I watched the snowboarding competition last night, and, though this may come as a surprise to the all-knowing knowers at NBC, I had my own experience. I was sad that Lindsey Jacobellis lost her race, but found it enjoyable the way that snowboarders described the culture of their sport.
The NBC commentators, though, had to hype her second-place finish as one of the all-time washouts in Olympic history. The shame, the heartbreak! She'll have to live with this for the rest of her life, etc., etc., ad nauseam.
NBC is doing a better job of showing the Olympics as a truly international sporting event, rather than a showcase for American "superiority," but still has a long way to go. The Olympics are a competition, but the greatest benefit is for international understanding, and for athletes to meet and make friends with people from all over the world. Winning is good, but as Lindsey Jacobellis showed us, it is not the be-all and the end-all. She is happy with her silver, and NBC should be too.
To the commentators, all I can say is nice try. At least Jim Lampley didn't get caught up in the hype. Better luck next time. It's only four years away.
I followed it on February 27 with this email:
Much is being said of the lackluster coverage of the Olympic events. I'm not sure what you could have done to have more luster. There could be more hype, but I would have quit watching then. Maybe Bill Walton in a clown outfit.
Actually, Bob Costas in a clown outfit would be more appropriate. I watched his expression of opinion about Bode Miller the other night, and it was pretty comical. Costas was trying to show his indignation that Bode Miller didn't care much about not getting any medals. What the indignation reveals is something deeper. Had the U.S. Olympic team won more medals, and won big, NBC's ratings would have been much higher, more money would have been made, and Bob Costas would not have looked so useless and boring.
If the Olympics are to be operated in a way that makes Mr. Costas shine, I suggest repeated drilling at all Olympic practices, tryouts, meetings, and whatever event or activity would-be Olympians attend of this dictate: You are here to win for the USA, and for NBC. Winning isn't everything; it's the only thing. If you aren't here to win, don't bother to show up. If you don't win, you are a loser. You will have shamed your country, and shouldn't be allowed to return to America. Now go out there and win!
What you might want to consider is that representing the United States of America isn't what it used to be. With our little adventure in Iraq, our planned little adventure in Iran, our insistance on destroying the ecosystem, and our ruling elite's zeal for having it all to themselves, it shoud be no surprise that winning one for the USA might not be on the top of many athletes' lists of their top priorities.
No doubt NBC will get someone else to do the anchoring of the next Olympics. Someone who can bring the ratings in. If we continue to treat the rest of the world with disrespect, though, even Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie will not be able to put Humpty Dumpty together. Better luck next time.
Not much needs to be added to what I wrote to NBC. I found the Olympics to be the most enjoyable to watch since I was young. The performances were great, and so were the people. Joey Cheek donated the money he made to relief for the refugees in the genocide stricken Sudan. Jeret “Speedy” Peterson sacrificed getting a medal by taking freestyle skiing to a new level. Shani Davis showed great poise and loyalty to his hometown supporters by not getting dragged into a feud with a sour grapes teammate. Bode Miller showed us that winning is not the only thing that leads to a happy life. Shaun White, Lindsey Jacobellis, Seth Wescott, Apolo Anton Ohno, Sasha Cohen, Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto all showed us the joy of competing, the grace of performance, and the love of being at the Olympics. Some won, some didn't. They did more for world peace and international understanding than the Bush crime family could ever hope to accomplish. It would be nice, though, if the BCF at least had the hope.