Sunday, February 19, 2006

A Flame Few Have Noticed 

You Are Bobsledding

You're not a world class athlete, but you are a world class maniac.
Your need for speed could have you blazing past the finish line!
What Winter Sport Are You?

Quiz via Caltechgirl.

It's been the usual business for me lately. Last weekend was a trip to Southern CA to visit Caltechgirl, GMT, Bill, Helen, and Sandro. During the week has been lots of stressful work.

Still though, I've managed to get in some Winter Olympics viewing. However, this time around, watching has felt more like an obligation than a joy.

Thanks, NBC.

OK, so it's not all their fault. It's tough covering an event occurring ten time zones ahead of home. Even the Italians are distracted from the Turin Torino games. They're waiting on the 2006 World Cup, which I'll be more interested in too.

Still, watching these games have the feel of eating leftover casserole. By the time you consume it, it's already going stale, and you wonder why you didn't just get take-out to start with anyway.

In 1996, NBC dropped the most wretched, jingoistic, oversapified sentimentality on unsuspecting viewers heads. This time, the 2006 games seem to suffer from Attention Deficit Syndrome. The Olympic Games are one event, made up of several niche events. To cover the wide variety of events, NBC has decided to bounce back and forth. One 5-minute segment of bobsledding, followed by a ten-minute segment of ice dancing, then five minutes of speed skating.

Instead of covering a few events well, NBC has decided to cover all the events poorly. Is it any wonder the Olympics have taken a beating from American Idol among others?

If I were broadcasting the Winter Olympics, I would make the following (perhaps unpopular) choices:

1.) Do the research and surveying. See what events give me the best shot at ratings gold. Pick, say women’s' figure skating, and devote most of the evening to it. Show the other events on m cable channels. That way, I keep the skating fans tuned in, and fans of other events can go to the other channels.

2.) After a big event, especially an American victory, cut to the national anthem immediately after the performance. The Olympics now have a common medal ceremony for a day's events. Big mistake. It's like going out to eat, then not having dessert until breakfast the next day. Follow up on the emotion of the athletes and the spectators with the natural climax of the medal presentation and the anthem.

3.) Stick between live coverage of an event at 5am or delaying the coverage until evening? I say do both. The hardcore fans can watch on CNBC or MSNBC, then the rest of us can watch that evening on NBC if we so chose.

4.) Expanding on 1.), show more of each event. Show the foreigners with the funny names. Show the medal ceremonies of big events, even if it's the Slovenian national anthem that gets played. Yes, Americans want to see our athletes win. But the Olympics (for me as a kid anyway) were about events and athletes I can't see every day. I want to see the German luge champion in the funny orange and black tights go down the course. I want to see the cross-country skiing where the crowds are full of Austrian and Norwegian flags. That's the point; I get to see people different from me in competition for themselves and their country. That's what the Olympics are about. I don't want a snippet; I can only get the impact of an event if I see more.

5.) Get the Games off this alternating two-year system. The Athens games were barely a year and one half ago. Frequent Olympics just turn them into another (nearly) yearly World Championship of Obscure Sports. The Olympics are were special because of their scarcity.

You can tell the Olympics are in trouble. Before people were upset at the disappointing coverage. Now, most people just don't care.

Yeah, I never liked the change from 4 years to 2. My mother can't stand seeing events long after they've happened, but I remind her that she probably wouldn't tune in at 2am to see the figure skating finals. I agree that the NBC coverage is poorly done...each year it seems to get worse.
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