The Olympic "Ideal"

Love this from the Great Charles Pierce:

The one thing you can say for PEDs is that, at the very least, they completely blow up the made-for-TV, up-close-and-personal, artificial melodrama that has entombed the Olympic Games ever since Roone Arledge decided that the Olympics were not sport, but a 21-day drama festival, and ever since the late Bud Greenspan awoke one morning and decided he was Homer.

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    They need to go back to all-nude Olympics (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by Dadler on Mon Jun 25, 2012 at 04:12:09 PM EST
    Like ancient Greece.  I bet you'd get better ratings, if not more hernias and such.  Maybe olive branch sports-bras for the ladies, and support-cups of their own kind for the men.  That 100 meter sprint should be a flapper.  Ahem.

    What about (none / 0) (#27)
    by jbindc on Tue Jun 26, 2012 at 09:36:12 AM EST
    Shot put or Weightlifting?  

    Volleyball would be fun to watch.

    Actually, if they did the Winter Olympics in the nude, well, now, that would be something.


    All I know is that... (5.00 / 3) (#16)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Mon Jun 25, 2012 at 06:59:12 PM EST
    I'll be screaming at the TV when Missy Franklin, Lolo Jones and Taylor Phinney compete.  Probably bawling like a baby if any of them win too.

    all of Des Moines (none / 0) (#19)
    by desmoinesdem on Mon Jun 25, 2012 at 08:11:02 PM EST
    will be going nuts for LoLo (Des Moines native). People were devastated when she tripped on that hurdle four years ago.

    I imagine so... (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Mon Jun 25, 2012 at 08:20:09 PM EST
    since Shawn Johnson retired and golf's not an Olympic sport yet, so no Zack Johnson.  Lolo's got the perfect backstory for NBC to highlight as well.  

    Ya, and it was the subject of a (at least) (none / 0) (#28)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Tue Jun 26, 2012 at 12:21:00 PM EST
    1/2 hour profile last weekend during the US Olympic trials.

    In her final race in China 4 years ago, where she was far and away the fastest athlete in the race, she hit one of the last hurdles and came in about 8th.

    In races after that she started hitting more hurdles, where she had never hit them before.

    Turned out she had a physical problem with her spinal cord such that her brain did not know where her feet were.

    So she had surgery on her spinal cord, mucho recovery and physical therapy, and came in 3rd at the trials.

    That and growing up in a fairly disadvantaged home life, and being very photogenic, all make for a good story.


    So true (none / 0) (#1)
    by ruffian on Mon Jun 25, 2012 at 03:12:52 PM EST
    I love/dread the Olympics. The only way to watch it on NBC is on mute.

    I think instead of watching, I'll just (none / 0) (#2)
    by oculus on Mon Jun 25, 2012 at 03:16:47 PM EST
    read Mr. Pierce.  

    We tape and watch later, mute the sound (none / 0) (#3)
    by Angel on Mon Jun 25, 2012 at 03:18:30 PM EST
    and fast forward through Mary Carrilo because she is just so very, very lame and gets on our nerves.  

    Yeah (none / 0) (#4)
    by lilburro on Mon Jun 25, 2012 at 03:29:48 PM EST
    I used to love the Olympics when I was a little kid because it was a great chance to learn about athletes from different countries, see different names, faces, and sports, and use my imagination (what's it like to be a Finnish cross country skier from a town with 5,000 people in it, for example).  It was a lot more about that for me than it was about Olympic celebrities (although I do have fond memories of Bonnie Blair).  I suppose I have a miniseries-esque treatment of Michael Phelps' endorsement of Subway and enjoyment of marijuana to look forward to this year.

    I personally blame Bob Costas.  His commentary is always insipid and patronizing (IMO).  He's ruined Triple Crown coverage for years now.  Blech.

    Funny, I think Costas (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by brodie on Mon Jun 25, 2012 at 04:25:40 PM EST
    is one of the few notable things about NBC's Olympics coverage.  Smart, does his homework, asks relevant Qs, and usually doesn't engage in the myth making reporting so common in sports media.

    Other than Costas, I wish we still had ABC's capable and eloquent Jim McCay handling the anchoring with field reporters like Howard Cosell and that veteran announcer who still does MNF (name escapes me), with Arledge overseeing it all and not just feeding us stories about American athletes.  Much more of an international-flavored, Olympics spirit broadcast compared to nationalistic NBC.


    50 reasons to loathe the real McKay... (none / 0) (#15)
    by unitron on Mon Jun 25, 2012 at 05:33:01 PM EST
    During the opening of the LA Olympics, I think it was summer 84, they had like 50 grand pianos playing Gershwin.

