Friday, February 21, 2014

The Olympics: A non-fan's view

I've mentioned on several occasions in the past that I don't watch much Olympics.  I love sports and watch my fair share of games on television.  You've read about my watching Little League games, my love for college football and basketball, softball, the Red Sox and Patriots and other NFL teams and many other events including auto rading.  In my younger days I preferred to watch games in person.

There are certain parts of TV coverage I simply do not watch.  I don't like pre- and post-game shows.  I watch halftime shows of football games so I can get caught up on other games taking place at the same time.  Although hockey in person is great,  I can't watch it on TV as I simply can't keep up with the puck.  I love basketball; I totally dislike the NBA.

I've never played on an organized team, but I have been a baseball umpire and a swimming official.

That's a background to get me back to the Olympics.  Since I do love watching good sports, I was wondering why I've turned against watching the Olympics.  So these past few days I've tuned in to see what turned me away.  It didn't take long.  It's the coverage of the games and the NBC announcing staff.   I also don't like sports in which winners are chosen by judges.  The news out of Sochi Friday morning made it even clearer.

I'll start there.  Controversy about the judges in ice skating once again reared its ugly head.  The reports say that some of the judges were changed at the last minute and at least two of the judges who influenced the outcome of the Salt Lake City skating events in 2002 and, to a lesser degree, in Canada in the last games.  According to the reports, deals were made that would lead to the outcome.  From the news reports this morning, apparently similar deals were once again reached to be sure a Russian received the Gold Medal.

I did not watch the women's finals Thursday, but I have read several reports about the judging and the outcome.  As one of the skaters said, "It's hard to understand how  skater who falls can get a higher score than skaters who skated cleanly."

The IOC (International Olympic Committee which oversees the games) said there isn't any controversy and that the judging was fair.  The Committee's assertion has been backed by several skaters, including some American skaters.  My suspicious nature, however, knows the skaters are also protecting their futures.

As I said, I didn't see the competition so I can't offer my opinion of what happened.  History, however, makes the whole scene suspicious.  We'll probably never know the truth. 

Now the NBC coverage.  I'm not sure that the announcers know the Olympics are about the athletes competing and not about themselves.  My stopwatch's battery had died so I couldn't do any timing.  However, in the little while I did watch, I'll bet it was a rather low ratio of events compared to stories and commercials. 

I must admit my home health nurse visited me this morning.  I affectionately call her my teenage nurse but she just chuckles and says she's much older than she looks.  Of course, since she's a registered nurse, and an excellent people person, I know she isn't a teenager.  We were talking about the TV coverage of the Olympics and she said she especially enjoyed some of the little stories that were told about the competitors.

Personally, I much prefer the events.  Heavens, Nancy Kerrigan was a skater 20 years ago, and a marginally good one even then.  But we heard all about her episode of being slugged again.  She wasn't even a competitor in these Olympics. 

I won't spend any time on the subject, but Bob Costas has for years added very little to sports coverage.  Nothing changed in the last two weeks, except we did learn the network would survive without him..

Of course the morning Today Show is a valuable part of the network coverage.  The crew does a pretty credible job chatting with...I hesitate to say, "Interviewing"...the competitors in the morning.  I have yet to figure out what Savannah Guthrie's role is except her normal non-Olympic one of giggling.  If that crew were just one half as good as they think they are, they'd be great.  But the inside jokes simply leave me cold.

The Olympic coverage ends this weekend.  I'm probably the only sports fan in America that won't miss it.  I certainly won't be looking forward to the next games in two years.


No comments: