Jump to content

Olympic Pet Peeves


Recommended Posts

Heiden is not a person who seeks out accolades, but he's well aware of the significance of his accomplishments. It was less a matter of his being upset over not being selected to light the torch, than disinterest in participating in a production that would put him in other than his proper place.

yeah, he made no bones about being passed over. He still stayed as the SpeedSkating team's doctor. I just related that little background story to show exactly what you said. Maybe it didn't come across like that -- but I too would have preferred he got the honor rather than the whole rowdy team!!

Edited by baron-pierreIV
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hieden's accomplishment is extrondinary. No team meals. No relays. No racing the same distance with a different stoke. He swept the podium in every event there was... from the sprint to the distance. We'll never see that again.

Oh, and it did it an outdoor rink. (Psst.... IOC... if you give a damn about saving money and making life easier on host cities, bring back outdoor rinks!)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My biggest pet peeve can't be attributed to the Games, but a bit to the media: Eric Heiden. The guy won 5 gold medals in a single Games - on his own national soil - and all anyone ever talks about when they discuss Lake Placid is the hockey team. I understand the drama of the hockey team's win, but Eric Heiden is probably one of the US' top winter Olympians ever and the guy's unbelievable athletic achievement has been reduced to a footnote.

I think if that happens at almost any other Olympics, he gets his due. That it happened in the same Olympics as the Miracle on Ice, he gets overshadowed. You're 100% right that's unfair to him though.

Hieden's accomplishment is extrondinary. No team meals. No relays. No racing the same distance with a different stoke. He swept the podium in every event there was... from the sprint to the distance. We'll never see that again.

Oh, and it did it an outdoor rink. (Psst.... IOC... if you give a damn about saving money and making life easier on host cities, bring back outdoor rinks!)

Don't forget that he set an Olympic record in all 5 events and smashed the world record in the 10,000. Easy to make an argument that's more impressive than what Phelps did in `08 (although he had prelims and semis to deal with)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

(Sidebar: Call it sacrilege to say this, but I have never understood Michael Phelps' hoarding. With 22 Olympic medals, 18 of them gold, he is essentially the Crazy Cat Lady of the Olympics.)

What's there to understand? Should Phelps not try as hard? Should he slow down near the finish to give someone else a chance to win so he isn't weighed down by all those medals? Or would you rather he just not compete in so much events? That's not going to happen.

Michael Phelps doesn't hoard medals. He wins them. He earns them through years or training, some G-d given talent, and maybe a little luck. If he's good enough to swim in 8 events (and he only gets there by qualifying and finishing ahead of everyone else), why shouldn't he swim in 8 events? Back in Beijing, the thinking was that he was probably good enough to win maybe 8-10 individual events had he focused on any 1 of them, but tough to train that way, let alone swim that much during an Olympics.

If you want crazy cat lady, how about Merlene Ottey? Competed at 6 Olympics for Jamaica. Then started competed for Slovenia. Try to run on their 4x100m relay team at the 2012 European Athletics Championships. At age 52. I'd almost put Dara Torres up there except she came within 1/100th of a second of winning a gold medal at age 41, so that's hardly unjustified.

Michael Phelps is (well was, at least) an athlete in his prime. He's allowed to compete in as many events as he wants to try qualifying for. If you want to think of him as the crazy cat lady of the Olympics, I'm sure he'll happily accept that designation and show you all 18 of his gold medals. At which point maybe you would appreciate the years of training and dedication it took him to earn those accomplishments.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have a lot of complaints about NBC Universal's Olympics coverage. But one thing that really pisses me off is that every two years, they build up many American athletes as not just gold medal favorites, but favorites to win multiple gold medals. I think that NBC plays a significant role in athlete's Olympic campaigns.

It wasn't necessarily always like this. Ever since Mark Spitz won 7 gold medals in Munich, subsequent US Summer Olympic teams have had at least one person who was touted to win wheelbarrows full of golds: Shirley Babashoff in 1976, Carl Lewis in 1984, Matt Biondi in 1988, and Michael Johnson in 1996. But then it kicked into overdrive when Marion Jones announced her Drive for Five in 2000 - and we all know what happened there. Since then, irrespective of the end results, most every American athlete has come into the Summer and Winter Olympics with gold medal hoarding potential. Winning one isn't enough; the more golds you can win, the more it benefits everyone involved, including NBC, who plays a significant role in the Olympic movement as the most lucrative broadcaster. NBC craves ratings and money, and there's no better way to guarantee that than turning athletes who would kill for one Olympic gold medal into athletes who would kill if they don't get eight gold medals. Is it talent that they're showing off, or just pure greed?

