Thoughts on Athens 2004
Let’s break tradition and start off with good news first.
Non-US coverage is quite good
Whereas many of you in the States might be suffering from the same wonderful NBC (prime-time … I’ll get to that) coverage, those in other parts of the world are faring a bit better. Has NBC Turned The Olympics Into Will And Greece? is a discussion that runs the gamut of complaints about NBC coverage. There are the stories of crass commercialism:
- Athletes not allowed to carry or display any brands that are not official sponsors. (notice how all of the water bottles are unmarked?)
- “The Nike swoosh on every USA uniform. Must we commercialize everyfuckingthing?”
- Massive TV commercial onslaughts, often outweighing time spent on the sport
- Nationalism, which, while present in all countries, (Switzerland has extended coverage of the exciting-to-watch sport of women’s air pistol) is somewhat exaggerated when “a greater percentage of the total time [is spent] on the playing of the US national anthem than on the match itself”
But I said I’d start on a good note, right?
- I’ve heard that other channels, like Bravo, USA and others are broadcasting a wider range of sports for US residents
- There’s still the CBC in some parts of the country to save us all
- Eurosport (all over Europe) shows round-the-clock coverage
- Commercial breaks come every 15-20 minutes or so and only last 30 seconds to a minute
- They cover almost everything. Seriously. I’ve seen badminton, table tennis, shot put, archery, sculling, sailing, canoing, air rifle, volleyball, fencing, dressage, water polo, and all sorts of other stuff I didn’t even know existed.
- You never see the announcers
- The british announcers are funnier than the german ones. (favorite quote so far: “He’s an awful hurdler, but quite fast between them.”)
- There are almost no interviews. When there are interviews, they are in a tiny picture-in-picture box in the top left corner. On-screen, the action continues.
- If you don’t like Eurosport, you’ve got 10 other channels to choose from.
Olympic Judging still sucks
I just watched the 2004 Athens men’s high bar final. Anyone who watched it knows who actually won the event — Alexei Nemov.
He was mysteriously in 5th place. Apparently, the judges found that 12 medals, over the years, were enough for him. That’s how the Olympics works.
Refreshingly, the crowd booed for 15 minutes before Nemov was able to calm them back down.
You’ll hear arguments that the judges, with their God-like insight, see things mortals cannot, and judge the routine by more than just flash.
You should have seen that guy fly. Blew the competition away. Just watching his 30 second routine — you couldn’t breathe.