Televisions Distort the Difficulty of Sport


I find that televisions can easily distort the difficulty of sport. Watching a sport on TV can make it look easy, when in reality the sport is a lot more challenging than the impression you get from your couch. I’m going to use cricket and badminton as case studies as these are both sports I enjoy playing and watching.

Firstly, I’ll start of with cricket. In international fixtures many bowlers can bowl 90mph+ (145kph+), which on television doesn’t look that big a deal. A batsman might play a bad shot or get out and we’ll criticise him from the comfort of our home. What we don’t realise is how fast the ball was actually travelling and how little reaction time the batsman had. The ball travels extremely quickly at international level and on TV it appears to be shown in slow motion, although it isn’t. (I have no idea what is going on, but I know the pace of the ball is being distorted).

I know the ball travels a lot quicker than shown on TV for two reasons. Firstly I have been lucky enough to watch live cricket and it is much harder to sight the ball at the stadium then it is on the TV. Secondly I play a bit of cricket myself. I am at no particular standard but I enjoy playing as a hobby. I face bowlers who ball around 60-70mph and have a jolly difficult time playing the ball, because there is a lot of pace on it. In the nets I can just about see the ball, but on TV it looks as if there is more reaction time for a faster delivery. And we all know this isn’t true.

My second case study is badminton. I like my badminton, but am unfortunately not the fittest, hence the hardest part of the game for me can often be moving around the court. Moving around the court is extremely tiring, but it does not appear so on TV. Due to the court appearing much smaller on the TV and immaculate footwork from the players it seems really easily to get around and the only difficult thing seems like playing the shots, but this isn’t the case.

The purpose of this post was just to allude you to the fact that TVs distort sport and make the sport look a lot easier to play than it really is. After writing this I’m now thinking is it just the TV that distorts the game, or is it the TV and the level of the sportsmen that we see on TV that make the sport look easier than it is. I would be interested to hear your feedback.

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5 Responses to Televisions Distort the Difficulty of Sport

  1. Teepee12 says:

    Part of it is the foreshortening effect of cameras. For example, the distance between bases on a diamond looks a lot less than the 90 feet it is. A throw from the outfield doesn’t look nearly as long or difficult as it is. You have to know the sport you’re watching to appreciate it. I suspect that has always been true, but I grant you television does make seeing the nuances more difficult.

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