By Doug Halberstadt
It must be pretty cool to be Andrew Olson from Rockford, this week. In case you missed it, a question he submitted to professional bowler Jason Belmonte was used and aired live during the television broadcast of the GEICO Mark Roth Plastic Ball Championship on ESPN last Sunday afternoon, March 28.
There I was, sitting in my recliner, channel surfing between the NCAA basketball tournament, a rain-delayed NASCAR race and the Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour. That’s when I heard Olson’s name and Rockford, Ill., mentioned by ESPN play-by-play announcer Rob Stone. Stone posed Olson’s question to Belmonte about whether he had an advantage using his two-handed style with the plastic ball over the traditional one-handed-style bowlers.
Belmonte then stared intently into the television camera and answered Olson’s question like he was talking directly to him.
Stone and his broadcast partner Randy Pedersen experimented with the on-air player communications idea during last summer’s GEICO PBA Team Shootout hosted by Six Flags. Players wore an earpiece and microphone, which enabled them to communicate with the announcers while competition was under way. The interaction allowed the announcers to ask the bowlers about their equipment choices, strategies and adjustments employed during the matches.
The live interaction between fans and bowlers was introduced by ESPN earlier this season. “During the PBA World Series of Bowling, fans were able to get inside the minds of the greatest players on the planet,” said Pedersen, a 13-time tour titlist. “We heard the player’s unique insights, strategies, adjustments and more. Now, we are taking that feature one step further by allowing PBA fans to chip in with a question live on ESPN.” Rockford’s Olson was that lucky fan this week.
I hope he was watching!
From the March 31-April 6, 2010 issue