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Bias in Olympic commentary(related to 1984 Olympics


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i was thinking about this the other day why is there bias in commentary at the Olympics on television in 84 on ABC in particular Russ Hellickson(wrestling), Cathy Rigby(gymnastics) and Howard Cosell(boxing) were opening cheering for the Americans during their events i can remember in 92 how NBC's commentators were doing the same thing and even in 96! glad NBC tries to be balanced nowadays...

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Gymnastics was VERY Bias. I was fine with the Commentary Teams in 84 and 88 but when 92 and 96 came around, I got really annoyed. The Team I believe was Tim Daggett, Elfi Schlegal & John Tesh. I can't believe how biased they were constantly talking about how much chances the US have and what not...Like, There are other Gymnasts from other Nations that people want to know of too. I still don't get why Cathy Johnson and Bart Conner were not brought it, I never heard bias commentary from either of them.

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Well they are US commentating to the US audience, no? I can assure you the Australian commentators are pretty much solely interested in the Aussie competitors and aren't giving too much attention to the Uzbekistani in lane 6 if there is an Aussie in land 4 ya know?

ABC/NBC whoever have paid massive amounts of money to broadcast exclusively to the US so they can say what they want. It's not the global feed provided by the organisers after all.

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Gymnastics was VERY Bias. I was fine with the Commentary Teams in 84 and 88 but when 92 and 96 came around, I got really annoyed. The Team I believe was Tim Daggett, Elfi Schlegal & John Tesh. I can't believe how biased they were constantly talking about how much chances the US have and what not...Like, There are other Gymnasts from other Nations that people want to know of too. I still don't get why Cathy Johnson and Bart Conner were not brought it, I never heard bias commentary from either of them.

I remember Bob Trumpy being bias too during the boxing in 92 same thing with Marv Albert with the basketball but Charlie Jones and Tom Hammond were pretty good at not being bias..i remember when the aussie swimmer was edged out by Summer Sanders and Charlie sounded excited. and yea the gymnastics crew in 92 and 96 was awful.

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Nitpicky, fault-finders. These are HUMANS doing a human activity (commentating), so there is bound to be some bias. It's all part of the game. No one's perfect.

They are highly paid professionals, expected to do a world class job, especially if they are the host broadcasters.

I am just human too, maybe it is OK if I amputate the wrong leg of a patient occasionally.

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MissEurasia, on 04 Feb 2016 - 12:33 PM, said:

Gymnastics was VERY Bias. I was fine with the Commentary Teams in 84 and 88 but when 92 and 96 came around, I got really annoyed. The Team I believe was Tim Daggett, Elfi Schlegal & John Tesh. I can't believe how biased they were constantly talking about how much chances the US have and what not...Like, There are other Gymnasts from other Nations that people want to know of too. I still don't get why Cathy Johnson and Bart Conner were not brought it, I never heard bias commentary from either of them.

I remember during the 91 world gymnastics championships when it was Gary Bender(he was doing college football at the time for ABC), Bart Conner and Kathy Johnson now those three did a better job than the crew that did the Olympics one year later the ironic thing the gymnastics crew on the Olympics is the only crew I could not stand because of the bias now I was fine with Hammond on track or Albert on basketball.. now when I watched the hockey in Sochi Emrick and Kennedy Albert didn't show any bias so didn't Johnny or Tara on figure skating so you can have announcers who were not bias towards the Americans

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but remember that ABC did the global feed in 84..

Because there was no Olympic Broadcasting Services yet then.

Alright, the problem was, the monitors fed into Samaranch's suite carried the US feed initially rather than the Global feed -- so that is how the root of your story came about. When it was discovered, the problem was fixed. The OTHER countries provided their own commentators so I really don't understand your nitpicking.

They are highly paid professionals, expected to do a world class job, especially if they are the host broadcasters.

I am just human too, maybe it is OK if I amputate the wrong leg of a patient occasionally.

Oh please. Don't be ridiculous. :rolleyes:

Edited by baron-pierreIV
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First off everyone, at the risk of being a grammar nut here.. the adjective you're looking for is biased. Bias is a not. A person is not bias. He/she shows bias and is biased. Sorry to everyone, but that's grating on me a little here.

but remember that ABC did the global feed in 84..

I see baron already beat me to it, but to add a little context.

UEBERROTH BLAMES MISUNDERSTANDING FOR CRITICISM OF TV

Yes, there was some additional focus on Americans. Might have had a little something to do with the United States winning a crap ton of medals thanks to the absence of the Eastern Bloc nations.

Well they are US commentating to the US audience, no? I can assure you the Australian commentators are pretty much solely interested in the Aussie competitors and aren't giving too much attention to the Uzbekistani in lane 6 if there is an Aussie in land 4 ya know?

ABC/NBC whoever have paid massive amounts of money to broadcast exclusively to the US so they can say what they want. It's not the global feed provided by the organisers after all.

This gets a like. EVERY country's broadcasters are biased towards their own athletes. And there's nothing wrong with that. That's who their audience is. As much as people out there hate on NBC's coverage (and for a lot of things, they deserve it), the claims that they are too biased towards Americans are no different than most broadcasters of other countries. I watched 2 Olympics' worth of coverage on CBC. Watching their host Brian Williams and some of the commentators focus on Canadians makes NBC seems very impartial by comparison. So yea, I can't get on them for that one.

They are highly paid professionals, expected to do a world class job, especially if they are the host broadcasters.

I am just human too, maybe it is OK if I amputate the wrong leg of a patient occasionally.

