Saturday, February 08, 2014

Why I Don't Watch The Olympics

Twenty years ago I couldn't wait for the Olympics.  I used to be glued to the TV set, watching all the drama.  The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat.  Then something happened.  NBC took over the Olympics and TV coverage became one long commercial interrupted by coverage almost exclusively of ONLY American athletes.  Hey, I'm for the Americans to but really, aren't there other countries competing?  

Carl Lewis - I got it - you're American

I started to really lose interest in the Olympics, specifically the Olympic coverage of the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.  This is the one where the Russians didn't compete.  I tried to watch the coverage but I got so sickened by the constant "USA! USA! USA!" that I had to turn it off.  Then I noticed something else, when "USA!" isn't ahead in the medal count, the TV (specifically NBC) doesn't tell you.  I remember how hard I tried to find which country was leading and I couldn't because whenever the "USA!" isn't leading, the NBC coverage isn't forthcoming with that information.  What? Are they afraid their viewership will go down?  Of course they are.  Again, the TV Types have underestimated the typical American viewer that they wouldn't be interested if "USA" wasn't leading.  But then, maybe they didn't underestimate (or "misunderestimate" as former president George W. Bush used to put it).  

1984 Los Angeles Olympics

I don't know but it seems to me at one time the TV coverage of the Olympics used to cover ALL the athletes for ALL the countries.  Not just the unusual ones like the Jamaican bobsled team (which is actually a joke and we all know it) but the real, qualified athletes from other countries.  I think that was back when ABC and Jim McKay used to cover the Olympics.  

Whatever happened to those days?  

The last Olympics that I can remember watching was the 1994 Winter Olympics.  I used to love to watch the ice skating competition.  

Torville and Dean - British ice skaters - one of the rare times that the TV coverage was of non-American competitors

But this was also the time of the knee caping incident that involved the American ice skating competitors Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan.  You remember Tonya don't you?  Miss White Trash.

Tonya Harding - lovely, just lovely

And Nancy Kerrigan, the White Ice Princess (who was a potty mouth during the post Disney victory parade thus killing her endorsement prospects post Olympics, Miss Ice Princes turned out to be a total bitch too)

Nancy Kerrigan

I followed this story closely, this was real "National Enquirer" stuff (which I love). I endured the endless commercials and all the usual "USA! USA! USA!" that was now derigueur. 

However, I had the same problem, who was winning the Olympics?  Do you know which country got the most gold medals?  It was Canada folks.  They won 14 gold medals, the most won by any country EVER in a single Winter Olympics.  But you wouldn't know that from the NBC TV coverage.  That was because the "USA!" didn't win the most gold medals.  If they gave gold medals for the most commercials, or the best sob stories of the "USA!" competitors who overcame great odds to compete, the "USA!" would win hands down. 

Team USA with their Ralph Lifshitz Lauren uniforms NOT made in USA - another phony baloney but I understand this year the Lifshitz Lauren uniforms are SEWN in the USA - phew, that's a relief

So folks, when the next Olympics rolled around I started to watch it but I couldn't get past the seemingly endless stream of commercials.  Even worse, I couldn't watch any of the events live.  The powers that be at NBC decided that we of the Great Unwashed

needed to be spoon fed the Olympic coverage so their advertisers could get the maximum bang for their buck.  There ensured a great controversy but apparently NBC hasn't learned its lesson.  They're still editing "live" events.  See here.

So here we are now folks, for the next two weeks NBC will be inundating my favorite TV station (MSNBC) with their mind numbing Olympic coverage. 

I'm not watching.


anne marie in philly said...

Torville and Dean - what a great pair they were! and Dean was a hottie!

I cannot remember the last time I watched; I think Scott Hamilton won the gold for skating. yeah. but I don't watch tv anyway.

Geo. said...

Ron, I understand and agree with your objections to Olympic coverage but somehow the last two photos don't fit in. Sports aficionadoes have been looking forward to watching this new event, competitive crapping, and the Russians have gone to great trouble to create the world's first regulation indoor court.

Anonymous said...

