Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Spanning the Globe?

Growing up in the 60s and 70s, I looked forward every 4 years to the Olympics. It provided viewers like yours truly with the opportunity to watch athletes from around the world as they competed for gold, silver and bronze medals in some sports I knew nothing about like curling or the pentathlon. It was a celebration of the world, the coming together of people from different lands and different perspectives.

In the old days, the Olympics were shown on ABC. As fellow sportscaster Curt Gowdy once said, "When you think of the Olympic Games on television, you think of Jim McKay." The broadcast every four years focused on the human interest stories of athletes from many countries and viewers could take as much pride in a African or European athletic victory as in a US or Canadian one.

My how times have changed!! Flip on the TV today and you would think that ONLY American athletes are competing in this year's Winter Olympics. While I'm not glued to the broadcast like many people, I have watched several events. In each one I've watched thus far, I've been able to learn about US athletes and watch their performances, but often have missed the medal preformances of any other athletes.

It's almost like "US skier Joe Blow finishes in 38th place and, oh by the way, 3 people with names we're not going to try to pronounce won the race or competition".

Look, I have no problem with any nation -- including the US -- promoting and showcasing their own athletes first. However, there is a huge difference between promoting your own and excluding the rest. This goes a long way toward explaining why I no longer watch the Olympics with the same amount of interest as before.

In fact, I'm almost to the point in which I refuse to watch the NBC broadcast. Almost every word spoken by the announcers is dripping with glitzy, self-righteous nationalism. It drives me right up the wall.

It's most fortunate that one of networks featured in my cable package is the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC). While the CBC features Canadian athletes front and center, unlike their US counterparts, they don't exclude the exploits of other athletes at the same time.

It harkens me back to the days of Jim McKay and the celebration of athletes from around the world coming together to compete in the realm of sports.

7 comments:

  1. I agree. I, too, grew up in the 60s and 70s and enjoyed watching the Olympics back then. Not anymore--mostly because of the rampant nationalism you mention. The Olympics aren't supposed to be about the U.S. or any other individual country, to the exclusion of the rest--they're supposed to be about all the participating countries coming together in a worldwide celebration of athletic skill and sportsmanship. It's hard to feel good about the U.S. when it acts so immature and self-centered.

    Thanks for articulating what I've been feeling for years.

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  2. How horrible it must be for you - all this pride in the USA. LOL

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  3. I haven't watched the Olympics much, but it seems like every time I watch, it's either skating or gymnastics. (I haven't watched anything yet this year.)

    Nothing wrong with those 2 sports, but I could've sworn there were dozens of other events too.

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  4. are the olympics on? huh, who knew. anybody skiing drunk?

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  5. I loved the Olympics as a kid - it was such a big deal. We grew up with so many fine Olympic athletes as role models. Who have we got today?

    And the coverage now sucks. I've hated the games ever since NBC got ahold of them. This year they can't even get the name of the frickin' host city right - they hafta make it sound like a damn sports car or something.

    NBC sucks.

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  6. Great post, Trey.

    Remember the Up Close & Personal features they would do on individual athletes? I loved those.

    Sigh. I miss Jim McKay.

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  7. Plus, the commentators are idiots! "Oh, he took a bad line through that corner!" - talking about luge - and the guy puts up a fast time!

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