You have proven yourselves completely unable to handle the responsibility of an Olympic broadcast, and yet it appears you will be doing so again in four years. Let me list just a few of the ways your ineptitude showed through.
1. You refused to run the opening ceremonies live, which caused smart people in the US to find work-arounds.
2. You then decided to run the closing ceremony live, but did not tell anyone.
3. Bob Costas’s snarky, smart-ass remark during the opening ceremonies – “if you’re looking for exciting badminton action, and who isn’t?” – set the tone for the entire broadcast: appeal to the lowest common denominator, and for God’s sake only show American athletes. Do not do human interest clips on Egyptian wrestlers, Peruvian archers, Serbian gymnasts or Ukrainian rowers, no matter how fascinating their stories might be, because American viewers are only interested in American athletes.
4. Your announcers were asked to leave the boxing arena due to their incessant chatter that disturbed broadcasters from other nations. In your tradition of keeping it classy, the announcers said there was nothing going on that would interest American viewers anyway.
5. Bob Costas.
6. Ryan Seacrest.
7. The broadcast of the closing ceremonies was a fucking disaster from start to finish. Here on the West Coast, the show began at 7 PM. The first hour and a half was devoted to studio interviews with American gold medalists and replays of their races, “enhanced” with MTV-like music video effects. After that we were treated to five minute feeds of the athletes with no attempt made to identify them, taking breaks for many, many commercials. There was one shot of what appeared to be a Union Jack but when the camera panned away, it was a young woman’s chest in a t-shirt. Again, keeping it classy.
8. Somehow you managed to delete Ray Davies from the feed here, who was the one person we wanted to see more than anyone else. You also deleted Kate Bush’s wonderful “Running Up That Hill” with a montage of athletes participating in their events. Way to go.
9. At 11 PM, you then announced the closing ceremonies would restart in one hour, giving you a chance to broadcast a premier of a new comedy show starring a chimpanzee, and which began with a cat leaping from the balcony of a multistory building and winding up in the hospital. This is so not funny I can’t even begin to describe it.
10. Apparently those who tuned in at midnight got to see the Who for eight minutes, and Bob Costas for 52 minutes.
Since you are going to be doing this again in four years, here are some tips on how to not completely disgrace the USA.
1. Watch reruns of ABC’s “Wide World of Sports” and the ABC broadcasts of the Olympics from the years they covered it. Notice how they feature sports and athletes. Notice how they allow the events to happen with only minimal talking.
2. Watch Jim MacKay. Notice something: he never said anything rude about anyone. He knew sports. He transitioned easily from boxing to water polo to rowing, all the while gently updating viewers on competitions, whether they involved Americans or not. And notice too: there was only one of him. He was Olympics Central.
3. Consider that perhaps Americans have much broader tastes than you think they do. Just because you’re not interested in a Greco-Roman wrestling match between a Pakistani and a Filipino doesn’t mean Americans won’t find it compelling. Talk about the athletes, where they came from, what it means to them to participate. People will respond.
4. Have former Olympians do the commentary. John Nabor, Mark Spitz, or Michael Phelps on swimming. Bart Connor and Mary Lou Retton on gymnastics. Edwin Moses on track. They actually know what they’re talking about.
5. Tape Bob Costas’s mouth shut.
6. Do not allow Ryan Seacrest, or anyone like him, anywhere near a microphone. This is sports, not “American Idol.”
7. For fuck’s sake, shut up.
P.S. “Medal” is a noun, not a verb. “He is expected to medal” makes no grammatical sense whatsoever.
*For non-US readers, NBC is National Broadcasting Company. ABC is American broadcasting Company.
Barbara Rice is a native Igonian and periodically writes an anewscafe.com column, “A Cheap Broad’s Travel Tips”. Upon discovering the Beatles at age 9, she picked up an atlas and figured out how far England was and how long it would take to get there (5,371 miles, 12 hours). Though gainfully employed, she regards work as a necessary evil to finance vacations. In her spare time she looks up cheap airfares and daydreams about her next trip. She never did meet Sir Paul, but she knows where his office is.
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