Various thoughts and observations from vegetating in front of the television during the Olympic coverage on NBC's Family o' Networks.
At the moment, they've only been showing events on NBC and NBC Sports. Nothing yet on MSNBC and CNBC. While I'm waiting for them extending to these other networks, the advantage for us professional non-stop watchers is less and easier channel hopping. And they've been doing a very good job on NBC Sports. I was a little disappointed that NBC's first late-night coverage was re-showing some of the days competition, rather then bits of less-watched events and featurettes and more interviews, but that'll likely (hopefully) come as the Games go on. But what was good is that switching over the NBC Sports at 1 AM, they started 10 hours of live coverage! And for those concerned, no, I didn't keep watching, though I did record some of the overnight events, notably because I wanted to see the luge.
Speaking of the luge, the commentator mentioned, "This might look easy, but it isn't." My only thought was, "No, it doesn't look remotely easy. It looks nuts. They're going 85 MPH downhill lying unprotected on their back!!" In fairness, from some angles, it doesn't look as dangerous as from others. But when lugers swoooosh around a corner, or when the camera is down low, sled-level, it looks insane.
The U.S. women's hockey team (one of my favorites of the games) was terrific in their opening game, winning 3-1 against Finland, but it wasn't that close. Finland didn't score until there were four minutes left in the game, and the U.S. out-shot them almost 4-to-1.
I don't know why they give style points for ski jumping. You'd think that whoever jumps farthest would win. This is the Winter Olympic of long jumping at the Summer Games. For that, the winner is the person who jumps the longest. They don't deduct style points if you don't look good doing it. I'm also sorry that thus far the ski jumping has been at night. Half the fun of watching the event is seeing them soar against the panorama of mountain rangers in the background. That's a tad difficult when its pitch black.
One of the skating commentators on NBC Sports is former U.S. ice dancer Tanith Belbin, who's the girlfriend of U.S. ice dancer Charlie White, the gold medal favorite. Thus far she's been respectably objective, a subject they touched on with host Dan Patrick. She did have one hiccup, though not on this subject. Patrick asked an interest question -- "Why is that with women, you have someone like [Russia's] Julia Lipnitkaia who's 15 and a gold medal contender, when with Jason Browne [of the U.S.] who's 19 some people are saying that he's too young?" Belbin answered, "Oh, I haven't heard that at all!" and expanded on her answer. But Patrick, being an actual sports journalist came back with his facts (I suspect to defend him asking the question), saying, "The reason I asked that is because the last American teenager to skate in the Olympics was in 1976." (For those math-challenged, that's 38 years ago.) Faced with that state, Ms. Belbin gave a more thoughtful answer about maturing in the sport.
In addition to simply not liking the freestyle skiing and sledding events, finding them more "fun-ish to watch" than interesting Olympic sports, what makes them even less fun to watch for me is the announcing. Over the years, the analysts have been so close to the competitors and the sport that they act like bubbly fanboy cheerleaders, shouting their joy at almost everything. If you want to be taken as a serious sport, then announce and present it like a serious sport, not a carnival barker hawking the rubes. The problem is that I don't think the events, goofy as they are in intent ("Look how high his arms got on that windmill!") lend themselves to especially serious analysis. But they sure could try at least, and do somewhat better.
More to come.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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