FT. WORTH, Texas – ESPN’s commitment to the sport of gymnastics began long before NCAA Championship coverage flips on from the Fort Worth Convention Center this afternoon (Semi I – 1 p.m. ET, ESPN2).
But what ESPN coordinating producer Meg Aronowitz and her team have introduced in the past few years with regard to innovation has brought both the casual viewer and the “gymternet” (what gymnastics superfans are called online) into the fold where there is something for everyone.
For example, the ever-popular “Tech Tools” bring the impressive technique and skill of the gymnasts into perspective for the viewer. The tools not only educate fans who are new to the sport but serves as a way for gymnastics superfans to speculate on scores and deductions from judges.
The “Tech Tools” featured in ESPN2 and ESPNU’s coverage from Fort Worth will include height and distance markers on vault (as seen above), protractors for body angle on bars, the bars height grid and the split-o-meter on beam (as seen in the gallery below).
ESPN will once again show every single routine on every apparatus at the NCAA Gymnastics Championships, with a separate commentator assigned to every live stream.
The Stream Team consists of four U.S. Olympians providing expert commentary and analysis for their respective events. In addition to the four apparatus-specific streams, ESPN3’s all-around channel returns so viewers can see every routine on all four apparatus in a quad-box format.
The apparatus streams, found on ESPN3 and the ESPN App, feature ESPN gymnastics analysts and Olympians Alicia Sacramone Quinn (vault), Bridget Sloan (bars) and three-time Olympian John Roethlisberger (floor), as well as ESPN newcomer Samantha Peszek (beam), who was Sacramone Quinn and Sloan’s 2008 Olympic teammate in Beijing. Viewers are being encouraged to tweet questions to the quartet using #NCAAStreamTeam to be answered live throughout the competition.
ESPN introduced new scoring graphics with enhanced scoring breakdowns in 2018, cycling overall team totals, individual averages and team differentials to inform viewers and provide even greater insight into both the team race and technical aspects of each routine. Those graphics will be part of ESPN’s coverage from Fort Worth.
“Between the streams, tech tools and scoring graphics, along with 20 cameras in venue, we have every angle covered this weekend,” Aronowitz said.“When we say that you can watch every routine on every apparatus, we mean it. You can watch every single second of the meet as if you were actually in Fort Worth. This group works incredibly hard and I couldn’t be more proud of the opportunity we have this weekend, on the biggest stage in college gymnastics, to show how ESPN does this best.”