I have been trying to get my thoughts together on my next big blog post, but I am experiencing writer’s block at the moment. Maybe writing about something completely different will break that funk.
Anyway, I am looking at big sabre bouts on YouTube every day now, and the one I just looked at set the standard that all other TV broadcasters/producers/people in charge should look at, and emulate. The event was the recent final of the Men’s Sabre Team event at the Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia. Here we are:
The match was a bit more even that I had expected – 45-32 – in no small part due to a spirited performance by Ali Pakdaman of Iran. Of special interest to sabre coaches and fencers: it is obvious what large importance the South Koreans put to hip flexibility. My prediction is that that will shape sabre fencing around the world in the near future, to the extent that it has not already started to do so.
As an aside: After looking at this team match, I think that coaches of underdog teams in sabre team matches – especially in poule matches – would be well served to consider the example of the 1984 chess World Championship, and learn from it. Why? That I leave as an exercise for the reader, but it should not be impossible to figure out for the reader who is both perceptive and able to draw analogies between disparate things.
So what makes this such a good broadcast? Lots of different things, which put together show a overall mindset of attention to detail. In no particular order, here are some of the things that I liked about this broadcast:
- Camera view shows the referee, but in the background. From that view, both the fencers and the referee can be seen well by the spectator.
- Almost all phrases shown in instant slo-mo. Sabre is a fast sport, the total elapsed time fencing for a whole team match is quite probably less than 3 minutes. Given that about 41 minutes elapsed from the start of the match until its end, there is ample time for replay.
- Calm blue background. Lack of distractions makes it easier to focus on the important part, the fencing itself.
- Just the right amount of team coverage. Some broadcasts show the teams in their team boxes a bit too much. While that make for more “human drama”, or whatever the buzzword is, the drama on the piste is more interesting. This coverage should be kept limited so as to work as a spice, not an ingredient. The TV crew struck the right balance here.
- Color commentary. The feed that I looked at had Korean commentary, and those two guys were really into it. That really adds to the overall TV experience, even if one does not know a lick of Korean.
In my opinion, the quality of fencing coverage on TV started to take off around the 2010 and 2011 World Championships, and this has been yet another step forward. Let us see whether the next organizers of big fencing events manage to match up to this standard, or improve upon it! Given that the 2019 World Championships are going to be held in Budapest, one can hope so.