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11 August 2008

Official "I hate US TV Olympic coverage" thread. Buiding on an earlier thread, they're really getting under my skin![More:] Ok, I guess I have to put up with all their crap like waiting until five minutes before midnight to watch the good stuff, but, as was pointed out, they LISTED wrestling on their schedule and then DID NOT show it.

But Bob Costas lost me completely when he GAVE AWAY THE OUTCOME when he introduced the Chinese gymnast by saying, "she ran into trouble here," and she then proceeded to fall. Ok, we're not only going to show you only the Americans and one or two other top contenders, but we're also going to tell you in advance when said contenders are going to screw up so we can gloat even more! Arrrrhgh!#&$ *gnaw knuckles* I miss when I lived near the Canadian border and could watch CBC...
That's one thing I miss about New Zealand Olympics coverage. The NZ team was always so small that they could give them complete coverage and also devote a lot of time to fairly covering lots of other sports.

It does mean that I miss seeing all the equestrian eventing though (as that's one thing that NZ is quite good at)
posted by gaspode 11 August | 09:21
Nobody gives a fuck about 95% of those sports, why should we pretend we do for two weeks every four years? Just to be good consumers & watch those lame-ass ads?
posted by matteo 11 August | 09:34
But Bob Costas lost me completely when he GAVE AWAY THE OUTCOME when he introduced the Chinese gymnast by saying, "she ran into trouble here," and she then proceeded to fall.

That annoyed me too! We're watching in real time, don't project the outcomes! Not to mention that it seemed like most of the US girls fell, too.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero 11 August | 09:35
Nobody gives a fuck about 95% of those sports, why should we pretend we do for two weeks every four years?

Some of us do give a fuck about at least one of those "95% sports", and relish the chance to finally watch them on TV.

The coverage on the cable channels is generally much better than the prime time coverage, so that's nice on the weekend. Yeah, I mostly follow the olympics online now. I really, really hope that ABC gets the Olympics contract so that ESPN, ESPN 2, ESPN Deportes, etc. can do actual, quality sports coverage.
posted by muddgirl 11 August | 09:42
I hate US Olympic coverage because, like all Olympic coverage, it gives honor, prestige, and publicity to a genocidal regime; the athletes are no more than pawns in a political game where their success and failure is exploited by nationalistic demagogues. Oh, but the opening ceremonies were spectacular, you say? Well, of course. They run huge spectacles like that every year. You know who else had amazing Olympic ceremonies?

Every Olympic medal is steeped in Tibetan blood.
posted by Hugh Janus 11 August | 09:42
The only thing I care about is the men's basketball (but I will withhold my commentary about those inferior non-team sports). I don't have cable or antenna, so I was trying to find video highlights online. Jebus, it was tough. The awful NBC Olympics website wouldn't play video for me until about 2am EST. And even then I had to dig through all sorts of crap to get actual highlights--I finally found the highlights, but they didn't include any sort of play-by-play narration. Just some background music. So odd.

They do have the whole game online though, which is pretty cool.
posted by mullacc 11 August | 09:46
Before you got to the Godwin/Tibetan blood part, I thought the genocidal regime you were referring to was the US.
posted by box 11 August | 09:49
Every Olympic medal is steeped in Tibetan blood.

That, and more.

I think the Olympics are a waste of time and human effort that could be better spent in a multitude of ways.
posted by bunnyfire 11 August | 09:58
I think the Olympics are a waste of time and human effort that could be better spent in a multitude of ways.

You could say that about a lot of things. The space program, for instance. Both are worthy pursuits in my opinion.

The majority of things I buy are made in China and I'm sure many people here are in the same boat. Very few of us are just plain righteous instead of self-righteous.
posted by LoriFLA 11 August | 10:16
I would like to see Phelps lose, just because it's a true measure of character to see someone deal publicly with defeat.

I am also rooting against USA basketball. Otherwise, I am either for the US teams, or don't care.

Costas could have wiped the brown off his nose after interviewing President Bush.
posted by danf 11 August | 10:22
Before you got to the Godwin/Tibetan blood part, I thought the genocidal regime you were referring to was the US.

I don't share much Olympic Pride with my compatriots, so I don't feel the sting of hypocrisy when I point out China's commitment to the exploitation and destruction of its ethnic minorities. Plus, I think hypocrisy is integral to the human condition; so is our judgment of right and wrong. There's no shame in seeing evil, no matter who you are.

