10 Ways Television Has Changed Sports


Stories Over Sports

In the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, Canadian figure skater Joannie Rochette laid down an almost flawless short program, two days after her mother died suddenly from a heart attack. She would go on to win the bronze. In 1996, Kerri Strug ensured an American gold in gymnastics over the Russian team by scoring 9.712 on her second vault -- on an ankle that then required medical treatment for third-degree lateral sprain and tendon damage. And who can forget Tonya versus Nancy in a bitter figure skating rivalry? Or Brett Favre's four touchdowns, 399 yards and passer rating of 154.9 in a Monday night football game the day after he lost his dad?

These fascinating sports stories only work if we know the players, and we can know the players better through the magical television powers of close-ups, commentary and commercials. We need Morgan Freeman's famous tear-jerking mini-profiles of Olympic athletes for VISA in 2008. We need to know that after Strug's first vault, she asked her coach, Bela Karolyi, "Do we need this?" To which he replied, "Kerri, we need you to go one more time. We need you one more time for the gold" [source: Weinberg].

TV allows us inside the lives, families and even the minds of athletes, making sports as much about personalities as it is about scores.