Follow the Pac-12 to Rio: Broadcasting
SAN FRANCISCO (August 4, 2016) - It’s time to follow the Pac-12 to Rio! Leading into the 2016 Olympic Games, Pac-12 Networks Insider will profile its on-air talent with Olympic ties. Whether they’re broadcasters, competitors or have accomplished both feats, we have you covered.
This week, Pac-12 Networks Insider features broadcasting veterans Ted Robinson and Jason Knapp.
- Third Olympic games as a broadcaster
- Sport assignments: wrestling, beach volleyball
On how he prepares for the Olympics...
“I always want to dive in and get research. NBC has exhaustive research of info, but that’s just to get started. You also get into players and coaches if you’re onsite. If you’re not and doing things remotely, you’re going about phone conversations with coaches and players and trying to pick brains. Then, there’s the day-to-day action and trying to find new things when we’re there in Rio to pick up what’s different. Beach seems like it will be fun because it’s fast. Wrestling, I have a great database already. Relying on sources and talking to people, trying to find good stories and tell stories well. A lot of these athletes - this is really the one time they get to shine in front of the largest audience they’ll ever see.”
On his notable Olympic memories...
“The first two I did were off-site. For London, I was in New York City, and for Sochi I was in Stamford at their headquarters. For me, the first Olympic experience I had was the first day of London was archery. The U.S. team upset South Korea in the semifinals to go to the gold medal match against Italy. It came down to the last arrow, and the guy needed a 10 from Italy to beat the U.S. and he got it. It was thrilling.”
- Tenth Olympic games as a broadcaster
- Sport assignment: diving
On his first Olympic games...
“My first Olympics was in 1998 in Nagano, Japan. I was working for CBS at the time, and I actually asked the executive producer. Thinking that this was CBS’ last games, it was a lame duck games for them. I asked if there was a role, and I assumed it was one-and-done for me. I called four different sports there. It was thrilling, but also crazy. I was thrown on a primetime show of snowboarding with six hours notice because of unforeseen scheduling circumstances. It was the experience that removes fear. Once you get through that, nothing locks you up. I worked freestyle skiing (moguls, aerials), short track speed skating and snowboarding. The United States won five gold medals that year, and I called three of the five.”
On broadcasters appealing to both new and niche fans...
“When covering the Olympic sports, you have to understand that most of the people watching are watching this only in the Olympic games. Most of the sports, like diving, are only on television in the Olympic year. So, people watch once every four years. They don’t know it intimately. Your broadcast partner does know it intimately. Your analyst is there because he or she knows the sport at the highest level. As the host/PXP person, you’re supposed to set the table and explain how the competition is structured and how winners are decided, how the scoring is done, how many rounds and then who the divers are. My analyst is there to explain the dive and explain what makes it good, average or poor. Ultimately, the responsibility for me is to make people care. Especially when the competition comes down to the end.”
On his most memorable Olympic call…
“The most memorable single Olympic call was in Salt Lake City in 2002 for short track speed skating. It was a thrilling environment with a sold out crowd. Apolo Ohno was the breakout star, and this was his first games. In 2002, short track was a newer sport and people were figuring out what the sport was. The Koreans had a group of excellent skaters. In this one race, this Korean star and Apolo were head to head as the two guys to watch. In the final race, it’s 5 men doing 9 laps, with the first person across the line wins gold. They came around the final turn, and another Korean skater tried to make an inside pass and bumps Apollo and they both go down and slide into the other skaters. The fifth skater, an Australian, was not even a medal contender but was so far behind the other four that he missed the crash. The four went down, and he skated right through and won the gold medal. It was the first gold medal that Australia had won in the winter games.