August 22, 2008

Olympic Rant

Tyson Gay drops the baton
So those who know me know that track and field is my sport. I do tend to play a lot of ultimate these days, but I didn't play ultimate in college because track consumed my time even more so than ultimate does now. So naturally whenever the sport takes center stage (and actually gets some TV coverage), it's always exciting to watch. The 2007 World Championships in Osaka had surprisingly impressive television coverage. Even with the tape delay, a week long blitz of world class track performances on TV was awesome. The 2008 Olympic Trials? Nicely done with a lot of live action (although I was a bit annoyed that the parallel swimming trials took more of the TV spots with Phelps-mania).

So how about the 2008 Olympic Games? I'm sorry, but NBC totally dropped the ball (baton?) on this one. Where do I begin?
  • It was clear that Phelps dominated the headlines for these Olympics. The hype was so strong, that the IOC scheduled all of the swimming finals for the morning in Beijing so that they could get live primetime slots in the United States. I must admit, that they hit a home run on this one, and if you're a real swimming fan, then you got a great show. What about track and field though? No morning finals: zero. That meant no live primetime coverage for any of the track events.
  • So maybe asking for live primetime coverage for events that are occurring on the other side of the world is a bit too much to ask. Ok, it is too much to ask. This meant that most of the track and field finals were scheduled between 7pm and 10pm in Beijing which translates to between 7am and 10am on the east coast in the United States. I can live with that, I'll just get up in the morning and catch the events I want to watch live right? Right? Wrong. Because NBC wanted all of the track and field coverage to be in primetime, they tape delayed it. Arg!
  • Ok NBC, so you want your primetime coverage? I suppose I can understand that. This is 2008, though, which means you'll have live streaming coverage of any event that I want to watch on the internet. I'll just watch what I'm interested in there; no big deal. What? I can't do that either? Nope. NBC is only making live event streaming available for events that they're not covering on TV (or events that nobody watches anyways). Even better, they're not making any replay coverage available for track events that have already occurred until after the primetime, tape-delayed TV spots have aired.
  • Ok well fine; maybe this isn't so bad. The world championships in Osaka were tape delayed and I loved them. I'll give in and watch your primetime TV coverage. But wait? When are you showing the track events? You're sprinkling them all throughout your four hour nightly coverage?! So you mean if I want to watch all of the track and field action from the night before I need to sit through four hours of gymnastics, beach volleyball, diving, water polo, and everything else so that every half an hour you'll show me one or two track events?! You've got to be kidding.
Ah well, I guess it wouldn't be the Olympics without poorly executed television coverage. With regards to the actual action on the track, though, it has been something else to watch Usain Bolt annihilate the sprinting competition and take down a 200m world record that some thought would stand up for 50+ years. I remember seeing him live and in person in 2005 when I went to the Reebok Grand Prix track meet in NYC. He smoked the competition then and he was only 18 years old. He also looks even bigger in person.

I've been reading rumblings of him possibly running in the 4x400m for Jamaica in tomorrow's final. Now that would be something, but there's no way Jamaica stands a chance against the United States juggernaut of basically all of the best 400m flat runners and 400m hurdlers in the world led by Merritt and Wariner. The 4x400m is such a high intensity and high drama event in the high school and college versions of the sport (loved it!). On the world stage, though, it is disappointingly anti-climactic. A rant for another day though.
Looking forward to Berlin 2009.

1 comment :

  1. Just another reason why "figure skating is better than track" ... We get all the television coverage during the winter olympics!!!! :-P ... Sorry O. Just had to do it ... ;)

    Furthermore ... at least you got to watch those few measly minutes of track on a 62" television! :)