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Judo/Sambo UnderGround >> Miami World Cup on Versus thoughts and review


9/1/10 8:34 PM
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OCJudoTrngCtr
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Edited: 09/01/10 9:08 PM
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  I was able to watch the first 45 minutes of the Miami World Cup on Versus with my co-workers at the office. I viewed the last 1:15 at my home.

At my office, the competition on the 4 other screens were  Bloomberg TV, 2 TV's tuned to CNBC, The Phillies-Dodger game.  There were 14 people in the room.

Before anything, I want to say that if you are a judoka, you are going to be real pleased with the production values of this broadcast.  Mike Swain did color commentary, along with Todd Harris, whom I was previously unfamiliar with. Mr. Harris was confident and prepared. I thought Swain did an outstanding job, enabling those not familiar with judo to better understand the dynamics of what was happening in a match. Swain also did a quick demonstration of the ways to win a judo match.

As for the camera work on the field of play, it was beyond excellent.  As much as I truly appreciate the webcasts that IJF does for the Grand Prix and Grand Slam events...and I think they've done them very well for the most part.....well, they are amateurs compared to a USA network.  Say what you will, but when it comes to sports coverage, nobody does it better than America's broadcast and cable networks.

The Versus Channel included some brief interviews with several USA Judo athletes, and I think they all did pretty well.  I thought Marti Malloy came across as the most personable.  Versus also included some bronze medal highlights of Larsen and Eldred, and briefly showed footage of Travis Stevens.  At the end of the show there were some nice highlights as well.

Prior to seeing the event on Versus, I was well aware that ticket sales were anemic for the Miami World Cup.  The camera work made it look like a full house, with the exceptions when they showed earlier match coverage in the prelims when introducing a competitor.

Make no mistake about it. This whole event is a big win for USA Judo.  If the IJF takes a look at how well the Versus Channel covered the sport, they have a gameplan for future coverage of their events. USA Judo has an outstanding 2 hour program showcasing their sport to the American public. Its core membership should be proud and invigorated with the presentation and entertainment value it had for judokas.  If you hear any judoka complain about this broadcast, please direct them to the nearest physician to get a prescription for Prozac...extra strength.

But, it was a different experience watching it with people who were not familiar with the rules of the sport. All of my coworkers know I'm a fanatic, and many of them wanted to watch just to see what I was so obsessed with. I have a few observations, not in any way empirical, but I think they do give some insights into some issues with growing the sport.

A few things about my co-workers. Everyone is fairly successful, and the age group is from 25-75. There were 12 men and 2 women. The two women did not really pay attention. About 1/2 of the guys are MMA fans (younger guys) .  Nearly everyone is a sports fan.  If its Summer Olympics, Baseball, NCAA basketball, Winter Olympics (I've watched more curling than a man should admit to), World Cup Soccer, etc. at least one TV is focused on sports (or car chases, which have become an American sport as well).

The first match with Jeannette Rodriguez (USA) against the Korean player had their full attention. Immediately, everyone is on Jeannette's side.  The Korean player scores an early waza-ari.  Here's the surprising things to me.

I thought that the penalties would make them question what was going on, but the Korean not attacking actually ticked them off.  When the Korean penaltied out, the guy next to me asked what happened, and I told him. To quote the gentleman's response "Good. F____ that B___, she didn't want to fight at all".  Completely ignoring the fact that the Korean had the only throwing score in the match.

However, they did not understand , why Jeannette did not get a score when she threw her with o-uchi, but the Korean landed on her stomach. Same guy asks "What does she get for that?", I told him "Nothing because she didn't land on her side or back."  His reply was "That's stupid".

The young guys didn't really get why they didn't spend more time fighting on the ground. I guess they are so used to it in MMA, they were hoping to see some subs.  To his credit, Swain kept emphasizing that in groundwork, you had to be very fast or the referees would stand you up. They were a little confused by the on screen scoring, though it seemed self explanatory to me.

