Athens, GA (Oct 21, 2008) - For amateur athletes, one of their biggest dreams is to compete for their country in the Olympics. For people like Marian Mozingo, a student the University of Georgia Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, the dream is to cover events like the Olympic Games. Her dream came true this past August, as she writes in this column that was originally published on the Grady College web site. Special thanks to the author and the Grady College for allowing us to reprint her article.
My Excellent Adventure in Olympic Sports Broadcasting
By Marian Mozingo
Last summer, I had a crazy idea--I wanted to go to the Olympics!
During my internship with Lincoln Financial Sports (now Raycom Sports), I began to understand that in the broadcasting world, everybody knows everybody. I figured the Raycom guys were sure to have an Olympic contact. Sure enough, they put me in touch with a previous intern who went to the Torino Winter Olympics for NBC. Long story short, I learned I had just missed the deadline for the NBC Olympic internship.
I was completely heartbroken. The day I got the e-mail saying I had missed the deadline, I was in the Butts-Mehre Building where I work for UGA Sports Communications. My boss, Claude Felton, walked by and I told him what had happened. He asked, "Have you talked to Mark Parkman?" I learned that Parkman was a student assistant back in the 80's and now works directly with broadcasting the Olympics.
Once again I had hope! So I sent off my resume and, in a strange twist of fate, learned that Parkman would soon be in Athens and would interview me then. After completely intimidating me, he offered me the job and I was on my way to Beijing in early August!
I was one of about 50 college students from throughout the world to work for the host broadcaster, Beijing Olympic Broadcasting, also known as "BOB." BOB was responsible for producing more than 53,000 hours of Olympic coverage for over 200 broadcasters throughout the world who televised the Games to 4.7 billion people. BOB sets up all the sky cams and track cams, hires the steady cam cameramen, and is the main source for Olympic coverage.
Everything that wasn't shown live is what I worked on. I was in the electronic news gathering (ENG) department, also known as summary of the games department. We worked in teams of three. I worked with a Chinese cameraman named Lui and a Chinese logger named Daniel (a logger keeps the time code and brief summary of what is being taped).
Lui and Daniel spoke broken English. I translated their broken English to English speakers when they had questions and they translated my nearly non-existent Chinese into Chinese when I had questions! We had a great time and worked well together.
I was mainly in charge of audio and worked as a general field producer. I made sure we got all the shots we needed and got to where we needed to be on time. We went to tennis, archery, table tennis, water polo, etc. to shoot games for smaller countries that couldn't send a crew, but still wanted to show event highlights, or bigger countries that didn't think the event warranted live coverage.
Photograph Courtesy of Marian Mozingo
I will never be able to watch the Olympics the same again. I think the coolest part for me was to realize that literally the whole world works together to bring the world the Olympics! There was a different country in charge of producing each event. For instance, Belgium was in charge of the marathon races and cycling races, Brazil was in charge of beach volleyball and the Americans produced basketball.
I talked my way into riding in the car that follows the marathon runners through the race. Not only did I get to see the crew shoot footage and be directed by the producer live, but I was able to see parts of Beijing I hadn't seen! We drove through the gardens of the Forbidden City and by Tiananmen Square.
The Beijing Olympics were captured entirely in high definition - a first for the Olympics. They also used special cameras called "low-angle high-def" cameras. These cameras took some of the most beautiful shots I've ever seen. You could see the skin move when the runners ran, or each tiny grain of sand fly up when a long-jumper landed. These cameras shot so much detail that many of the "race walkers" were caught breaking the rules. Race walking is only valid if one foot is constantly on the ground and these cameras caught many walkers "running" when both feet were off the ground.
Even though I worked some incredibly long hours, I did manage to see at least bits and pieces of events. I had an "infinity pass," which meant my credential got me into any venue (except Michael Phelps' finals which were almost impossible to get into).
I saw the first half of the China vs. USA men's basketball game and tennis by Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, James Blake and Venus Williams. I watched Jamaica's Usain Bolt win the 200 meter final, and Americans Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhouser win gold in beach volleyball. Incredible!
But I think one of the coolest parts was seeing some of my friends from the University of Georgia swimming and diving teams. How often do you have friends compete in the Olympics? I had five! I felt so honored to see them compete in what will no doubt be their biggest achievement in their sport.
Many people have said to me, "What a once-in-a-lifetime experience!" But actually, I hope to make it a once-every-four-years experience. I'm already plotting how I can be in London in 2012.
But no matter what the future holds, I'll forever be indebted to the Grady College. Without its help, I would never have been able to go to Beijing. I also want to thank Grady alumnus Dick Yarbrough (who coincidentally was communications director for the Atlanta Olympics) for his gracious contribution to the Student Support Fund and his willingness to help Grady students who are given such great opportunities.
Otherwise, that "crazy idea" I had would have been just that.
About The Author
Marian Mozingo is a 21-year-old broadcast news and English major from Concord, N.C. She expects to graduate in May 2009. Her future plans are to work in something television and sports media-related.
As noted earlier, this was originally published on the Grady College web site.