    And McKay would not shut the F**K up!

    Jennings kept trying to give him subtle hints, but he was oblivious.

    And apparently no one bothered to whisper in his earpiece, either.


    Ah memories... (none / 0) (#17)
    by Dadler on Mon Jun 25, 2012 at 07:06:00 PM EST
    I worked at the '84 L.A. Games, fresh outta high school, still 17, and hauling out to Chino of all places, every morning for my job with the parking crew at the venue for the shooting events. 100+ degrees every day, with smog thick as peanut butter.  One afternoon, Princess Anne thanked me for moving a barricade for her limousine.  Some Chinese dude let me hold his gold medal.  And I got all the free Coke products I could drink.  It's a wonder I still have a bladder.

    Oh, and here's your piano performance.  McKay talks too much at the beginning, but he shuts up for a good portion (link).
    I remember being outside the Coliseum that day, wandering around with my best friend.  We ran into Tom Selleck, as I also recall, and this was in his prime Magnum PI days. He walked away from us and almost got mobbed by some ladies.  

    Thx for the YT clip (none / 0) (#23)
    by brodie on Tue Jun 26, 2012 at 08:44:49 AM EST
    So both McCay and Jennings talked over about equally but not too much.  I liked the pastel-trendy visuals, but really, 84 grand pianos supposedly playing Gershwin live all in sync (yeah right) with 84 dancers doing some odd gyrations that try to be yesteryear Olympics (LA 1932?).  A little tacky.  I would have talked over it too.

    A memorable Olympics though, even with the overly cooked Opening and even without the Russkies.

    And L.A. never had smoother flowing freeway traffic for those two weeks.  That's bec there had been such hysteria in the media about a traffic apocalypse in the months preceding that most Angelenos who could arranged to take their vacations during that period.  And local govt made all its workers go to flex time schedules.  Too bad that didn't continue -- once the Olympics were over, it was back to the usual stupid work schedules with everyone arriving and leaving at the same time, causing the usual daily traffic gridlock.


    The Miami Vice pastel color scheme was awful (none / 0) (#25)
    by Dadler on Tue Jun 26, 2012 at 09:01:14 AM EST
    I had to wear those colors all day.  

    Ah Miami Vice -- never saw it (none / 0) (#26)
    by brodie on Tue Jun 26, 2012 at 09:20:13 AM EST
    but I think you're right about the influence.  I didn't mind the colors of that era, more the big hair on women and the ugly shoulder pads.

    And the politics of the 80s of course.

    Overly commercialized Olympics too, but at least the taxpayers weren't stuck with a major bill at the end.


    I've always liked Costas (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by sj on Mon Jun 25, 2012 at 04:58:11 PM EST
    I first got to know of him when he was the host of "Later".  Those one-on-ones were bonafide interviews.  He had clearly done his homework and he asked questions without benefit of note cards.  

    Anyway, not being a sports fanatic, I just assumed he brought the same level of integrity to sports.  Plus I was glad he did his spiel without shouting.


    I don't watch sports except (none / 0) (#5)
    by oculus on Mon Jun 25, 2012 at 03:34:28 PM EST
    MLB sometimes.  But it is interesting to read the on air commentary in a restaurant when the sound isn't on.  Inane.  But I guess the broadcaster thinks every second must be filled with the human voice.  

    I still love the Olympics.... (none / 0) (#6)
    by magster on Mon Jun 25, 2012 at 03:41:47 PM EST
    I will watch as much as I can, and am glad I work from home to have it on in the background.

    That is a wonderful column (none / 0) (#7)
    by sj on Mon Jun 25, 2012 at 03:50:48 PM EST
    from Charles Pierce.

    Eaton's record-breaking (none / 0) (#8)
    by caseyOR on Mon Jun 25, 2012 at 03:56:37 PM EST
    performance in the decathlon was every bit as wonderful to behold as Charlie said. We love our home-grown athletes. Eaton not only attend the U of O, he was raised in Oregon.

    Not surprisingly, we are very big track and field fans out here in Oregon (Soccer is our other great sports love). Local sports reporters have been giving us daily reports are just everything happening in Eugene. Local coverage is much more focused on the athletic performances; less so on the sappy back-stories, unlike NBC.

    Why does NBC persist with the so-called "human interest" stuff? Is there anyone not working for NBC who prefers that drivel to actually watching the events?

    So, did he finally go ahead (none / 0) (#9)
    by jondee on Mon Jun 25, 2012 at 03:58:11 PM EST
    and have his name legally changed to "The Great Charles Pierce" after all?