I also don't think the comparison amounts to much more than a cheap shot, whether for laughs or for reals. Genocide is different from illegal war, and the suppression of human rights here pales in comparison to what goes on over there (with popular support).
posted by Hugh Janus 11 August | 10:29
You know who else had amazing Olympic ceremonies?

I was just watching a documentary on North Korea, and that's like all they ever do there, is put on huge pageants. And let me tell you, I've never seen dancers in such perfect unison. I guess the whole under penalty of death thing really sharpens the focus.

I wonder if North Koreans helped with the Olympic opening.
posted by StickyCarpet 11 August | 11:28
Pretty much the only good think I have to say about NBC's coverage is that there's a ton of it. It's nice to have so many options when I feel like watching something. (Including Telemundo, which has gotten a lot more of my viewing time than I would have expected. Team handball in Spanish is just great!)

But I can't take their coverage, and as a result, the Olympics en masse, particularly seriously, because I'm afraid to get my hopes up about watching any particular event. I let myself get excited about Archery and, big surprise, they never showed it. They do this every time they have the games, and it prevents me from getting excited about any specific event. As long as I just go in with the mindset of "see what's on, pick what's best," I don't mind.

And STOP with the back stories. Can we actually organize a survey of the US TV-watching public to see if the predominance of these things is justified? Given the popularity of the "Chicken Soup" book series, I wouldn't be surprised if the interest is there, but given that these pieces ruin the Olympics every two years and mainstream sports coverage the rest of the time, I'd like to make CERTAIN that the majority wants these, and it's not just some programing director's hunch.
posted by SpiffyRob 11 August | 12:20
I think the Olympics are a waste of time and human effort that could be better spent in a multitude of ways.

I tend to agree on one level, but on another everyone needs spectacle and celebration sometimes and for many sports it's the ultimate meet. It's been so for far longer than I've been around, so who am I to tell elite sporting bodies how their competitions should be organised? It's nowt to do with me. And it makes me feel good when I see teams and athletes who have struggled to participate - I cheered in my living room for the Iraqis, the Afghanis, the Palestinians and the Sudanese. It's a big fucking deal to qualify and participate at Olympic level.

It was interesting to note the level of participation of Muslim countries (based on the athletes' parade) - I think Egypt and Indonesia had the largest teams, numbering in the 20s. These are populous and not-poor countries and the credence paid to elite sport is indicative of different priorities, I guess.

Every Olympic medal is steeped in Tibetan blood.

Oh bullshit. The games would have occurred elsewhere if not in China. This is specious reasoning.
posted by goo 11 August | 13:07
Oh bullshit.

And there goes discourse.

The games would have occurred elsewhere if not in China.

So what?

This is specious reasoning.

How so?
posted by Hugh Janus 11 August | 13:38
I like anything that gets people from opposing countries to interact in a non-military setting.

A few of those people will figure out that those OTHER people are just people, and not their governments.
posted by small_ruminant 11 August | 13:54
My $0.02, politics aside. (Not to trivialize, there is always something ugly in the wings with anything global. And most of the time with anything local, for that matter. I'm pretty sure there was dirt flying around in the periphery of all the games in Greece centuries ago. Things haven't changed much. And I don't think that not watching the games has any effect whatsoever on the goings on politically. There's still a lot to be learned culturally, even if just to spark digging for more knowledge.)

1. NBC does suck. I'm happy to see coverage of the US team, but I'd just as well like to see other countries compete. The NBC commentary is imbecilic and unimaginative.

2. I really like seeing lesser covered sports during the Olympics. I really got into curling the last winter games. I'd like to have seen some fencing this go round. And I missed some water polo already, don't know if it's over yet. Couldn't care less about basketball - I think it's unfair that pros can go to the games.

It's nice to see something sportwise on the tube besides the usuals: baseball, football, basketball & racing (though I have to admit to watching more soccer). Except for a few odd ones here and there like bowling or billiards, it's a pretty limited menu.

posted by chewatadistance 11 August | 14:02
How so?

Because medals identical in every single aspect but design would have been awarded elsewhere. Or are you aware of actual Tibetans killed in the production of these specific medals?

