10 August 2008

Station Announcement

We delay the post about our visit to the site of the Ancient Olympics to bring you this message about the Modern Olympics...

I love watching the Olympics. I mean, seriously love it!

I love it so much that back in the day when I had more vacation time than money, I would actually use vacation days to stay at home and watch the Olympics. Did not even care what was on. I would watch any Olympic sport the network happened to be covering.

Which surprises people who know me, because I actually dislike most sporting events. I find them extremely boring and not worth my time. But that's because most sports coverage focuses on the sport, which is the least interesting aspect to me.

The reason I love the Olympics is actually due to the stories.

One of my earliest Olympic memories is cheering on the 1980 American Hockey Team as they came from behind to win against the Soviet Union, eventually going on to win the Gold Medal. It could have been a movie script, especially with the back drop of the Cold War.

In 1988 I winched with empathetic pain when American diver Greg Louganis hit his head during a dramatic diving accident at the Seoul Olympics. And cheered when, with a throbbing headache and stitches in his head, he managed to defend his title and won a Gold medal.

In 1992 I cried when Derek Redmond, a British sprinter, tore his hamstring during the 400 meter semi-final in Barcelona, but was determined to finish the race. As he slowly limped down the field, with tears streaming down his face, his father ran from the stands. Pushing away the security guards who tried to prevent him, he reached his son, put his arm around his shoulder and helped him to the finish line. He only let him go a few feet before the actual finish so he could cross the line on his own.

In 2000 I was thrilled when Australian sprinter, Cathy Freeman, became the first ever Aboriginal Olympic champion. And how her happiness showed as she did a final victory lap, carrying both the Australian and Aboriginal flags.

I will even admit to watching with morbid fascination as the soap operatic events between Nancy Kerrigan and Tanya Harding unfolded during the 1998 Winter Olympics.

So with the Olympics upon us once again I eagerly sat down on Friday afternoon to watch the opening ceremonies and once again get caught up in the stories. And what a spectacular show it was! The amazing fireworks, the image of the final torch bearer being lifted and flown around the stadium towards the Olympic cauldron, and giggling at the Swiss team who went with a California surfer dude garb in their knee-length shorts. I was a bit annoyed by the British commentators, who weren't telling me any of the interesting back stories, but continued to blabber away about boring sports things.

And when the actual coverage of the sports began the next day I was sorely disappointed. We had been watching it on BBC. They weren't talking about the back stories. They weren't talking about what the athletes had to overcome to get to the Olympics. They weren't even talking about any of the scandals or politics. What were they talking about? The sports. How boring is that?

The only bit of fun was watching a British woman receive the Gold Medal in biking. And that was only because GLH insisted upon replacing the words of "God Save the Queen" with "My Country Tis of Thee" as loudly as he could. And even that would have been more fun if there had been a British person around at the time.

So we switched from satellite to US cable via SlingBox.

Thank goodness, the US commentators were Hollywood-izing the Olympics for me. Just the way I like it!

Because let's face it, without all the extra stories and video biographies, the Olympics is kind of boring.


Susan May said...

I have to admit, I'm enjoying watching the games (so far) on Euro-Sport. Yes, they talk a lot about the teams from the UK, but it's a refreshing change from NBC and how they focus (almost exclusively) on the American athletes. No matter what, I am a fool for the Olympics, and I'm sure to make a big dent on the couch these next few weeks!

Global Librarian said...

So let's think about this...

NBC focuses almost exclusively on US athletes. The US team has 596 athletes competing in the games and expects to receive as many as 121 medals.

The UK focuses somewhat on the UK athletes, but not so much. Of course, they have 312 athletes at the game with an expected medal tally of 35.

So perhaps what I need is to watch the Olympic coverage of a country with few athletes, a tradition of storytelling to supplement the boring sports stuff, and a large amount of money to dedicate to the coverage. Oh, and they should do the coverage in English because any other language is still too difficult for me to understand.

Hmm. What country would that be? Nothing comes to mind. Anyone?

Until then I'll keep with the highly produced, Hollywood-style, biographical storytelling version provided by NBC...

Pointless Drivel said...

I was just complaining about how they focus so much on events (I won't say "sports" since, Winter and Summer combined, there is only one sport actually at the Olympics) that we can see all the time, like basketball and gymnastics. I want to see the unique ones: Swimming, Track & Field, Rowing, Indoor Cycling, etc. But the network is in business to make money, and need to focus on what will get the most people to watch.

Of course, that's what DVR is all about. So far, I have watched more than twenty hours of Olympic coverage is approximately 90 minutes.