TELESIDE, U.S.A. — Last weekend, a major cable television network with some 85 million viewers broadcast something unusual, and in an unusual way.
The NBC Sports Network broadcast a Twenty-20 cricket match from Australia.That’s unusual in and of itself; aside from the Willow television network and One World Sports, there has been precious little cricket on American television. Indeed, you probably could count the number of cricket matches on major American networks on one hand since the days of Roone Arledge.
Cricket, a very popular outdoor game played in many British commonwealth countries, is one of those sports that requires plenty of explanation because there are many baseball-like subtleties when it comes to strategy and tactics, even in a version of the game in which the equation is tipped towards scoring rather than defense. The rules and terminology could fill several volumes.
But what NBC Sports Network did not do for this broadcast was overburden it with explanatory cut-ins with Americans trying to make the sport more relatable. The bosses believed that enough people wanted to watch the game rather than an explanation of it. In short, they just allowed the Australian commentators to do their thing without even having to explain “googly” or “silly mid on.”
It’s a far cry from the way that soccer broadcasts were overexplained in the 70s, when everything about goalies using their hands to the fact that “out of bounds” means “into touch.”
In contrast, the British have always used an economy of words during a buildup to a soccer goal: “Good run here … the pass … it’s THERE!!!”
I think it’s a lesson that could be learned when it comes to exposing field hockey to the masses.