At the Four Continents Championship in Vancouver last month I saw the Ã¢â‚¬ËœSkate BugÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ for the first time. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a radio device that connects listeners with live event commentary. One part fits in your ear; the other part is hand held. With the Skate Bug, listeners can get real-time event commentaryÃ¢â‚¬â€œeven more detailed than those watching the event on TV at homeÃ¢â‚¬â€œand can even ask questions about elements or scoring via text message during the event. The device is meant to make figure skating more understandable and fan friendly, according to this article in the Vancouver Sun.
It’s kind of like a real-time tutorial in your ear. I remember watching figure skating on the BBC during the 2002 Olympics. The eloquent commentators did an astonishingly good job of articulating the nuances of the sport and the judging system. This was critical, as the Beeb’s audience probably only sees figure skating once every four years. I often feel that this is an explanation failure of North American coverage of the sport–the hosts assume that their audience know more than they do.
Apparently Skate Canada is offering this device directly, as a means of recruiting new fans to the sport. In their press release, they say they’re introducing “a new multimedia tool at Skate Canada events”. That’s a misnomer, isn’t it? I mean, it only offers the one media.
The next step would be to offer the feed in stream audio, so that neophyte fans at home could tune in. And it’s easy to imagine that these could be offered for other sports, too. The first time I go to a cricket game, for example, I could seriously benefit from one of these.