DISPATCHES
U.S. Media and the Olympics:
Uncommonly Stupid Arrogance
by Rob Schultheis
Aug 10, 2012 | 1985 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Every four years, American athletes perform incredible feats in the summer Olympic Games; tiny teenaged female gymnasts, lanky powerhouse swimmers, gazelle-like sprinters, and men and women who labor tirelessly in obscure sports like Greco-Roman wrestling and rowing to squeeze the best performances humanly possible out of their bodies and souls.

And every four years, American network television totally destroys the joy of watching the Games, with exhibitions of poor sportsmanship and loudmouthed

Flag-waving jingoism that has to be seen and heard to be believed.

We are seeing a bit less of the shameless excuses that announcers used to trot out to explain American losses – “Bumptruck hasn’t been the same since his favorite great uncle died seven years ago,” or “Feezefluke had a bad case of the sniffles three months ago or he would be the favorite for a gold medal”  – but the yahoos are still doing their best to totally suck the joy out of the Games.

It began with the incredible opening ceremonies,  an astonishing tour de force directed by Danny Boyle of Trainspotting and Slumdog Millionaire fame, when NBC cut away from the proceedings for a Ryan Seacrest interview with an American swimmer, and

continued on from there. A young Chinese swimmer sets a new world record? Oh, he’s been accused of doping (the fact that he was acquitted of the charges doesn’t stop Costas and his posse of pimps from going on and on and on about it). 

The top American beach volleyball team lost to Poland?  It was damp and rainy that night, terrible conditions to compete in (the American guys point out that both teams faced the same conditions, but the announcer has made her bogus point).

An American takes a bronze medal in a swimming event?  Forget the gold and silver medalists, the camera barely shows them and the announcer hardly mentions them in the rush to focus on the American, their relatives in the stands, and so on).  

When a French swimmer wins a gold, NBC plays the commentary of the French announcers, mocking their enthusiasm and excitement (ironically, no one could rival the incoherent high decibel yammering of the American commentators cheering on American athletes as they approach the finish line.) 

Whole sports like sailing are completely banished from view, because the U.S. isn’t competitive in them.

The problem isn’t our athletes:  the Great Phelps, for instance, is one of the most soft-spoken, good-humored chaps ever to appear on the athletic scene, and the American female gymnasts are all charmers.  No, the problem, as usual, is The American Media, one of the most corrupt, repulsive and stupid bodies of men and women in the history of Homo sapiens.   

Every time the summer Games roll around, I find myself thinking that this time the television nabobs will have come to their senses and decided to give the Olympics the coverage they deserve: stories on heroic efforts by tiny underdog nations, unexpected victories, obscure sports, the friendships between competitors from different countries, and every year I am disappointed again.  I thought the Olympic Games belonged to the whole world, and were about athletes, and the joys of striving, not nation-states trumping each other, but, alas, no; it’s all about drumming up advertising dollars by appealing to the lowest common denominator in the viewing public; athletics à la Limbaugh, Madison Avenue and Le Big Mac. 

Ptooie!

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