Monday, August 13, 2012

7 Things: An Olympic Review

1. I acknowledge that this is hard.  There are a lot of sports.  It is probably impossible to cover them all, especially since people might want to tune into your channel occasionally for things like local news.  Or morning shows.  Added to that, if my loved one was competing in the Olympics, I would want them shown.  There are a lot of loved ones out there, and not just on team USA. 
2. I acknowledge that sports are unpredictable.  A lot of these, erm, human interest pieces had to be done in advance, you know, when the athlete had time in their schedule to hang out and show the reporter their dogs or their bedroom or what have you. So, if you have a queued up piece about person who just kerplunked (where we assume kerplunking is bad) it's not like you have a spare about someone else lying around. And hey, the story behind the kerplunker is still interesting, but I get that sometimes you can't just whip out the piece about that other athlete that just did that amazing thing that no one expected.
3. The audience has better access to information nowadays.  I'm not saying the internet was just invented or anything. (And hey, as a UU, I knew who Tim Berners-Lee was before the opening ceremonies.) But I do think people are more accustomed to receiving news via the internet and gathering it from multiple sources.  So, the veil of what will happen in the events that are time-shifted, well, that's not working so much anymore.
4. Now that we all know that it's time shifted, the suspense feels false. I understand, for example, from a drama standpoint why you would spend long moments of footage showing people staring up at the results board, but the reality is that I may already have this info.  So, now, I'm wondering why you couldn't cram some, what's it called, actual sports in there instead.  And when these long moments are occurring late into my bedtime, I have less patience for the manufacturing of the moment. 
5. Sports announcing is a tricky thing.  You have to find a balance between educating your audience to subtle nuances of a sport they may only watch every four years and not saying the same thing over and over again. It's hard not to fall back on cliches (whoever scores most wins (except in golf), falling is bad, speed is good, etc).  I am much more forgiving of such things when I know the announcers are watching this live and just responding off the cuff.  Given that the live coverage and the delayed coverage have different announcers, it seems hard to believe that this is really, truly off the cuff.  (It may be.  I am simply skeptical.)  And well, when you have the benefit of the results, it's easy for the announcers to start seeing weaknesses in people who won't fall for another two minutes. 
6. Given that time delay, and I say this knowing I have never attempted to televise anything ever, so am probably not truly understanding the scope of what's involved, why isn't the commentary, well, better.  Why did no one look at the script that said "racial barriers fell a long time ago" and say, you know, that kinda sounds like we're saying racism is all fixed now, maybe we should revisit that. Why did no one spend a little more time digging up more info and tidbits about the athletes who shined a little bit more than expected?  And why did no one come up with a better way to segue into asking the very first American to win a judo gold medal about being molested? 
7. I understand that sometimes when the scope of what you could cover is so huge, you have to create filters.  So, okay, Olympic coverage will focus on things Americans tend to watch, things Americans are expected to do well in, things with really amazing stories.  (Like, a runner with no legs.)  But, the other side of this is that I am tuning in for international coverage.  When else will I get to see Spanish or Italian beach volleyball players? My recollection is that the last two Olympics had a lot of straight coverage.  A lot of it was relegated to cable channels, but I could watch a whole volleyball game and not get bounced back and forth (no pun intended) to shots of the semifinals of this and the teaser of that.  I realize that in order to show one thing straight through other things have to be tape delayed, it's the nature of the beast, but I like the idea that if I tune in now I can watch X, not a dash of X, a smidge of Y, a teaser of Z, and oh yes a retrospective look back to something from four Olympics ago that has no actual bearing on any of the current participants, that's annoying.  So, really, if I know I'm being time shifted and tape delayed, then being bounced back and forth so they can draw out the things they think I care about in between the other stuff, that's terribly annoying.