I saw Russian, Danish, and Norwegian competitors tonight. That being said, I am tired of all the "special interest stories". I want to see the sports, not the story of how little Maybell trained since she was 2 on frozen ponds in Iowa. I want the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat, too, not how they got there!

Peace <3

pat888 said...


When I see the olympics I'm totally enthralled. Today I was at a mall and for a while I watched women's slalom skiing. I was hooked I couldn't leave til I watched all the countries involved. When I got home I had to see more and I caught the men's snowboarding event. I thought I heard that it's the first time this sport has been entered. It was extremely gripping. I was fearing for these young daredevils who were shooting so hi up into the air they were completing 3 full summersaults. I had to put up with a VISA commercial about every 3 minutes thru the CBC feed that I was using to watch. Sometimes they played the commercial twice - one after another. I have no idea why and it's not an exaggeration. Every few minutes. It's spectacular entertainment tho.


Jon said...

I still watch the Olympics, even though the coverage is absolutely nothing like it used to be. I agree with all of the negative aspects of the games that you have so eloquently brought out. Most of the NBC coverage is dreary and pathetic, at best.

I was living in Los Angeles during the '84 Olympic Summer Games and it brings back many fond memories.

Helen Lashbrook said...

I don't watch sports events because I don't like sport; but I doubly don't watch the Sochi Olympics because they were bought from the IOC by Putin and his mob. And of course Putin is behind the anti-gay agenda in the former USSR. Where else but in Russia would you get an ex-KGB man as head of state?

Ron said...

And I didn't even touch on the anti-gay cloud hanging over the Olympics. Just one more reason why I wouldn't watch the Olympics. You have the Russian thug Putin's vanity project.

Ron said...

Hard to believe how anxious I was in the past for the Olympics to roll around so I could watch the competition. As the marketers foul so much else in our society, they have also spoiled the Olympics for me. Too many commercials, too many special interest stories, too much jingoistic blather, and not enough real competition. It's a shame how NBC has ruined the coverage of the Olympic games.

Ron said...


Reading your account of watching the Olympics yesterday reminded me of how much I used to enjoy watching LIVE coverage of the events as they happened and with ALL of the competitors, not just the American athletes. I would even put up with the avalanche of commercials to watch live coverage of all the participants but unfortunately, those at NBC who think they know better than we of the Great Unwashed choose to tape the highlights (mostly of only the American athletes) and place it in prime time where their sponsors can get the most viewership. Another thing I hate about the Olympics is professional athletes compete. What happened to the amateur concept?

Ron said...

I haven't watched any of the Olympics. Good to hear that NBC is actually showing other country's competitors. However, I bet their coverage is still heavily slanted towards the American competitors. And like you, I grew tired of all the special interest stories about twenty years ago. Not everybody is up from the bootstraps competitors. Many come from well off families and they never had to work at a job a day in their life. That doofus who won all the swimming medals, the one with the long torso and short legs, he spent all his youth swimming. When I was his age I was delivering newspapers, cleaning offices and working the weekend at the Farmers' Market at the meat stand. I didn't have swimming pool at my disposal. Besides, my legs are too long and I don't have a body shaped like a fish.

Ron said...

I didn't even go into the "shared toilets". God, how I hated that. When I was in the Army we had a row of twelve toilets right next to each other. Nothing like taking a crap in company. Just lovely.

Ron said...

Anne Marie,

I'm debating whether of not to even keep my TV. I basically only watch MSNBC. The rest of the shows full of commercials and crapola.


slugmama said...

The last time I remember the coverage being LIVE on American TV was in 1972, the Sapporo Winter games. I had gotten my own little b/w tv for my bedroom(paid for it with babysitting $), so I stayed up late into the wee hours of the morning w/the volume way down so my parents didn't hear it, and watched many of the events live. From bobsled to ski jumping, I saw it live. I realize why the US stations don't broadcast live anymore, because they never know what time events will occur in relation to the US time zones and that just doesn't jive with their selling of big $ advertising time to sponsors.

And ugly are those US RL team US sweaters this year? And did he really have to put his POLO branding on them all so large and obnoxiously placed? Didn't he get enough $$ for designing them and does he have enough brand recognition already?? Puh-leez!