Let me first begin by saying I love the Olympics. For three weeks every four years, I thoroughly enjoy immersing myself in international sports while at the same time learning personal interest stories of fabulous places like Guinea Bissau, the Maldives, and Azerbaijan. I admit the sports I enjoy are fairly traditional: swimming, gymnastics, running (track, no field), rowing, cycling, triathlon but I have been known to enjoy a lot of things in the spirit of the games.
So why is it that I am terribly disappointed this year? I have worked hard to over look the issues in China (human rights much?) to enjoy the games, but alas, I find that NBC (my favorite network) is killing that enjoyment for me this year. I am increasingly disappointed by the singular focus on Chinese/American match-ups to the neglect of other countries in sports like gymnastics. I am frustrated by the lack of respect shown to athletes who win, heaven forbid, a silver or bronze medal as the TV coverage spends their time waxing poetic about Michael Phelps in his gold medals. Don’t get me wrong, his feats are spectacular but he doesn’t win relays alone and he isn’t the only American athlete OR the only athlete to win gold.
I understand the evening coverage is fighting the battle of a 12 hour time difference and the internet giving scores and results before they can be seen to a television audience. This has certainly had an impact on the coverage. Yet, could we not just admit that this is an issue to the public and say, “we are showing the women’s gymnastics tomorrow, if you don’t want to know who won, don’t look at the internet!”???
Last night, my heart was crestfallen as I worked very hard to stay up late to see the competition. I realize I’m an early-to-bed girl, but 8-10 year old girls in pony tails across the country, particularly on the East Coast, probably had a hard time getting the chance to watch their heroes compete last night. That makes me sad, as I remember watching (and videotaping) hours of coverage from 88,92,96, and 2000. We cheered, we cried, we pretended to do the compulsory routines and we got to know the gymnasts. I realize that dvr exists to deal with things like this, but it is just not the same.
The Olympics were created to put the entire world on display. To bring athletes from around the world to communicate in the arena of sport. It is a true shame that, for whatever reason, the decision makers at the tv networks (or whomever made the decisions) have decided to ignore most of the rest of the world and even most of the athletes.
I pray that all of the athletes, from the US and globally, feel as though their participation alone is reason to be praised. I hope dearly that our US athletes who are not covered at all by the US media know that they represent the country just as well as those who smash records and win medals.
Higher, Faster, Stronger. For everyone, everywhere.