By Katie Volpentesta — 

The COVID-19 crisis has forced one sports television crew that normally does 100 home games a semester, to only do 14 this fall.

Over the past several months, the University of Louisville’s sports broadcasting department has made some necessary changes to safely broadcast all U of L home sports events. U of L’s ACC Network, the team responsible for all sports broadcast production at the university, has taken precautions and is doing their best to combat the uncertainty regarding college sports today.

Like most companies and organizations, ACCN is taking extra steps to ensure of the safety of their staff.

“We have changed to a full mask policy, taking temperatures when crew arrives, staggered crew calls and face shields,” said Bobby Blankenship, ACCN’s Assistant Director of TV Production. “We’re lucky because our control rooms are already very large, so it allows some positions to naturally social distance.”

In a normal year, home games would already be underway. This year, however, the first home game is on Sept. 12.

Game schedules have been cut down as much as possible, leaving only fourteen home broadcasts this fall. Last year, there were about 100 home broadcasts in the fall semester—a completely different dynamic for those who work at ACCN.

With fluctuating COVID-19 case numbers, U of L and ACCN have to be prepared to continue with or cancel broadcasts in situations where employees or their family members get sick with COVID.

“[If] they aren’t able to work based on temp/self-health assessment, we have a plan for their backup or how you do a broadcast with a camera down or a replay operator down,” Executive Director of TV Production, Jeremy Noe said.

Additionally, ACCN is working to limit personnel on-site at games this fall.

“For the first time ever, we will be producing football national broadcasts from our facility here on campus,” Noe said. “We have been deep diving into what it takes to do not only a football big screen show, but also putting out a quality football broadcast out of our facility all the while staying safe and healthy for our crew members.”

By creating new fiber paths, testing camera locations, and updating hardware and software, ACCN can do their best to create a broadcast just as successful as pre-COVID-19 broadcasts.

Despite the difficulties and uncertainties, Noe, Blankenship and the rest of U of L’s ACC Network continue to have a positive outlook.

“We don’t see any policies related to COVID-19 sticking after the pandemic,” Blankenship said. Like all of us, ACCN looks forward to putting the days of COVID-19 behind them.

Photo by Katie Volpentesta // The Louisville Cardinal

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