From the courts, bleachers, and even the comfort of one’s home, the thrill of the game does not end at the beat of the buzzer. For after every game—win or lose—exists the next opportunity to seize the opportunity of getting better.
Thanks to game tapes and statistics, questions about what went wrong and what could have been done better in every match are answered in quantifiable measures. Athletes rely on stats to gauge their place while depending on the tapes to anticipate future plays of their toughest opponents—allowing them to be a step ahead of the game and build their identity as a team by studying the techniques in their play.
“It’s always good to kind of see yourself after the games, and so I think this is something that really helps us grow as a team [since] it helps us establish our identity as a whole,” says DLSU Green Archer and UAAP Season 84 Mythical 5 member Michael Phillips.
Engaging the game
All would agree that the world of sports would not be the same without its passionate community. Sports journalists and analysts alike work to provide appealing and substantial content for them to engage with.
For three-time UAAP basketball champion Isaac Go, being a sports analyst is about giving fans more knowledge to understand a game beyond highlights and into the patterns of how an athlete approaches each possession. Go uses game statistics and video tapes to study the decisions athletes typically make in different game scenarios.
“If I’m able to continue to increase the knowledge of the casual fan, then it just increases the level of basketball in the country,” he explains.
Miguel “Dyp” Dypiangco—former UAAP courtside reporter, sports producer and anchor of Cignal TV—also uses stock videos and highlights to produce his plugs. Dyp shares how difficult it is to work with a lack of materials, especially when anchors like himself struggle in familiarizing with foreign athletes.
Similarly, when the material available only exists through text, it becomes a challenge for producers to transform its content into captivating media for sports fans. “It’s more effort you have to put in [producing] because instead of being able to show real life or moving images, you have to rely on texts,” Dyp expresses.
For him, having archived files, especially complete game recordings, is of utmost importance in order to create his content as it gives him details of the games. Having full access to them allows him to review and take notes for the succeeding games. Cignal TV’s tapes go as far back as 2001, and this vast collection enables him to make more analytical and stylistic choices in his reporting without compromising his credibility.
However, Dyp notes that limitations do exist when accessing older game files such as those from the 1990s. In those situations, “kapag ganun nga kaluma [ang video], wala kang ibang option but to check YouTube,” says Dyp.
(When the videos are that old, there is no other option but to check YouTube.)
Behind the glory
It’s not just producers or analysts that take advantage of tapes or statistics. Basketball teams also review these to determine their mistakes, see how to execute the right plays, and perfect their body language. Game archives also develop athletes’ mastery of their respective performances, response to plays, and chemistry as a unit.
Go explains that there are two ways to watch a game tape. One, they can observe the game and note valuable observations from their viewing, which is what they call an “eye test”. Second, they also look at “hard statistics” and observe how the numbers support what they see in the game. He further explains that this data quantifies everything and serves as a point of comparison for future performances. “You get to see certain things that you do—whether good or bad—[and] what your opponents do, and it just helps you broaden your knowledge [of] the game,” Go explains.
However, game statistics can also be misleading. With trends that differ every season, it will be hard to gauge or plan what is the best possible option to counter their opponents without looking at the bigger picture. Go reiterates that teams should not solely rely on statistics.
For Phillips, game tapes and statistics do not just prepare them for scouting, but it also gives them a mental advantage over their competitors. “[It] helps us in the mental process [so that] when we are in the game, [we are already] kind of familiar [with them]. So it’s not just using talent against talent,” the Green Archer says.
Coaches are regularly given a copy of the tapes to prepare and to rigorously study the patterns they execute in-game, especially highlighting bad plays and decisions. Meanwhile, they have their styles of presenting these game tapes afterward, communicating a proper game plan for players to execute better in future games. Only a few good runs are shown, as errors serve as their learning points during film viewing.
“It’s always easier to learn from the negatives, so that’s how our video would transition and— especially as you get [further into] the season—it’s more about how the opponents play and how our style of play may or not be what [makes] it easier,” explains Go.
Born and raised in the United States of America, Phillips also reveals that watching game tapes helped him adjust to the Philippine style of play. He watched DLSU’s games from Seasons 81 and 82, helping him understand what he can give to his seniors.
Learning from games and translating theory into action in training the next day by executing the same scenarios helps athletes grow“[I also did it] just so it becomes muscle memory, and [it’s a way to] capitalize on those mistakes,” Phillips relays.
When the tension is high and there’s a rush of adrenaline, game tapes help the teams, the panel, and the officials to make the right decisions, some of which could even be game-changing. “Sometimes it does affect the outcome of the game, but we always aim to be able to control the outcome without reliance on the referees.” Go notes.
Since networks consider these game tapes as their product, it is up to them how they choose to make them available to the public, especially in these times where media is more readily available than before. Nevertheless, their impact on the sports community—whether it be on the sidelines or on the court—remains significant. Archiving game tapes not only help the teams and the people who work behind the scenes, but also those who are working their way into the sports industry.