I am in no way making light of Tibet's fight for freedom, I just think the vitriol towards these Olympic Games, purely for being held in China, is misplaced, and comments like the "medals are steeped in Tibetan blood" are histrionic.
posted by goo 11 August | 14:22
I like anything that gets people from opposing countries to interact in a non-military setting. A few of those people will figure out that those OTHER people are just people, and not their governments.

And small_ruminant pretty much sums it up.
posted by goo 11 August | 14:29
When i watched the opening ceremonies with the drumming, it just made me think of school, and the commercial breaks ruined it for me besides the whole political context, especially the part with the "diversity" kids and the soldiers.
i'm "boycotting" as much as possible, because i love Chinese things and it's such an old culture but there is no reason for the Olympics to be there except for everyone publicly sucking up to them for the economic prospects. Why any leaders are there when there is so much other stuff going on-- it just highlights this negligent attitude.

There seems no scruples about journalistic bias at all any more. The rah rah business always bugs me.
posted by ethylene 11 August | 15:17
Because medals identical in every single aspect but design would have been awarded elsewhere.

Way to take that rhetorical flourish literally.

See, the Olympics aren't just being "held" in China. They were awarded to China, despite quite a lot of really brutal suppression of regional minorities ("Tibet's fight for freedom") and the kind of speech limitations that usually garner international opprobrium. The Games are a prestige piece, they're political spectacle, and they make a lot of money and friends for the host country.

There's quite a lot to it. But I think I'm wasting my time, since I'm responding to "Oh bullshit," to an unexplained accusation of specious reasoning, and to a willfully literal reading of what is obviously a rhetorical flourish summing up an entirely ignored discussion of why I think these Olympics are tainted.

I'm not interested in putting much more into this conversation, considering the return on my investment.
posted by Hugh Janus 11 August | 15:21
MAN did I get into curling two years ago. I've just discovered that there's a curling facility only minutes from my workplace. I don't know if I'm ready to jump in and try it, but I'll certainly be going to some competitions!
posted by SpiffyRob 11 August | 15:26
≡ Click to see image ≡

Sometimes my daily "moderate" newspaper does priceless stuff.
posted by danf 11 August | 15:54
HJ - you're apparantly not participating in this convo anymore, but I'll respond anyway. I completely agree with you that China's blatant human rights violations are ignored by the US and the UN to serve political and economic objectives. It's a shame and it's disgusting that they can get away with it.

On the other hand, I enjoy the Olympics. I love sports and the triumph of mind over physical limitations. It's incredibly moving to see China's public cheering for a Japanese gold medalist, or for a Sudanese Lost Boy. Yes, the Olympics is an excuse for China to sweep all the bad under the table and to chant, in unison, how awesome and powerful they are, but it also casts an spotlight on their crappy practices. Yes, the NBC coverage is uniformly brown-nosing, but thankfully many people no longer rely on broadcast TV as their sole source of news.

I can go on about the value and worth of the Olympics in general, especially to female atheletes who struggle to find outlets for competition and endorsement deals, but I'm unclear as to whether you object to the Beijing Olympics specifically, the Olympics in general, or to sports even more generally.
posted by muddgirl 11 August | 15:58
The only TV here is hooked up to a DVD player with a missing remote.
posted by Ardiril 11 August | 15:58
I also don't think the comparison amounts to much more than a cheap shot, whether for laughs or for reals.

It was just an honest mistake, my friend.
posted by box 11 August | 16:34
I said some general stuff, and some specific stuff too. China's been extra-repressive in the run-up to the Games, and it stinks. I've heard many people say the Olympics are about the athletics, let's keep politics out of it. I see the Olympics as being about politics, then athletics. I see that they've always been that way. I can go on and on about the value of sports; the Olympics have been about politics and controversy for a very long time. I often like the Olympics. I see supporting the Beijing Olympics as supporting Beijing. Which I don't think is cool, considering their internal policies.

For what it's worth, It's not this convo in which I'm no longer participating; it's any discourse in which my interlocutor starts with "Oh bullshit," ends with "This is specious reasoning," and does absolutely nothing to fill the middle.

But really, and I now see on preview that I've been way too heavy-handed and sensitive (probably due to the police crawling around my office right now) and I'm letting outside stress hit my keyboard, but I gotta stand up for myself somewhere, ya know? I don't take it personally, but I am a little frustrated.

