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©04 The Media Desk

[NOTE: The Desk is NOT on the take from NBC to spout off this nonsense. In Fact, NBC would probably be happier if the Desk didn't mention it at all. Since as soon as the Games are over, it will turn the network off and not watch it at all except for race and college football coverage. thank you ]

     Oh yes.

     The Athens Olympics are half over.
     The Desk has watched hours and hours of Olympic Coverage on the Peacock Network and its partners, USA, CNBC and the others.
     And not just the Abysmal Basketball Performance of the JV Dream Team either (aka prima donna crybabies, and the Not Ready For Prime Time in Lithuania Basketball Players). It has sat through equestrian events, cheered for table tennis, setting breathlessly watching rowing, relished tight boxing matches, and more, and more. Gymnastics, diving, volleyball, weightlifting. The women's marathon. Judo, and more yet. Morning. Noon. And Night. And more to come.
     And it will say it again.

     The Desk tuned into the opening ceremony and felt the bile rise in its throat as Katie Couric and friends ran off at the mouth about how special it all was. Waxing poetic, though clueless, as the Greeks put on an excruciating tribute to history.
     Yes, that's the right word.
     The parade of floats with the live actors on then was as painful to watch as that dumb bit at the Salt Lake games with the kid skating about for what seemed like an eternity.
     We won't even talk about the Desk begging the Olympian Gods to sink that idiotic boat as it slowly drifted across the lake at the beginning of the show. Oh Please.
     Then Couric had to explain the symbolism, and we should be glad, it was so deeply meaningful if she hadn't explained it, we'd never have gotten it. Now that she has, we can go on with our lives.
     Trust the Desk on this one. If you buy the DVD set of the coverage and want to watch the opening ceremonies. Skip the first hour. You'll thank the Desk later.
     The only cool thing was the flying god, but after ten minutes that got old too.
     Anyway, the bile was rising because the Desk felt Deja Vue all over again. For the Sydney and Salt Lake Games NBC felt obligated to spend more broadcast time showing us touching and heart wrenching athlete bios about how some runners grandmother couldn't come to the games because she had some dreadful disease or another than showing the actual competition. Or we'd miss entire events because the hosts were jack jawing about something. And then they'd run promos for upcoming prime time comedies that nobody wanted to watch. And this one seemed like they were going to go that way again.

     Saturday as the Games began the Desk got a pleasant surprise. They weren't gabbing over the events. They were keeping the bio bits to a minimum. There was some promotion, but not too much. And the commentators weren't all into getting as much face time on camera as they possibly could. In fact, the Desk has now seen events where the commentators DID NOT appear on camera At All!

     They have swimming commentators that have actually been in a pool. Boxing guys that know boxing. Katie Couric has been banished to doing stuff on the Today Show that doesn't matter. At least until the closing ceremonies. Not Once has she been in the box commenting about a soccer match or covering the horsemanship three day event.
     This is almost too much to take! Sports Coverage that is about the SPORT! Not since Howard Cosell bantered on about complete irrelevancies during a game, missing three plays in the bargain, has it been such a bad time to watch sports. ABC trotted out Dennis Miller, then trotted him right back where he came from. Only to replace him with John Madden. Oh well.
     Too many people in the booth want to pose and smile for the camera and babble about how much fun they are having being paid to say stupid things instead of showing the sporting event they are covering. For example, the network race coverage teams. Be it NASCAR or Indy Car or whatever, the bums in the booth that can't drive any more, or in a couple of cases, can't find a gig being a pit boss, now sit and jabber about somebody else's bad day.
     But NBC is breaking the mold. They are showing the events. When the commentators talk it is about the event. Scores, stats, schedules, rankings. They go into what the penalty was and show replays that explain what is going on.


     All Future Sporting Event Coverage by Major Media Will Be Weighed in the Balance (and probably found wanting) Against The National Broadcasting Company Coverage of The Games of the XXVIII Olympiad, Athens 2004.

     Thank You, NBC
     Now… when was the Mountain Bike finals on again?


[NOTE:, The Olympics, NBC, and all associated names and identifying marks are registered trademarks of their respective owners. The Desk is not affiliated in any way with any of them.
Thank you]

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