September 16, 2000
Olympic Commentators - Less Necessary than a Bullet in the Head
by mike <email@example.com>
Last night was a momentous occasion. The 27th Olympiad was kicked off in Sydney, Australia in front of 3 billion people on television. The Opening Ceremonies, perhaps one of the most anticipated theatrical productions of a given decade, are revered for their originality and symbolism.
And now, thanks to NBC, they'll be remembered for all but spoiling the two and a half weeks of Games to come. For some reason, NBC thought that the ceremonies required constant blather from two "respected" commentators: Bob Costas and Katie Couric. This proved to be entirely untrue.
Tell me something. Why, when I see a man on TV, by himself, ride into the center of the arena on a horse, do I need Bob Costas to explain to me that, "...a lone horseman enters the arena?" I find that both insulting and a good way to spoil the solemn silence that had befallen the arena as the ceremony got underway. Bob Costas is like one of those guys who comes in out of the snow and says, "Damn, it's cold out there." PFFT.
The golden rule of real estate is "Location, location, location." The same holds true for journalism - the order in which you place segments to be aired on TV can vastly change the tone of the broadcast. So why, unless they were intentionally attempting to spoil the Games, did NBC decide to air garbage about the alleged Salt Lake City "scandal?" Yes, these are the Sydney games. We'd better not forget to make sure everyone's in a bad mood by showing them stuff about Salt Lake City, which is still two years away.
As is custom, the evening culminated with the lighting of the Olympic Flame, which remains lit until the Closing Ceremony. This year's torch lighting was unusually complicated: the athlete with the torch stood in a pool of water and lit gas bubbles which formed the flame. Then, the platform of flames was raised several more feet to its final resting place atop the arena. Surely we, an audience that appreciates the intricacy of such an operation, can cut the designer a little slack should there be a delay. Well, the audience can. But not NBC! They couldn't refrain from commenting on how much of a "technical hangup" there was, and how the designer had probably "skipped a couple of heartbeats" during the hold up. For the love of God, please leave the arena and jump off a cliff.
This writer was sure to jump on the 'net during the broadcast and visit nbcolympics.com, the site they advertised every 45 seconds on NBC, and made darn sure they were aware of how poorly they were handling this rare event. I wasn't alone, either: thousands of people had also voiced their dismay with Costas & Couric's unnecessary blather. Hopefully, they'll get the picture.
The Olympic Games only take place once every two years. That means we've got until 2002 to find a new television station to cover them in Salt Lake City. Hell, I think the Cartoon Network could manage to zip their lips more than these people. I say we let the Power Puff Girls and Cow & Chicken broadcast next time. Who's with me?
Published: September 16, 2000