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Television reigns supreme in London

Tuesday, August 7, 2012
President George Maxwell Richards and his wife Dr Jean Ramjohn Richards at the Cycling Velodrome in London. They were among the spectators cheering on Njisane Phillips to his fourth place in the cycling match sprint.
Even in London, the television is king. Yes, it is. Simply because not everyone is able to watch the Olympic Games, either in a stadium or in one of the very cold parks, where you have to be dressed to the limit, with temperatures in the range of 15 and 16 degrees celsius, with a trailing wind, added for good measure. As I looked at the crowds watching the events yesterday, particularly in cycling and athletics, I could not help but think that for most of us in T&T, the television is our best friend. On Tottenham Court Road and Oxford Circus, television sets are being sold quickly and in some cases, cheaply. Even in the hotel in London, the attendants are constantly fighting for control of the remote, since different stations are bringing different coverage. 
If there is one thing British television can teach us, it is how to market and promote our athletes so that they become household names and recognisable figures. The power of the media must never be underestimated and that is what this media blitz by the London Organising committee did well. They got the people of Britain to identify with their athletes so that by the time the Games began, the populace already knew who to look out for.
As I made my way to Olympic Park, I saw members of the public staring through glass windows, watching gymnastics, basketball, sailing, in fact just watching any and everything. For once, the English who are normally very reserved, seemed totally interested and emotional. It was similar in the media area for the athletics. Everyone was glued to different television stations, except when it came to the men’s 100-metre finals when everyone just wanted to live that special moment. For once, the station everyone was looking at was the station on which Bolt was racing. These are the moments that live with people for a lifetime, so it makes one understand just how much Great Britain as a whole has taken to this task and accepted their role as host of the largest Games in the World and set out to ensure it is a success. The media have played a significant role because UK Sport and the local organising committee have worked together, each understanding the importance of the other.
These are the lessons that T&T must learn about the importance of sport and its role in bringing a country together. Just over a year ago, there were the infamous London riots but because of the Olympics, all of that can finally be forgotten. But back to the television. In Hyde Park, there is a massive screen. Everybody wants to know what is going on and the more success for Great Britain, the more the interest is growing all the time. No one is allowed to stand near or in front of the screen. Conversation is banned and replaced by spasmodic shouts and grunts. This is a special occasion, like the World Cup. There was a time in T&T when live sport was as rare as an eclipse but cable has changed all of that. Today, it forms the wallpaper of our lives, appearing so often you almost take umbrage when there is no sport, particularly football. So the television is essential. Here, it seems to be compulsory. Great Britain is experiencing sport like it never did before. Let us hope that one day, T&T will be in a position to do the same.


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