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.
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)
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 |
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.