GB’s Olympic trials will not be on TV as it stands (although the BBC have said they will be covering the European Championships that follow on). Four years ago when trials were doubling up as the Olympic test event, they were shown live on the BBC red button, while in 2014, the Commonwealth trials were shown live on Sky Sports. Last year of course, there was no coverage at all, even online, which led to the bizarre situation of large numbers of people seeing Adam Peaty’s 100m breaststroke world record via BBC Olympic Sports correspondent Nick Hope’s iPhone. It was a matter for heated debate on the pullbuoy podcast at the time.
The picture has at least changed for this year, with trials to be live streamed from Glasgow and pullbuoy podcast regular Bob Ballard slated for commentary duties alongside Ross Davenport.
Clearly that’s a step forward, but some people feel its not enough. Hence there is a petition doing the rounds to try and convince a broadcaster to carry them. Realistically there’s no chance of the situation changing for 2016, but if enough people were to sign, then just maybe a broadcaster might sit up and take notice. And there’s the nub of the matter; sports coverage is a ratings game and swimming is not a ratings winner, Olympics aside.
The petition has been going for several days, and is edging fitfully towards 3000 signatures. But that’s a drop in the ocean compared to the TV audience that would be needed to convince TV bosses to screen the sport, especially in prime time. The argument is often wheeled out that there are many, many swimmers and swimming fans around who want to watch. If that’s true and they really do want to watch, then they need to make their voices heard.