Not surprisingly, the Olympics are NOT the hot topic of conversation around the office. During the Sydney games there always seemed to be a bit of a buzz about it. All in all, I think I'm the only Olympics junkie left. Yes, I admit it, I'm an olympi-holic.
These games will be the end of me. Every night I'm up till 3am watching the most random competitions. I don't care who wins. It's just the spectacle of it all. Some people like to slow down and stare at car crashes on the side of the road. I like to watch fencing, weight-lifting, kayaking, etc, etc.
So considering I'm addicted to this stuff, I think I can comment on the coverage a bit.
As usual, the coverage on NBC primetime sucks. It's all swimming and gymnastics all the time. Oh, I forgot about Bob Costas and his evil smirk. Can someone please hop on a plane and kick his ass? One of these days I'm just going to throw my dinner plate at the TV and ruin a perfectly good TV and dinner.
The better coverage is on the cable networks. That's not to say that the announcers or hosts are any better. The sports covered on those networks are more interesting and generally, get more complete coverage than on NBC.
Prime example is sabre (which is different than fencing). It's funny because Slate.com calls NBC to task for the same thing I was intending to write about. So assuming you're not the junkie that I am, let me take you through the whole deal.
Bravo (a cable channel owned by NBC) has Olympic coverage during what can easily be referred to as happy hour. It's not live coverage, but it's fairly complete and it's on right after you leave work. You actually get to watch entire matches rather than cut and pasted coverage. So sabre was on and I was watching intently as some American woman won the bronze medal. I thought it interesting since this woman is the world champion, but she had stumbled a bit during the Olympics so she was stuck competing for the bronze medal. The announcers mentioned that another American would be competing for gold later that night. This woman was only 19 and barely made it to Athens because Nigeria decided not to send a female fencer.
So even though this woman wasn't that great, she had put together some great swordplay in the last few days so that she could compete for gold. What better storyline to cover? NBC loves to play up these under-dog type stories, especially if it's a young athlete making an Olympic debut and showing up the elder, more experienced teammate.
So lo and behold, NBC shows the women's sabre gold medal match later that night, but I almost missed it. Why? Because they only showed it for 30 seconds! They just skipped through the entire match showing only 4 or 5 points. It was faster than most highlights during the nightly news. And this for a match in which an American won gold for the time in 100 years! Not only an American, but an underdog American who barely made it to Athens. Now, if you've got this great storyline, why not play it up even more? We all know that NBC is a storyline-whore so what happened here?
Even better, later in the evening they spent a good 10 minutes on some story about the road between Athens and Olympia. Really, did we need that crap? Isn't that was video streaming of the web is for? And of course, they spent the rest of the night showing swimming and gymnastics. Of course those sports bring in the ratings, but seriously, would it have been difficult to find 10 minutes of air time to show the sabre?
I'm sure I sound like another complainer who can never be satisfied. Well, I'm definitely not satisfied. What annoys me the most is that NBC didn't even have to make shit up about the uniqueness of the sabre final. It was all right there for them! They're so used to playing shit up they couldn't see the need to just show this without fucking with it.
Anyways, there are a bunch of other annoyances I have with the coverage of these games, but overall, I definitely enjoy having the ability to watch hour after hour of wierdo sports. Too bad NBC has to actually cover it. Their cable partners have much better coverage and they should stick to showing the good stuff. NBC may as well just show highlights in 30 minutes increments especially since they take the viewing public as ADD afflicted losers who can't understand anything beyond the pool and the gymnastics arena (both of which are devoid of crowds).