad Bobby
isn't trying to get inside her defense..." "Yes Marv, Bobby has to get inside
her defense if he is to get any hits on her. Bobby is clearly outmatched
today if he's going to hang around the perimeter. Let's see, WOW, did you see
that double disengage cutover to the back shot! Amazing! Just AMAZING!"
I mean, if there are announcers who can make soccer interesting (e.g., the
ubiquitous, "GOOOOOOAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!" that went wailing
away last summer from the World Cup matches), I think fencing can get the
same treatment. It helps if the fans in the stands all cheer at the same
time when a great action occurred.
This past February at the JO Championships at San Jose, I was at the finals
of the U-20 MF. It was a very good show. Too bad the camera guy from KNTV
left before the action started, because one can easily get into the spirit
of the event without having seen fencing before. There were a number of
people in the audience who have never seen fencing, and they were cheering
and feet-stomping with the rest of the more experienced fencing audience.
The point is that USFA has to sell the sport. People will make a darned
good effort to learn it if they 'buy' the sport.
Also, I think it's time the USFA admin folks put in a concerted effort to
raise media awareness. The fencers have produced the results (re: Felecia
Zimmerman #1 junior woman foilist, but isn't even mentioned in the sidenotes
of SI), it's now up to the USFA body to toot the horns and get the media to
rush over. I recall talking to a seasoned vet fencer about this lack of
media coverage. He thinks, and I agree, that the route to take is to schmooze
with the media folks. Invite them to the tourneys, serve expensive drinks
and food, have a fulltime media liasion person who is engaging and knowledgeable
about the sport, but would rather schmooze than talk about it. Also, hold the
events at glitzy places, not at school gyms. I'm not too sure about hotels,
but certainly convention center and related places. We got to make the
media people think people will watch it. When that happens, the media will
start calling USFA for schedules of upcoming events. Really, it's time for
the USFA to sell the sport hard.