Here's the thing about this because you bring up a semi-valid point, but you need to understand where it's coming from. Back in 1984, there were no 24 hour cable sports channels. By 1996, there was still no cable coverage of the Olympics (thank you, Triplecast) and digital cable wasn't a reality yet. These days, we're in the age of social media and what's trending. An athlete like LeBron James plays just about every other day for the better part of 7 months (if his team makes it far enough). Even a football player like Peyton Manning is playing once a week for a few months every year. Olympic athletes have 1 shot every 4 years. And if they're only competing in 1 event, you're only going to see them a couple times. So NBC loves an athlete like a Phelps or a Lindsey Vonn who they can promote as someone you'll see a few times over. You're 100% right that NBC looks for those types of athletes. Yes, the more golds Lindsey Vonn wins, the more it benefits Lindsey Vonn. As if she's the only athlete that does that. Plenty of Olympics (skiers and swimmers perhaps being the most notable) do that. It's not just an American thing, even though NBC makes big promotion out of that. But I can assure you, those who are competing for multiple medals didn't get that way because of NBC. Probably not too many athletes out there who would say "nah, I'm okay with 1 medal, I don't need to compete in any more events, even though I'd been training for them." Athletes compete to win, whether it's 1 event or 8. Who would ever think of that as greed?

And now every American athlete is being touted as a potential Michael Phelps/Crazy Cat Lady. With Rio coming up, swimmer Katie Ledecky and gymnast Simone Biles are already being touted as the latest. Simone has won multiple world titles, and I would not be surprised if in a year's time, NBC plays up the possibility of winning as many as all six Olympic golds in women's artistic gymnastics.

No.. NBC will look for an athlete or 2 like that. Yes, Ledecky will be 1 of them in Rio. As if it's NBC's doing that she swam in 5 events at the World Championships and won all of them. Guess she's a hoarder too. Why shouldn't NBC promote the fact viewers will get to see her multiple nights rather than just 1 or 2. It's tough to promote Olympic athletes when most people aren't familiar with them. Contrast that with a basketball player or a baseball player who you get to see night in and night out. That's what NBC is up against when this crop of athletes that comes around for 2 weeks only has to compete for attention with all the other sports and athletes we see all the time. An athlete trying to win a gold medal comes and goes in a snap. An athlete chasing multiple medals you might get to follow for a couple of days before it's over.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I also think that NBC thinks that if any athletes other than the Americans become Crazy Cat Ladies of the Olympics, they would prefer that they be Chinese and/or Russian. I think that NBC thinks that their Olympic mandates won't be fulfilled if a Japanese, Australian, Canadian, or even a Ukrainian athlete runs the table in the "primetime" Olympic sports like athletics, swimming, and even figure skating. The most prolific Winter Olympian of all time, Norway's Ole Einar Bjørndalen, got scant primetime Olympic attention from NBC. He was mostly a daytime Olympic coverage personality, and NBC's bread and butter comes from their flagship primetime coverage. (Back when CBS showed the Winters, they did show Bjorn Daehlie more than a few times in their primetime coverage.) Though if a Chinese or Russian did likewise, NBC would constantly blab on about how such wins mean the world to one billion Chinese and 140 million Russians and other over the top, hyperbolic statements.

What about if a Jamaican athlete took all the headlines in athletics? Oh wait.. that already happened. And NBC has fully embraced the story. No doubt they will again when he competes in Rio.

Ole Einar Bjørndalen competes in biathlon. Not a big time sport for American audiences. And if you're looking for a comparison with Daehlie, remember that CBS didn't have daytime coverage except on the weekends, nor did they have their own cable coverage to feature him. NBC did, so they had the benefit of showing an entire biathlon race rather than showing a couple of snippets on the primetime show. That's called progress.

I've heard a lot of people say how the Olympics lost some luster for them after 1988 when the Soviet Union fall. The US lost their chief rival and never really replaced them. China is somewhat taking their place in that regard, but a lot of the sports they're good are aren't the ones that Americans are good at. So there isn't as much head to head competition there. It goes without saying NBC pushes the storylines and probably exaggerates where needed for effect. That's what they need to do to compete for attention in the age of social media. And if that means concocting a rivalry with the mighty Chinese or the big bad Russians, I can't entirely fault them for doing that, even if it comes across as schmaltzy at times.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I personally do not mind if athletes from countries that aren't known for winning tons of Olympic gold medals across the board, end up running tables (if not THE table). That to me is part of what attracts me to the Olympics. I also like it when people like Matthew Mitcham and Chad Le Clos come from virtually nowhere and thwart the favorites.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Someone on here already covered how NBC adjusts his narratives to accommodate the athletes. However, I like whenever they delve into specific athletes that are not mainstream. There are just not as many of them.

The Paralympic Games are a magnificent showcase of human endeavor, but not enough people get to see it. The 2012 Para's were one of the greatest ones yet, yet it received far less coverage than a pool play beach volleyball matchup. I know NBCSN upped it's coverage in 2014, but still has a ways to go. If it was well-marketed, more people would get to see it.

MY MAIN PET PEEVE: People who would not be caught dead watching Olympic sports for the other 47 and 1/2 months suddenly become experts all in ten minutes.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...