7. When is TV Better Than Covering Live Event?
RCS: You went to the Master’s and followed Tiger Woods. Then wrote a column describing how hard it was to follow Tiger Woods. “It sounds like a good idea, doesn't it? Follow Tiger around the Masters, watch him do his thing, soak up the atmosphere. There's only one problem with that: You can follow and you can soak, but you can't watch. Not live and in person.”
For that kind of column, in which you were writing about your experience, it makes sense to be at the event. But when does it make more sense for sports writers to watch just the televised coverage?
Doyel: What a GREAT question. And the answer is: That very day, it would have made more sense to be watching the event on TV. I was in the Tiger gallery on No. 11 when he parred the hole. Only, I thought he birdied it. Lots of us in the gallery did. We were so far away, we didn't know he had driven into the woods and spent a shot pitching out. So when he one-putted, we thought it was a birdie. Oops. And then afterward I heard that he had broken his club in the woods on that hole, and I spent 20 minutes running down that rumor before learning he had not broken it that day -- that footage of the broken club was from a previous Masters. And again, I was THERE. Incredible. Plus, I didn't realize Anthony Kim had set a Masters record that day with 11 birdies until I woke up the next morning and read it in the paper. Literally had no idea, and I'd been at the course, and even ON the course, all day. Apparently I like the ALL-CAPS function.
Still, one of the best pieces of advice a sports editor ever gave me was this: Tell readers something they don't know, or take them somewhere they can't go. (Thank you, Mike Persinger of the Charlotte Observer.) That day I tried to take readers into Tiger's gallery -- the good and bad of it.
P.S. Golf is the only sport I've ever covered where it generally pays off to NOT see the action yourself, but to watch it on TV. For every other sport, it's best to see it live ... as long as you have access to the same instant replay that your readers have. I once mocked Brian Butch of Wisconsin for being a baby -- "Cryin' Brian," I cleverly called him -- not knowing that replays had shown the dislocation of his elbow! Ouch. Readers hammered me for my insensitivity, and rightly so. I still feel really, really badly about that one.