Another surprise, was that Jeannette's match had fairly aggressive grip fighting, and they actually kind of got how tough that really is.

The 90kg match, they liked the tomoenage's, but I could see that their attention was starting to wear thin. By Bossyou's match they were more focused on the Dodgers. Then it was time to go home and watch the event at home.

I wish they could have seen the Malloy match. That had the drama and spectacular ending that makes sport so endearing and memorable for us all.

I remember about 20 years ago, my boss watched a documentary which had Yamashita walking to the 84 Olympics finals match in utter agony, barely able to stand, and then watch him take out the much larger Egyptian in a way that looked effortless.  It really impressed him. He told me about it the next working day, and thought Yamashita was pretty amazing.  Well, I guess most people could make that observation about Yamashita, but it was great to hear someone outside of the judo world say it.

What I am going to be interested in learning over the next several days, weeks, and months is this. How many viewers will be encouraged to walk into the dojos because of this program? It will have to repeat several times for it to gain traction, but if any of you guys can relate your dojo's experience and update this thread, I'd appreciate it.

In some ways, I'm encouraged about the potential for judo to translate from the mat, to the tv, to the viewer. I do think, they will have to change a few things about the rules to make that translation.

But all in all,  I'm real happy with what USA Judo and Versus Channel did with the MIami World Cup. I should add that though I've been critical of some IJF actions in the past, I think it was some forward thinking in bringing a World Cup to the USA, and all three of them should be congratulated.




 
9/1/10 9:38 PM
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judoblackbelt
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What is missing is prelims highlights. They never onced mentioned how many judokas they beat to get to the finals or showed clips of their prelim wins. Judo is hard to watch/appreciate if you don't understand. All the grip fighting makes it like a sword fight with your hands. Maybe it is better to show more fights with clip highlights ( (like the dvds we buy) then the entire matches. Too much for the general public. No footage of Garry St Ledger? Or Nick Delpopolo, should of. The 100K Russian's (2) tomanages of Brazil's Leanardo Leite was spectacular.
9/1/10 9:59 PM
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JohnSerbin
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 Watching from beginning to end, I liked the production a lot. I thought Mike did a great job commentating as well as interviewing.

I don't envy the production people who had to choose the order of the competition everyone would view. I think Marti's match was the best match hands down. Even as I saw the tournament live, I thought that Marti's match was a great match. Where the production company placed the match in the show was real important. If it was at the beginning, the rest of the matches would have been anti-climatic in comparison. If it was at the end viewers might have moved on without ever getting to see it. So the middle placement of the match seemed appropriate. 

The USA girls shined at this USA World Cup, but our men are making serious headway in the world too. There are some serious rivalries in the mens divisions that are forcing the men to raise their levels in the US and the World. 

I hope everyone that watches the event lets the Versus channel know how much they liked it and that they want to see more. 

I too noticed the lack of time given by the referees for newaza. It's been the story for as long as I can remember. Referees prefer tachiwaza. I noticed the same thing when I watched the last Olympics online. 
9/1/10 10:27 PM
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OCJudoTrngCtr
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 John, you touch on a subject that doesn't get to much mention on this forum. There is so much potential in this USA Judo Women's Team.

Beginning with Kayla, Marti, Jeannette and Katelyn, you have a core of 4 young athletes who can be fighting for hardware through 2016, and some of them into 2020.  I would not be surprised to see Kayla medal in Tokyo.




9/2/10 11:18 AM
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JohnSerbin
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 I think there is a lot of potential on both sides. With the new Olympic qualifier system US athletes are traveling a lot more and getting experience around the world. 
9/2/10 7:53 PM
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JoshuaResnick
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the only thing they should've done that they did not.....

show the preliminary highlights from the two days... it didnt even have to say who the players were or their weights.. just a highlight like a 101 ippons of people getting slammed, subbed, pinned, etc from the 2 days.

they did a tiny bit of it, but not enough. i know there were lots of ippon wins over the 2 days, i think that would've been a good way to break to commercials, or return from them.
9/2/10 10:56 PM
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OCJudoTrngCtr
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 I think if all the matches had been as exciting as Marti Malloy's match, nobody would be talking about highlights.

