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Today, nearly every Harvard varsity sports home game is televised and streamed on screens around the world — but it wasn’t always this way.
Just 11 years ago, Harvard produced broadcasts for only 12 of its sports teams. Harvard Athletics now broadcasts the home contests of 40 of the school’s 42 varsity teams through networks including ESPN+ and the New England Sports Network. The only exceptions are men’s and women’s golf, due to Harvard’s lack of a home course.
Associate Director of Athletics Imry Halevi, who is responsible for content and strategic communications, has pushed for increases in broadcasting since his arrival at the department in November 2012.
“When I came — again, there was nothing here,” Halevi said. “Our facilities, some of them are newer, some are older, cabling was older and there really wasn’t an infrastructure and so that was a big challenge.”
In April 2018, the Ivy League and ESPN signed a 10-year deal to broadcast 1,100 events annually through ESPN+, an online streaming service, and at least 24 games per year on ESPN’s cable networks.
“ESPN has a linear network and they have certain chunks of time that are available,” Halevi said. “And so they work with the Ivy League and make those decisions also with an eye towards gender equity and sports equity to make sure that we have all our teams — or as many teams as possible — getting that opportunity.”
A separate deal with NESN allows Harvard to broadcast up to 14 games per year.
“We tried to — and succeeded in — spreading out all these games throughout all our seasons and with as much equity as possible between the different sports,” Halevi said.
Halevi said he has had a number of conversations with coaches to understand the “intricacies” of each sport and their unique broadcasting challenges, citing the example of the sailing team.
“The coach sat here and explained it to me multiple times to make sure that I understood so that we can give the camera operators and the drone operators and the commentators the guidance they need to do the coverage well,” Halevi said.
Student athletes have welcomed the broadcasting of their home competitions with gratitude and excitement.
Katie J. Krupa ’26, a forward for the women’s varsity basketball team, said broadcasts of her games have enabled family from back home and internationally to tune in to support her.
“I have family not just from around the country, but also around the world, and the fact that they get to stream my games is just very, very exciting to them,” Krupa said.
With relatives living in the Czech Republic and Hong Kong, Krupa’s friends and family are able to watch her games across several regions and time zones.
“It means a lot to me just because I know I have that support even when they’re not physically here with me in Boston, especially being someone who comes from very far away,” she said.
Ludovico A. “Ludo” Rollo ’25, a member of the men’s soccer team, said there was “no way to overstate” his gratitude for the broadcasts.
Rollo said the broadcasts are a significant benefit for international students, whose families are often unable to see games in person.
“Thanks to a game being streamed through ESPN and the New England Sports Network, they have the ability to at least watch their kid play over the weekend and still share those same emotions that they had growing up, even though they’re a whole ocean away,” he said.
Halevi said broadcasting is “not just pointing a camera,” adding that Harvard Athletics is pursuing an initiative to highlight students’ non-athletic achievements during live commentary.
“We try to encourage our commentators to share that information as well on the air to make sure that people who watch us know, ‘Hey, these are not just amazing athletes, but they’re also amazing students,’” he added.
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