Friday, August 27, 2004


Like most people in the U.S., I'm watching the Olympics - I've been staying up past my bedtime to catch as much as I can.

We don't have Cable or DirectTV, so we stuck with NBC's standard coverage.

It pisses me off how much time they devote to the big "sports": swimming, gymnastics, and track. Now, I like Track, but do we really need to watch the quarter-finals of the 100m dash? Sure, its' "our" event, but seriously, couldn't we spend a little bit of the time covering a different sport, or even different events? Plus, all of the human interest stories that surround it are silly. The U.S. men sprinters are just so cocky and full of attitude - they exemplify what I think other countries think of the U.S. in general: full of talent/potential, but arrogant, self-centered, and oblivious to the rest of the world. Bronze medalist is a prime example, and the other two U.S. finalists were thumping their chests and bandstanding in the semi-finals. It was enough for me to want a different country to win.

I also like swimming, but the coverage is just too U.S.-centric. The commentators focus only on the U.S. athletes, and they seem to know so little about the rules (or are not willing to share it). For example, Aaron Peirsol had a judge rule an illegal flip turn in the 200m backstroke finals, a ruling that threatened to take away his gold medal. Did the announcers begin talking about what the rules are, what judges usually look for, what might have gone wrong? No, the commentary was all about, "he's in shock, he can't believe it, the U.S. coaches are probably going protest, he's in shock, nobody can believe it, ..." Give us some information to use. Don't simply repeat the same emotional statements over and over and over.

The commentators for the gymnastics are just as bad. When Paul Hamm stumbled on the landing for his vault, they responded, "You just can't do that and expect to win, let alone place." While that is normally a fair statement, he did, in fact, go on to win the gold medal for the all-around. Fine, give them that one, but they said the same thing when some women stumbled the next night. Hello? McFly? Anyone home? You were WRONG last night, perhaps you shouldn't repeat your mistakes so quickly. And how many times do they have to remind us that those little steps (on landing) count? I must have heard that phrase ten times in one evening.

And we've got some pretty insensitive camera men and commentators. I forget which sport it was, diving probably, but one of the women messed up a dive and blew her chances at a medal. She was pretty much guaranteed a gold, messed up, and dropped out of contention. So what did the camera man do? He followed her, around the corner to the deserted warm up area, and watched her grieve, getting very close. Have a little humanity, please. And, after some controversy over a judging problem that potentially could have given a South Korean athlete the gold in the all-around competition instead of Paul Hamm, some commentator quizzed Paul, "So how are you handling the controversy? How do you feel about having the gold when the South Korean athlete's performance was incorrectly judged?" The commentator acknowledged that the controversy could be wearing on Paul, yet, knowing that, still went ahead with throwing it in his face.

Sometimes, it's just embarrassing to be an American.

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