Wednesday, July 9, 2008

I wonder...

if I should start complaining about NBC's Olympics coverage yet. Each Games, it gets a little worse, as they try to make up in volume (on the 453 networks of NBC) what they are too myopic to do with quality. The most irritating thing to me is the pre-written story line, the event that they have already decided will be the most compelling. It needs to be touching, so they can do some soft-focus video with sappy piano or guitar music, it needs to concern someone who will win medals, and it must, absolutely must, be about an American.

For the swimming trials, the two story lines were Michael Phelps, who seems like a pleasant if totally uninteresting young man, and "41-year-old mom" Dara Torres. For the men's gymnastics trials, it was Raj Bhavsar, who was disappointed four years ago, totally changed his attitude, becoming enlightened throough yoga, then was almost pornographically doted on by the NBC cameras and announcers. If we weren't seeing Raj, we were seeing his mother or his father.

That there were other gymnasts competing made little difference to NBC, as they lingered over Raj changing his shirt, Raj receiving good wishes, missing only Raj's trips to the men's room. (Naturally, Raj failed to make the team, but that wasn't announced until the next day, by which time NBC had moved on to the far more compelling women - Raj was quite literally yesterday's news.)

I suppose there's no point in complaining about these things, though I could start a whole new blog devoted just to that. It's just disappointing to see a network with these kinds of resources setting their goals so low, taking the convenient and obvious story over those they might find by digging a littlle. Fortunately, the athletes usually transcend the coverage.


Citizen Carrie said...

I've got so many gripes about network coverage of the Olympics it's hard to just pick one. I do think you were very gallant not to mention that all of that "Up Close and Personal" crap as invented by ABC many years ago is geared to us female viewers. How insulting!

The networks also seem to think that no one can possibly be interested in watching any athletic events outside of football, basketball, baseball or hockey, so they broadcast all of the fluff pieces to supposedly keep us from flipping the channels.

CBC coverage can be a lot better than American coverage at times, but that's not saying much.

Androcass said...

I'm of two minds about the "Up Close and Personal" stuff. It was some of the most bathetic reporting, with the gymnast overcoming the tragic loss of her Pomeranian but bravely coming back to go for gold. On the other hand, it did show a commitment to spending some money on going out and covering the people, and it did, at times, feature athletes from other countries. NBC has tried to do it on the cheap, doing less reporting and confining it to Americans.

As for gearing it toward women, you're absolutely right, that was insulting, and there's a further irony. The "women" events, gymnastics and figure skating, have become less "feminine" as time has gone by. Their appeal was supposedly dance within sport, but the dance component has become almost non-existent. Most figure skating choreography has nothing to do with the music; the less said about the supposed dance qualities of floor exercise the better.

Most women who I have known who enjoy sports, enjoy sports, and usually for the same reasons as men do, the competition, the striving for excellence. The only real difference is that women tend to spill less beer on the couch :-).

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