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This should just about cover it: my rant on NBC’s Olympic coverage

English: Usain Bolt at the World Championship ...

Usain Bolt in Berlin, 2009. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As we enjoy the second, and final, week of the Olympics, I thought I’d get a jump on my wrap-up. Frankly, my enthusiasm for the Olympics is beginning to wane. Why? Before I get to my planned Olympic tribute: The Greenspan Awards: Candidates for Future Segments for Bud Greenspan’s Firmament of Olympic Glory (which I may or may not get to, let’s be real here), here’s one long, slightly unhinged rant on NBC’s Olympic coverage.

It’s Sunday night. Clearly I don’t have tickets for the Olympics. Husband and I are at home, stateside, listening to the static coming from two baby monitors. We’re in primetime Olympic coverage. It’s nine o’clock. We all know Usain Bolt is running the 100 Meters tonight, probably because my Olympics iPhone apps have been dinging in my ear all day. I have nine apps. I thought all of a sudden I was really popular and getting tons of texts, but no. Usain Bolt!

So never mind that these apps (and NPR!) spoiled me for the result several times over. As they did for Bradley Wiggins’ Time Trial win. (Do I learn? No.) AND never mind I am holding off on watching Breaking Bad for this. I want to watch Bolt win. I am ready. We know it’s already happened, so obviously NBC is going to show it as the centerpiece of the evening’s coverage, right? They can show it whenever they want. Nine o’clock passes…

YET MORE beach volleyball. How much of this sport am I going to have to fast-forward before the end of the Olympics? It’s not even a final, or semi-final. It’s one of about – as far as I can tell, I can’t be bothered to check my app(s) to find out – a hundred million qualifying rounds May/Walsh have played. I feel like I’ve seen about nineteen Olympics worth of THEM ALONE playing beach volleyball, and they keep getting the primest of the primetime spots. Meanwhile, Usain Bolt, running probably the signature event of the entire games, is relegated to the eleven-o’clock hour – that’s practically late night! Why? Is it because Misty and Kristy, or whatever they are called, are American, and he is not? Because there is certainly a bias toward only showing events that the USA is contesting. I was shocked yesterday to tune into a Track Cycling final between France and Team GB (and that’s another thing, addressed to my DVR: if you say you’ve recorded Track Cycling, SHOW THAT. Not more volleyball!). Again, why? Don’t say it’s about the bikinis, because a) insulting and b) too cold for bikinis in London.

To sum up, even with all of the options that NBC claims are available to us for watching any Olympic event, I am pretty much bound to watch whatever they decide to prioritize in primetime. Because really, I don’t have all day and night to watch the Olympics, bouncing back and forth from the computer, to the phone, to the iPad, to whatever live coverage they can show. I really can just pick and choose a few things from the daytime coverage, and hope the DVR records what the guide proclaims (ahem, Track Cycling). And then watch the primetime coverage. Which has turned out to be all-American, all the time, with a huge bolus of beach volleyball stuck in the middle. And if you are watching primetime TV, they force you to the beach volleyball (men and women’s) by not even showing any alternate events on the NBC Sports Network – they’ve been showing poker in primetime! Poker!!! I thought that was the whole point of having a second network; to double your options. But no, Bob Costas needs us to see his taut face, directing us to hang on for more hyperbolic purple prose after commercial breaks. And by the way, Costas, you can chill with the flights of poetic fancy. You are no Greenspan. You are from Commack, you get me? Islander to Islander?

I appreciate that, by and large, people are going to be watching the Olympics to root for Team USA. But the Olympics is an opportunity to let the world into our homes. To appreciate the human, not just the American, spirit. So, in that spirit, O media gods, please, let me watch Mark Cavendish comment on the Track Cycling! I would be willing to pay for BBC coverage of the Olympics just to see this. And anyway, isn’t me funneling more money into media conglomerates also very much in the spirit of the Games? Let us, in the spirit of international fellowship, break down those firewalls!

So, hopefully, tune in soon for these Greenspan Awards I keep threatening you with, highlighting my favorite moments and people from London 2012. Spoiler Alert: Oscar Pistorius is definitely getting a Greenspan. I mean, come on!

English: Oscar Pistorius during 2011 World cha...

Guess who? during the 2011 World Athletics Championships in Daegu (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

9 Comments Post a comment
  1. llz #

    TOTALLY AGREE. I don’t even watch the primetime coverage because of it.

    August 7, 2012
  2. Hate the coverage. It’s why I’ve been so exhausted. By the way, just mentioned you at the end of my post. Please, no pressure at all.

    August 7, 2012
    • They did it again with the beach volleyball tonight! And thank you so much for including me. I’ll be working on it!

      August 7, 2012
  3. What watching the Olympics feels like. nuff said.

    August 8, 2012
  4. Allison #

    I was eagerly anticipating the start of track and field events, but found myself spending a frustrated weekend afternoon watching fencing. Fencing! I mean, sure it’s a challenging sport, and I totally respect how hard the athletes have worked… but it’s not exactly a spectacle! And then they do it all over again with a slightly different sword.. or saber or something.

    August 8, 2012
    • I think it is great that the Olympics exposes us to comparatively little-known sports, but their broadcasting priorities are definitely out-of-whack. The track and field events are at the heart of the Olympics, but very erratically shown. Again, why so late at night? Even some exciting Gymnastics was on late last night. And by the way, I did Fencing for my PE in college (which had a good Fencing team). A former Olympic coach was the teacher. After one jab of my foil, he stuck me on the side of the room with the other lefties and never addressed me again.

      August 8, 2012
      • Nessie Monster #

        NBC cut the Scottish anthem “Abide with me” from the opening ceremony. They also cut the tribute to the victims of the London terrorist attack on 7/7 for more commercial breaks. That was so rude.

        No wonder people consider America to be a horrble backward redneck dump calling itself a country.
        All the news media here care about is the silly medal war with China, sooooooooo friggin’ boring. For what its worth, The New World Order has China on top, Go figure that USA and get used to it.

        Its probably too late for anyone who cares but the glorious BBC have 24 live streams of each event daily.
        No dodgy American adverts just pure 100% coverage. whooohooo.

        Go the the BBC site, you’ll have to use a proxy server in the UK then watch whatever you choose… when you choose. AND its all FREE.

        I have just 9 more months of my contract to get through before I can go back home, its been fun at times but really I can’t wait to get back to Europe. There’s just too much creepy brainwash nonsense going on in the isolated USA.

        Europe is a better place to bring up a family. More freedom, more options.

        August 9, 2012
  5. I think the US, like everywhere else in the world, has its good points and bad points – but this proxy server thing, you may be onto something there!

    August 9, 2012
  6. Nessie Monster #

    Like a spotty teen the US needs some guidance. Yes there are some some good points about living in the US but there are a lot more bad points compared to life in Europe. C’est la vie, hope you find some olympic peace on the BBC via a proxy server 🙂

    August 9, 2012

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