Deep down inside I love you all. Sorry I can't make it plainer. And sorry to be such a bugbear.
posted by Hugh Janus 11 August | 16:45
I think that, on the whole, I'm the last person who should point fingers at anyone else for being "too sensitive" or for bringing RL shit to online conversations.

It seems to me that China learned much about putting on a show of tolerance from the good ol' US. I was not surprised, for example, to read that China was making liberal use of so-called "free speech zones". And furthermore, it seems to me like the US has been China's biggest enabler, right down to Prez. Bush attending a "state-approved" church service.
posted by muddgirl 11 August | 16:52
I couldn't agree more. Appeasement brought us Godwin, among other things.
posted by Hugh Janus 11 August | 16:55
it's any discourse in which my interlocutor starts with "Oh bullshit," ends with "This is specious reasoning," and does absolutely nothing to fill the middle.

Sounds like 15% of the internet, but only cuz another 80% does not know the word 'specious'.
posted by Ardiril 11 August | 16:55
Off-topic, but I see Ardiril's argument all the time and I like it less each time I see it. "The internet is full of fuckwaffles" is not a good excuse for being a fuckwaffle. (not that I think anyone was being a fuckwaffle in this thread)
posted by muddgirl 11 August | 17:04
It's not an argument, it's an observation. Very little on the internet is even worth reading, let alone responding. This place is like an oasis.
posted by Ardiril 11 August | 17:07
But really, and I now see on preview that I've been way too heavy-handed and sensitive

I think so Hugh, and I think we could have a good conversation about this, with fewer rhetorical flourishes. Perhaps another time.
posted by goo 11 August | 19:52
I think the Olympics are a waste of time and human effort that could be better spent in a multitude of ways.


oh, i hear all of this, and the tibetan blood comment and i think that there will always be bad people doing bad things that just breaks my heart. i'm less than a sports fan than anyone else on the planet and yet being a flaming liberal i see the olympics this way: there is so much bad in the world, so much strife, so many efforts of humanity that are intended to hurt others that in this one little case, in this one little three week duration something wonderful happens. many of the world meeting in one little blip: here are the nations of the world coming together in the spirit of competition and good will. here are individuals of every nation simply playing sports with each other in positive and non-injurous methods and i think that's just wonderful. our world never seems to do this in any other instance that however symbolic and political anyone can angle on any event, at least there's an opposing angle on this that says that humanity can and does at least does this... maybe it's just the tiny spark of a more hopeful future. it's so minor yes, but considering all we do to hurt ourselves, our nature and our world, it's truly an accomplishment.

now i invite you all to go switch mouthwatch to get my sugar off your tastebuds.

that being said, i'm the original hater of NBC olympics coverage. for crying out loud, did Costas have to be such a freaking moron? did anyone else see his freakout at the first Bella Karolyi interview yesterday eve? what a dick.
posted by eatdonuts 11 August | 21:43
Here's a story of what I consider good about the Olympics.

In 1976, my family moved to England for a year. I was seven. Obviously, it was an Olympic year, and I excitedly watched the games, cheering for team USA without any reflection.

Until I saw Nadia Comeneci perform. She was...perfect. Truly, truly perfect. And she was a girl, not much older than my sister. From a country I'd never heard from. Doing miraculous things.

And I knew then, instinctively, that having been born American was just a crapshoot. I could have been born in Romania just as easily; I could have been a boy or a girl; dirt-poor or a princess; African or European or Asian. My having been born American was just chance; it didn't make me better or worse than anyone else on the planet, and it didn't make my point of view or my country superior.

I knew it because I saw Nadia when I was 7 years old.
posted by scody 12 August | 01:35
Perhaps another time.

No. I regret bringing it up here and probably won't try again.
posted by Hugh Janus 12 August | 07:53
It's not an argument, it's an observation. Very little on the internet is even worth reading, let alone responding.

I probably put words in your mouth/head, so I apologize. I've got sort of a knee jerk reaction to that phrase, because it IS often used as a tool to get people to shut up and stop pointing out nasty behavior.
posted by muddgirl 12 August | 09:33
Cool Hugh. I hope I can buy you a beer next time I'm in NYC.
posted by goo 12 August | 11:56
Absolutely, goo; sorry to be so prickly. I'm really a fairly genial fellow in person. No hard feelings.
posted by Hugh Janus 12 August | 12:11
Vote for your favorite NYC subway artist || An on-screen headline during one of Grace's three shows on this topic screams:

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