NBC Sports, You Are Fired! Make the Olympics Watchable



Mark Lazarus, Head of NBC Sports.  Fire this Idiot!!

Now that the Olympics are over, it is time to build a grass roots effort to summarily fire the Nattering Nabob Network Nitwits of NBC Sports, who created the most awful coverage of the games, ever.  Who is with me?  Time to gather the metaphorical pitchforks, and storm the Monsters Castle known as 30 Rock.  With luck they will take their corporate jets and escape to Rio, where they will be forced to live in a slum and drink the water straight out of the faucets.

I should start by saying how much I love the Olympics.  There are almost no events that I watched that did not interest me, and the athleticism and drive of the competitors makes the Games as compelling as the Final Four, the World Series, and the Super Bowl all wrapped into one.


That is why it is so unforgiveable that NBC could botch the coverage so badly.  In Olympian terms, the dropped the baton, hit the wall, tripped over the hurdle. Their coverage insured that any drama or life was sucked out of the viewer, until we were forced to read novels between actual events.  For example, I finished War and Peace just during the Men’s 100 meter competition, which featured 97 heats over the course of three days of lifeless broadcasting.  Only NBC could make Usain Bolt’s transcendence a colossal bore.

How about the excitement of women’s gymnastics?  That is basically the only sport offered during the first week of the prime time coverage.  We all knew who won before watching.  As awesome as those gals were, they compete in the team, the all around, and the individual event.  By the end of the coverage, I thought it was a miniseries likely to last longer than Breaking Bad.  Of course, you insomniacs must have loved the men’s gymnastics, which were on in all their glory at 3:00 am.  Somebody named Eleftherios Petrounias won the Pommel Horse, and Ri Se Gwang (of North Korea!) won the vault.  Bet you wanted to watch- that.  Sorry pal, we need to see all four events of the women’s.   Yay!

I discovered that the coverage of the games themselves was completely unwatchable without a DVR. .  Where do I go to kiss the inventor of this awesome device?  Without that, I would have had to watch Celebrity Toenail Clipping, or Bridezillas, or the WNBA, the usual dreck, instead.

runner warming

According to Mark Lazarus, this is twice as exciting as the race itself 

If you watched without reading novels or getting your Holiday Cards done early, you will know exactly what I mean.  For every hour of elapsed broadcast time, there were approximately five minutes of athletes actually performing.  The rest of the hour was filled with the following, interest and drama deadening stuff.

Content” Time Relative Interest Level
Commercials     32 minutes Algebra Lesson
Inane Interviews after event 6  minutes Watching Tire Rotation
Athletes randomly standing around, waiting for the G-Damned event to start 6 Minutes Waiting at Security Gate at Airport (equally frustrating)
Special Interest “Features” wherein we learn that some athlete has overcome incredible adversity and having no father to make it to the games (a new story, never before told) 8 minutes Local news zoo animal story
Over the Hill Broadcasters Sharing banal insights with each other 3 minutes Grandfatherly high school reminiscences
Actual Competition 5 minutes Super Bowl/Final Four

Anyone else see the problem here?  The boring crap consumers 11 times more broadcast time than the actual events.  The people responsible need to be forced to swim in the Bay in Rio, without antibiotics.  Or possibly be consigned to devise local programming for the cable channel in Nome Alaska.  OK, both.

The sad part is how much better the Olympics could be, with a little bit of effort.  Something novel, like say, showing only the events in progress.  No five minutes of track athletes shambling around, shaking their toesies, or streching, then slouching over to the starting blocks, before the gun goes off.  No more video feeds of divers sitting in hot tubs, or taking showers, (why do they do that anyway?).  No ten minutes of breathless coverage of athletes doing…NOTHING!  STANDING AROUND WAITING FOR THE EVENT TO HAPPEN.

Then they could cut out all of the heats.  Who cares about these?  They are interminable, and get in the way of the actual drama.  How many times did we have to watch Usain Bolt breeze to the finish line before we got to see the final?  No qualifying, no heats, JUST FINALS THANKYOU.

The sole exception to all of these are a few sports where the viewer interest is surely accentuated by the purely, shall we say, sensual element?  The obvious example is women’s volleyball, but I am fairly certain that men’s swimming and diving capture an equal amount of female prurient interest; (ladies, you perverts!!)

Male swimmers

Ladies, you watched every heat (or is that, IN heat?) didn’t you?

Under my proposal, in the four hours between 7:00 and 11:00 we could see the finals of 20 events!!  Maybe 30!!  All in rapid fire sequence.  Tell me you wouldn’t tune in for that.  In prime time, we could have seen the finals of ping pong, hand ball, all four cycling events, boxing, judo, rugby, and many more.

I would add a couple of feature events that would get HUGE ratings.  How about a cheesecake/beefcake feature?  It would feature the best looking athletes, wearing their competition gear.  Admit it, those of you pretending to be scandalized.  YOU would watch that.  Then, I would add an hour of bloopers, where you get to see the unqualified yutzes from Sri Lanka trip over the hurdles, or toss their cookies in the 12 mile of the marathon, etc.  You could pay all these athletes extra so there would be no hurt feelings, (although I bet the foxes and major dudes would pay to get included in the beauty pageant segment).

There, with just a few tweaks we could have a watchable Olympics.  Interesting, inclusive, and fun.  NBC may need a new head of sports, I am available.

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