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How should TV channels handle legal attacks?

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During a three-decade career as a prominent ESPN play-by-play broadcaster, Dave Pasch says he was on the mic during two college basketball games that ended in a catch assault on the ground. One of them happened earlier this month when he was unranked. LSU upsets Kentucky as time expired at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Pasch recalled this week a conversation he and analyst Jay Williams had with a LSU athletic department staff member before the game.

“We asked if they beat Kentucky, will they storm the court? Pasch said. “He said to me, ‘No, we’re not storming the field here. We already beat Kentucky. Well, they won on that crazy last-second shot and, of course, they stormed the field.

In the final sequence of the game, you can clearly hear Williams say, “Didn’t we talk today about whether LSU had the right protocol in place for a legal storm?” as ESPN cameras broadcast a wide shot of LSU fans pouring onto the field.

The issue of court attacks went national this week after Waking up forest fans ran onto the floor of the Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum after a victory Duke SATURDAY. Cameras caught video of several fans making contact with the Duke star Kyle Filipowski, who ended up limping off the field, prompting Duke coach Jon Scheyer, furious at a postgame news conference, to ask, “When are we going to ban attacks on the field?” Last month, Iowa star Caitlin Clark collided with an Ohio State fan after the Buckeyes upset about Hawk eyes in Columbus, Ohio.

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ESPN producer Eric Mosley and director Mike Roig estimate they have worked on 16 to 18 college games in which one team’s fans stormed a field. A number of these legal storms occurred when a team played perennial heavyweights Duke, Kansas or Kentucky at home. Roig coached Arkansas’ 80-75 win over Duke on Nov. 29, and you can see the wide shot cut by Roig as fans flocked to the Bud Walton Arena floor.

Mosley said production planning for legal attacks happens well before tip time. ESPN’s production teams conduct a search beforehand to find a safe location where their reporters and camera operators can interview a winning coach and player. Directors such as Roig hold meetings hours before games with camera operators to go over protocol and various scenarios, including storming a field. The camera setup is such that viewers potentially have access to many entry points. For a regular season college basketball game, there are typically five unmanned rigid and robotic cameras. These are located in places away from the crowds. Next, there are three handheld cameras operated by operators located on the baselines and center field. (The Wake Forest-Duke aerial camera got the best picture of what happened to Filipowski.)

“One of the first questions we ask when we go out there with the (sports information director) for certain games is if there is an appetite for a field storming or if security permits,” Mosley said. “We find out where the student section is and what the security situation is there. We ask where can we find our cameras and reporters to meet with a coach and star player for that post-game interview? We try to get ahead of these kinds of things as early as possible because we don’t want to find ourselves in a position where our people like Holly Rowe, Jess Sims, Kris Budden and our camera operators are not safe. We don’t want them to be trapped and trampled. For the most part, we did pretty well. »

The play-by-play broadcaster for the Duke-Arkansas game was Dan Shulman, who estimates he has called 20 to 25 games involving on-field attacks during his career as an ESPN broadcaster. (Shulman is also the television voice of the Toronto Blue Jays.)

“As funny as they looked on TV, I was always worried about what might happen,” Shulman said. “I remember storming the field at a Louisville-Charlotte game that I was doing, and Doris Burke, who was the sideline reporter for the game, was trying to get an interview with the Charlotte coach, and I was concerned for his safety. It was complete chaos on the field.

“Every time there is a storming of the courts, it is difficult for us, around our table, to really see what is happening. All we can really see are the people closest to our table. Sometimes the student section can be behind our broadcast venue, so knowing they’re heading to court can obviously be a little disconcerting when trying to navigate a broadcast. I think most people in television hope that when this happens it will all be a lot of fun and no one will get hurt. There is no doubt that it is a good visual on television, appreciated by many viewers. But for me, the risk outweighs the reward.


Wake Forest fans returned to their field after Saturday’s victory. The injury to Duke’s Kyle Filipowski has reignited discussions around court attacks. (Grant Halverson/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

Bob Fishman agrees with Shulman. Fishman retired from CBS Sports last year after 50 years of employment between CBS News and CBS Sports and directed 39 NCAA men’s Final Fours, including Michael Jordan’s game-winning shot in the NCAA title game. 1982 and State of North CarolinaIt was Houston’s surprise the following year. Fishman said he had thought a lot recently about storming the field and would never tell a cameraman to run onto the field during such an attack, making sure he took up a position under the basket and he filmed what he could.

“I’m pretty firm on what should be done, I think — you can’t ignore it,” Fishman said. “It’s not like a streaker who crosses the field during a football match, which we don’t show. I think we have to show it because it’s part of the story and especially now that players have been injured. The way I would do it is to cast some sort of wide shot, maybe from a rear camera or a high beauty camera as we call it. Then I made sure my cameras in the field recorded everything and that information was fed into a tape recorder. I would never put that on the air. But I think you have to show something, which I think would be an ambitious goal.

Broadcasters and production teams, especially in 24-hour news outlets like ESPN, must follow the story to its conclusion, whether they are broadcast live or not.

“We have to keep in mind that documentation continues even when we’re not on the air,” Mosley said. “We need to treat this like news. For example, some of Filipowski’s stuff happened after the team had already signed and the network had moved to another game. We are repeatedly taught and told that we have to stay there and document this long as possible. That’s because someone is going to look for this stuff.

Mosley and Roig say they often think about how to document a legal attack without glorifying the action.

“That’s a tough question to answer,” Roig said. “You document it and you glamorize it at the same time. As a director you walk that line. As directors, we’re always taught that when a person enters the field, you don’t show them. Because more people will if you show them. It’s wide and far. But it’s a bit of a different animal, isn’t it? We’re talking about hundreds and hundreds of people coming to the field. …You are blurring the lines of the documentation or glorifying it. You have to have the mindset to document it, but at the same time you have to be careful about how you document it.

During a segment on ESPN’s “First Take” Monday, longtime ESPN college basketball commentator Jay Bilas criticized sports broadcasters glorifying court-storming .

“Years ago, when fans would rush the field during a game, the network policy was not to show it because we didn’t want to encourage it,” Bilas said. “So what does this tell us about how we in the media use these images today? We cannot deny that we encourage it. Or at least I tacitly approve of it. Everyone must accept some responsibility in this regard. I don’t think it’s a good thing to allow this, but I know it’s going to continue.”

Roig said: “It’s a really tricky point because as directors, it’s a great scene, isn’t it? You want to highlight it. But I’ve never had one until I saw last week’s game (with Wake Forest-Duke) where it got to a point where it wasn’t fun anymore.

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(Photo from the top of the stage after Saturday’s Duke-Wake Forest game: Cory Knowlton / USA Today)



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