Let's be brutally honest. All sports, not just judo, the highlights are great.  Every day, the news channels take about 35 hours of baseball, and make an excellent 2-3 minutes of highlights.  You can even make an exciting minute highlight out of soccer's World Cup.

When all is said and done, you will eventually have to tell the truth.  For some, nine innings of  baseball, every day from Spring through Summer and early Fall, captures their imagination. For others, four quarters of football,  or basketball is a passion.  The fastest growing sport in the world is MMA, and once a month or more, people are paying more than $40 to watch 4-5 fights that pique their interest.

Those fan watch the good, the bad, the boring, and the ugly of it all. They keep coming back to watch it again and again.  If judo is ever to be a spectator sport, people will have to sit through the good, bad, boring and ugly as well.....if they want to see those moments that inspire us.

What Versus did is show what the truth of competition judo is.....in the best possible light.

As I alluded to in my first post, if the IJF is serious about wanting to increase the appeal of judo as a spectator sport, they will have to make some changes.
9/3/10 6:11 PM
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JoshuaResnick
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i do agree...

but i also just took my team of HS kids, who love wrestling, to a Judo tournament and they were amazed. they couldnt believe the speed of things as they happened. even a boring judo match has lots of action compared to HS wrestling-- we just dont give points for a lot of things that would score in HS wrestling or BJJ...

those sports have a fan base greater than Judo in the USA for two seperate reasons... wrestling because it is in schools and has a potential future and bjj because it is on tv and is cool.

for judo to get into schools is a long shot unless a lot of people decide to do what i am doing at Estancia and coach wrestling with a year-round off-season Judo program. for Judo to do what BJJ is doing is not so hard, but it would take an organized effort like what we just saw, only making it even better. that's where flash highlights come in.
9/3/10 10:35 PM
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OCJudoTrngCtr
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Edited: 09/03/10 10:35 PM
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 Joshua,

Taking your wrestling students to see the Golden State Open was an excellent idea. They got to see what a judo tournament is all about.  That's sort of what the Versus Miami World Cup did.  Not only was it for the core USA Judo enthusiast, but it was to introduce competition judo to their audience.

I think the greatest marketing DVD ever made for judo was the original "101 Ippons".  I don't know anyone who wasn't impressed by it.  But if you went to a judo tournament expecting to see "101 Ippons" you'd be disappointed.

My point is that I don't look at the Versus presentation of "Miami World Cup" as  a program to market judo. I see it as sports coverage of the biggest USA Judo tournament of the last 14 years (1996 Olympics being the last A or better event).  

Within that context, I can't think of a better way to introduce the Versus spectator to the reality of current elite judo competition, and some of the top athletes of USA Judo.  As a judo fan, I thought the production values were far in excess of any other offerings I've seen.

I will tell you that I'm in agreement with you guys about creating content that could be used to promote the sport better.  There are judo people with Hollywood credentials that could probably make that happen if USA Judo could allocate the funding.  Ali Moghadas comes to mind as a great candidate.



 
9/6/10 1:50 AM
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JoshuaResnick
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i couldnt agree with you more.
9/7/10 2:04 AM
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leothelion
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 I thought the presentation was great...anytime Judo gets on TV the better....

Observations:   I was pleased that the refs where enforcing the stalling rules.... alot of drama....great matches...the girls really kicked ass....

I was curious how the refs would enforce the new rules regarding leg attacks....during the match with the two big russian judoka I saw one fighter score with a leg attack...In the US...I know judoka who have been bounced from the match by merely "brushing" the leg during an attack... anyway I guess I have to learn the rules better...

although I like the fast pace judo game...along with Mike Swain, I might add, I would like to see more time for the fighters to initiate newaza...

US Judo did a great job...can't wait for the next time...




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