The Winter Olympic Games are over and I have to say they were the weirdest
Winter Olympics I've ever witnessed. There were surprising losses (Canada's loss
in hockey) and surprising winners (Italy's gold in speed skating). The oddest,
however, were the accidents and spinouts. You'd expect to see accidents and
injuries in skiing and the luge, but ice dancing?!?! Who'd a thunk it? In
general, it was the most entertaining Winter Olympics I think I've ever watched.
Too bad about the dreadful broadcast coverage during the first week, however.
I've always crowed about how lucky I am to live in an area that receives CBC
(Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) because, unlike NBC, for every Olympic Games
(winter and summer) they have live coverage all night and all day long and taped
coverage only when necessary. For the first week, however, it seems all CBC
covered live during the day was hockey and curling. Curling and hockey. Then
more curling. Then some hockey. Sure, other events were broadcast (especially if
a Canadian was competing), but only for a few moments (often from tape) stuck in
between the hockey. Or curling. I know hockey is important, popular and plays a
prominent role in the Olympics, but c'mon! This wasn't the Hockey and Curling
Games, it was the Olympics. I've never cared for hockey myself and curling is a
very boring game to watch (even people I know that love to curl can't stand to
watch it). Two hours of grown men chasing a little black sphere up and down the
ice or people sliding big rocks with handles towards a target just doesn't do it
for me. Over on NBC, the few hours of taped Olympic coverage per day seemed to
focus on figure skating. When there was no figure skating - you guessed it -
they aired hockey in between their commercials. Unlike previous years, no single
channel had a stranglehold on Olympic coverage, so there was no excuse for
airing the same hockey game at the same time on all five channels available to
me (which happened more than once). When you also consider that many other
networks were airing repeats in order not to lose ratings to the Olympics,
February Sweeps looked like anything but.
Thankfully, after the first week, both NBC and CBC got a clue and started airing
other events and moved a lot of the hockey and curling games to their cable
channels (CNBC in the U.S.; TSN in Canada). Both NBC and CBC began covering
multiple events (live on CBC, of course) and had very enthusiastic commentators
- whether their respective country was competing or not. I saw more medal
ceremonies than I'd ever seen before - and they weren't always just the
ceremonies that had U.S. or Canadian athletes. The main difference I noticed
between the American and Canadian coverage was the commentators' attitude. On
CBC, they were respectful and focused their comments on the positive - which
country had won medals; which had high hopes; how some countries had improved
their amateur sports programs, etc. NBC, on the other hand, was overwhelmingly
negative - repeating every country's scandals, wars and disputes and how it
affects Americans. I found NBC's comments distasteful, inappropriate and
shameful. I guess it's true what they say about Canadians being overly polite.
Despite this, I enjoyed these Olympics more than the 2002 games: the
broadcasting was better (few shlocky bios for one thing) and the events were
more engaging (due in no small part to the commentators). It will be interesting
to see what the broadcasting will be like come 2010 when the Winter Olympics
will be held in Vancouver. Will NBC actually cover anything live and not trash
anyone? Will CBC cover something other than hockey or curling and not crow
incessantly about the games being held in Canada? Stay tuned.
Some Olympic highlights:
Opening Ceremony Coverage
CBC's live coverage of the opening ceremony was typically Canadian. The
commentators were enthusiastic, polite and gave every country's contingent their
due without mocking them - not even the lone Ethiopian athlete (which I couldn't
help snickering at). NBC couldn't seem to stop reminding everyone of the
politics and scandals of each and every country and mocking everything and
everyone. The most ridiculous exchange I heard was about Iceland. One
commentator sarcastically said "you'd think with a name like Iceland..."
(implying they should win a lot of medals), then went on to say what an
important American tourist destination Iceland is. Moron.
Bob Costas - NBC Olympic Primetime. Why oh why is Costas still anchoring the
Olympics? He's an idiotic drama queen and doesn't have the respect for the
Olympics that they deserve. Toss him. Now.
Brian Williams - CBC Primetime. Bob Costas could take lessons from Williams on
how to cover important international sporting events like the Olympics.
Most Lame Olympic Event
Biathlon. Skiing and shooting? Who thought that one up?
Sport I Never Thought I'd be Caught Dead Watching (never mind enjoying)
Ice Dancing Short Program. I've never watched ice dancing ever before,
but when I kept hearing of all the falls and injuries, I tuned it. I know it's
wrong, but I couldn't help finding it funny.
Best Example of Poor Sportsmanship
Finland's alpine skier Kalle Palander breaking his ski poles in fury after
missing a gate and being disqualified. Big baby.
Best Example of Good Sportsmanship
Norwegian coach Bjornar Haakensmoen handing a ski pole to Canada's cross country
skier Sara Renner after hers broke in the middle of the race, then being
bewildered by Canada's ensuing appreciation after Canada ended up winning the
silver medal in the event.
Medal ceremony of the men's 1,500 M speed skating. Italy's gold medalist Enrico
Fabris had the Italians waving a veritable ocean of Italian flags, singing the
Though both CBC's and NBC's websites were very good, CBC takes the edge by being
slightly easier to navigate and a little faster.
A Thunk on the Head
To CBC for their focus on hockey and curling. To NBC for once again interrupting
their regularly-scheduled commercials to cover the Olympics.
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