    If Greenspan started getting the idea he was Homer, it was probably in part beacuse he took a look around at all the hyper-bitchy, anal retentive types like Pierce and concluded the times required one..

    "Artificial melodrama". You could make that same criticism of every single sporting event covered by the U.S media since the Dempsey-Firpo fight..Outlined against the blue-grey October sky, the four horsemen rode again..

    Tell us something we don't know.

    Well, before the PEDs and the (none / 0) (#10)
    by brodie on Mon Jun 25, 2012 at 04:08:06 PM EST
    artificial drama, there was the artificial amateurism enforced by uptight control freaks like Avery Brundidge who ruled the US Olympics roost for decades.

    Still for all the points Pierce makes, ABC did a superlative job broadcasting the Olympics -- live for the most part and usually noted on air when an event was shown tape delayed.  Also not quite as much singular focus just on American athletes -- the network decently covered areas where Americans weren't always in the gold medal hunt.  NBC of course is almost entirely US-centric in its coverage, plus the limited prime time only network broadcasting.  If memory serves, ABC broadcast Olympic events all day and night for two solid weeks.

    Now, I'm recalling mainly the Olympics on ABC in 1968, 1972 and 1984.  I didn't have a tv/was otherwise heavily engaged elsewhere for 1976 and 1980, and I couldn't tell you whether the network even went to Moscow.  That's the one Jimmy stupidly decided to boycott.

    If you can get it (none / 0) (#12)
    by jbindc on Mon Jun 25, 2012 at 04:15:58 PM EST
    The CBC's broadcast is very good.

    Did anyone watch (none / 0) (#22)
    by robert72 on Tue Jun 26, 2012 at 01:47:10 AM EST
    the BBC program on the Comedy Network last night called 'Twenty Twelve'? It stars Hugh Bonneville (the Earl of Grantham on Downton Abbey).
    It is done like a documentary of the preparations for the 2012 Olympics with a commentator, but is very English ridiculous..... Quite funny in parts and poor in others, but worth a look.

    I lived in Europe (none / 0) (#18)
    by desmoinesdem on Mon Jun 25, 2012 at 08:10:22 PM EST
    during the 1996 Olympics (Atlanta). I remember feeling embarrassed on behalf of Americans while watching the tv coverage of the gymnastics. The tv network I watched showed many competitors from many countries, but you could tell that the spectators in the venue were ONLY paying attention to what the American gymnasts were doing. Some girl from a country in Europe or Asia might be in the middle of a tricky balance beam routine, and there might be some huge roar of the crowd for something an American did on a different piece of equipment. Then the girl would finish her routine to virtual silence--not even polite applause from the crowd for a perfect dismount.

    Total lack of sportsmanship from my perspective. It's fine to cheer for your country, but at least acknowledge the athletes who have worked for many years to represent their countries.

    NBC's coverage is atrocious.

    Try living in Atlanta (none / 0) (#21)
    by kmblue on Mon Jun 25, 2012 at 08:58:31 PM EST
    during the Olympics.  I walked to work (not uphill in a snowstorm) because you simply could not drive anywhere.  Also walked to the Olympics--they could have made it a medal competition.

    I was embarrassed by Atlanta's hosting of the event.
    And I think that is what was meant when the prez of the Olympic Committee said ours was "a most interesting Olympics. " The City fathers were not amused by that one.  Also, it turns that Billy Payne, who brought the O's to Atlanta, made some fast and loose real estate deals for his own profit by buying land that--surprise--later hosted Olympic venues.  Whatta guy.


    Yeah it always struck me (none / 0) (#24)
    by brodie on Tue Jun 26, 2012 at 08:58:14 AM EST
    that Atlanta showed it was just too parochial a town, not exactly the sort of world class cosmopolitan place that is best suited to host such an event.

    And who were the geniuses who thought it would be okay to hold the Atlanta Games in the middle of the summer in the Deep South?  I was sweating profusely just watching on tv some of the sweltering daytime events.  So hot you could see the heat waves bending the air.


    The main thing I remember (none / 0) (#29)
    by Zorba on Tue Jun 26, 2012 at 04:00:21 PM EST
    about that Olympics was the Centennial Olympic Park bombing, the subsequent "trial by media" and harassment of the innocent Richard Jewell, his eventual exoneration, and the subsequent arrest and conviction of the notorious Eric Rudolph.
    The President of the Olympic Committee may have been referring to the bombing itself, BTW, not just the details of the hosting, when he called it "a most interesting Olympics."  Although I'm not sure that I'd refer to a bombing as "interesting," exactly.