BBC’s Olympic Hockey Coverage

The coverage of Ice Hockey during the Winter Olympics by the BBC has been the talk of those in the UK on social media.

One of the issues has been confusion over when games will be televised while not always showing the full sixty minutes or the games until completion. For example, while Slovenia were leading Slovakia 3-0 and creating history by winning their first ever game at the Winter Olympics, the BBC in their wisdom cut away from the game with five minutes remaining to show a GB Curling match which hadn’t even commenced.
I understand the need to show all things involving GB as the nation isn’t blessed with many competitors but that is just ridiculous.

The real disconnect between hockey fans has been towards the commentary provided for the BBC by Seth Bennett and Brent Pope.
The play by play from these two gentlemen seems to have split opinion on social media with very much a “marmite” love or hate attitude towards them.

Commentator Seth Bennett has been covering hockey in the UK for the last 15 years as I’m aware and according to one Twitter conversation with an individual not happy with his commentary, Seth has “coached, played and been a fan for 20 years.”

The analyst is Brent Pope, who had a playing career that lasted over twenty years. Born in Canada he played junior hockey in Ontario, and after a short stint in the ECHL he found he way his to the UK in the mid 90’s.
He’s been a part of the Cardiff Devils hockey club since 2007 and seemingly taken on every role in that organisation including coaching.

Personally my issue is not so much with the gentlemen involved as to the way it’s being presented.
The commentary neither seeming to pander to the novice or the committed hockey fan.
I would obviously prefer a mix but in reality that isn’t possible so I would prefer they pander to those perhaps watching the game for the first time.
I always believe that the commentary should add to the game, not in detriment to it or go off on a tangent and at times I find this the case.

Brent Pope has a fine hockey mind with so many years experience in the game but in the analyst role he seems to struggle to get his point across and at times rambles and over elaborates. If I become lost as to what point he’s trying to make, then how does the novice know?
The passion is there, that much is in no doubt, but the amount of errors or simply laughable statements at times made during coverage, leave me exasperated.
“Kessel is having a breakout season” just one of many errors that comes to mind from today’s game involving Russia and the USA.
Sometimes less is more and keeping things simple would perhaps be the better road to go as regards hockey coverage during these Winter Olympics.
Games like the Russia-USA encounter do the talking for themselves and only need the simple guiding hand from those with the microphone to convey and expand a little on what we can already see.

BBC hockey coverage will never please everyone but I really hope they can find the right balance moving forward, as this tournament is set to be one of the best ever.


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