And host broadcasters are generally unbiased. Announcers covering the Olympics for a national rights holder have some authority to be biased because that's who their audience is. Their job is to serve the audience they are broadcasting too and more often than not, that audience is mostly about their own country's athletes.

I'll back baron up on that last part. You're actually going to compare TV sports commentary to that of a surgeon. Who spent years and years in medical school to take on the responsibility of putting a person's life and health in his/her hands. Riiiiiiiiiiight. That makes a ton of sense. I'll remember that when I take finding a television program to watch as seriously as I do picking a doctor to operate on me.


** - Of course I'll make a typo when trying to correct someone's grammar (sorry GB, but on principle, I refuse to pay for the site just so I can make edits)

That part at the top should have read "bias is a noun"

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John Tesh spent too much time dwelling on Vitaly Scherbo's wife's near-fatal auto accident (which happened here in Central PA) in 1996 to show any bias towards anybody. Tesh is a great guy, who writes great music (I wish I could find a copy of the theme he wrote for CBS' 1983 and 1987 Pan Am coverage), but when it comes to sports commentary, yuk.

I barely give the commentary a thought anymore, thanks to the proliferation of streaming coverage. Give me the OBS feed with no commentators and I'm in my happy place.

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Hi!

I must be alone in my opinion, but I beg to differ with the others in this thread. I really enjoyed John Tesh's play by play in 1996 - at least during the women's team competition. Some people felt he over emoted, perhaps this is true, but I felt his commentary helped build the drama of the events of the competition - especially for those of us who chose not to find out the events ahead of time. His call of those two nights are still one of the most memorable moments for me of the Atlanta Games. And don't forget he wrote the best network NBA theme song (Roundball Rock) ever!

And a special shout out to BTHarner who says he's from Central PA. I happen to be from Western PA and I am pleased to greet a fellow Pennsylvanian on this website!

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One of the fun things about traveling for the Olympics is getting to watch how they are covered in other countries. If you think the U.S. Is biased, try watching Russian or China's official broadcasts. Heck even polite Canada and stuffy BBC give NBC a run for the money with homerism.

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I actually wasn't at all frustrated at Tesh. I was really annoyed at how Tim Daggett and Elfi Schlegal would constantly keep going on and on about the whole USA VS Russia thing, Yes, I know it's exciting and what not but there are other Gymnasts performing and the least they could have done was pay attention. I won't even start on Elfi at the 2003 World Championships.

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i was thinking that duirng the 88 womens volleyball final between Peru and the Soviet UInon, Bob Trumpy didnt show any bias towards either team- at least he was even handed and so was Chris Marlowe they were like that too during the US-Soviet mens volleyball final too always thought that Charlie Jones didnt show any bias on track and field in 88 or swimming in 92 he was even handed too so the american networks dont need to show any bias sometimes

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Hi!

I must be alone in my opinion, but I beg to differ with the others in this thread. I really enjoyed John Tesh's play by play in 1996 - at least during the women's team competition. Some people felt he over emoted, perhaps this is true, but I felt his commentary helped build the drama of the events of the competition - especially for those of us who chose not to find out the events ahead of time. His call of those two nights are still one of the most memorable moments for me of the Atlanta Games. And don't forget he wrote the best network NBA theme song (Roundball Rock) ever!

And a special shout out to BTHarner who says he's from Central PA. I happen to be from Western PA and I am pleased to greet a fellow Pennsylvanian on this website!

Hi panamfan, welcome to the boards fellow Pennsylvanian. Hope you enjoy the forums.

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I agree with many on this thread regarding the apparent bias in Olympic broadcasters. The sportscasters are, after all, mouthpieces for the nations' origin and have the Olympic TV scheduling for their broadcasters with sports designed to attract mass national interest across the boards. Obviously, they want to see their team succeed. With all the hype that 7 made for the Sydney Olympics down in Australia for example, you can best be sure there was jingoism during its broadcast--and it surely got criticized for it.

As for John Tesh, he was waaaaayy too saccherine in his gymnastics presentations with Daggett and Schlegel. Not all the time, though. Wasn't his job to fully get into the technical/analytical aspects of the sport. Though I do understand the Cold War hype angle between the USA vs. Russia/Unified Team/Soviet Union since it's rather easy, exciting, and familiar to build upon to the public. But with the way the gymnastics was televised, there were other gymnasts out there, Romanians notwithstanding.

Already mentioned with a few examples pre-1996 with Charlie Jones and Trumpy/Marlowe, it seems more understandable to build the bias as the Olympics was a tentpole event. Still is. Now with expansion to multiple channels on the NBC family and showing more sports, the pro-American bias doesn't seem to hold much of an impact unless the USA is involved to me.

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  • 2 weeks later...

i think the worst bias i have heard was not from Cathy Rigby- she was so bias (biased) towards the American gymnasts but i don't remember Gordon Maddux being that bias (biased) but he and Jack Whitaker seemed to be excited when the American's won the Men's Team event in 84 Rigby showed that too when Mary Lou won too

Sorry, I'm rarely, if ever, a grammar nazi, but I see this too often on this and other forums, and it drives me to despair wondering what kids are actually being taught about grammar these days. And especially after Quaker explained it so well a few posts ago.

Bias is a noun. The adjective is biased. So while you can say "the commentator showed bias" or "there was bias in the broadcaster's coverage of the event", if you are using it as an adjective you would say "the commentator was biased" or "the broadcaster's coverage was biased" (or indeed "she was so biased towards the American athletes".

A bit of punctuation also does wonders to clarity.

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