My Love/Hate Relationship With the Olympics

Or… Where I think NBC went off course…

First, the Love/Hate bit:
What I Love:
–   I love the demonstration of sport, the competitve display, especially in areas that aren’t normally found on channels here in the states (Swimming/Diving, Indoor Track Cycling, Crew, among others).
–   I love hearing some of the backstories – like those of the Irish gymnast, Kieran Behan (told he would never walk again after training injuries), or Oscar Pistorious (first double amputee to compete in the regular games – in track and field!), or the development of a Jamaican Bobsled team – which still goes back to the demonstration of sport.
–   I loved some of the “local color” pieces – one of the things I think NBC did right during their broadcasts.
–   I love how I get inspired and motivated to want to go do stuff – to want to run, to ride one of my bikes (road or mountain). To want to train for a local 5k or biathlon. For a brief flicker, I’m taken back to my younger self and dreams and imaginings of what it would be like to compete in an Olympics.
–   When displays of Humanity and Positive Energy are brought to center stage. (Chief example that comes to mind: Torville & Dean at the 1994 Winter Olympics, and their tribute to Sarajevo – where they had skated and won Gold in 1984.)

What I Hate:
–   When Negative Politics take center stage. (1972, Munich? USA Basketball gets robbed of the Gold. The Massacre – when 11 members of the Israeli delegation were murdered. 1968 and “The Salute” – I agree with the motivation behind it, disagree with the backlash from it. 1996 – The Centennial Park Bombing in Atlanta.) Doing that – focusing on the political, or facilitating acts of terrorism – is the complete opposite of what the Games are supposed to be about. [I realize, all of these except Atlanta were before my time, and I see them from the educated position of hindsight, not the hazy lines of living through the moment.]
–    When the coverage is choppy or inconsistant. Two cases in point that jump to mind, and it took my mother-in-law mentioning something before I really noticed it – when the announcer’s scripts would indicate the results of the event about to be shown [like, “See Phelps’s Gold Medal swim, when we come back.”], or like during the closing ceremony they pause to run the pilot of a new sitcom before showing The Who closing out the games.

NBC’s Failings (my opinion):
Like I mentioned in my “hate” point – I think NBC’s coverage was too limited. I understand that London is five hours ahead, so “story lines” can be created for the prime time broadcasts. But to break up the closing ceremonies to run a sitcom pilot? Really? I found it tacky.

I was also disappointed that there were no digital options available – in the day and age where we can get various sporting events for purchase online (looking at iTunes here), that there wasn’t some sort of deal made – be it highlight clips or event specific packages. Belive it or not, there are some of us that don’t actually have DVRs or TiVO, or don’t feel like trying to figure out which of the NBC stations are playing a particular event (if at all). And straming feeds while at work isn’t really a viable option. The alternate viewing option would have been nice.

In all, I liked what I saw,and am looking forward to the Winter Olympics in 2014.

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