Sports is a funny business, and business is a key word.Â
We talk from time to time about how the business aspect affects college hoops,
but of course it affects every aspect of sports, not least of all the
Olympics.Â And NBC, having butchered it last time round with story telling
rather than letting us see the drama, is at it again: there will be no live
events broadcast in the U.S. during the Olympics, at least not on NBC, and when
we do finally get to see yesterday's history and glory, it will be burdened with
show-biz narrative. Dish owners may have options for all we know, possibly the
BBC, but the rest of us are stuck.
NBC, please.Â E-mail us the stories, print them
somewhere, but this is one of the greatest sporting events of all.Â Can't
we just witness this phenomenal parade of excellence? These young men and women
have pushed themselves to phenomenal degrees. You can tell us the stories,
briefly, but turning it into a saccharine Oprah fest is really
distasteful.Â We don't want to feel their pain, we want to see their
glory.Â Get out of the way, you dolts.
And secondarily to that, there are so many great talents in
the world, from the Moroccan runner to the Aussie swimmers.Â Marion Jones
is a prodigy, and there are so many great American athletes, but we
know those people already. Let us see Australians, Brits, Moroccans, Koreans,
Kenyans, Jamaicans and even, if you please, our ignored neighbors the Canadians and Mexicans.
Let the camera have its magic and please, let us enjoy it for what it is, rather
than what you are going to tell us it is.
That sort of underscores the point that this is an
International event, not a jingoistic American only "World"
championship.Â We live in an international age but our television networks
can only focus on mush and sensationalism.Â Here's a radical suggestion:
give camcorders to athletes and let them tape stories if you must.Â Let
them find the compelling elements and dramas.Â But if all we see are the
Basketball team, and Marion Jones, and the American gymnasts, you've really
cheated us.Â And on top of that insulted us with bedtime stories.
Finally, though NBC is treating us like children incapable of
discerning what is important for ourselves, the Olympic Committee continues to
stick it to athletes. It's incredible that the athletes, who after all are the
Games, are not allowed to maintain even their own web sites.Â That's a
disgrace, and more to the point, it's stupid. Aussie swimmer, Daniel Kowalski,
the official DBR Olympian, has a nice following, and his page would only support
the broader effort of getting people to follow the Games.Â The wired world
is meant to make connections.Â We live in a network society, and networks
which restrict information flow screw themselves in the long run.Â The
Olympic Committee is only harming the Games by such a petty power grab.
The games start in Australia in less than two hours. For here
in the States, it won't start for another 24.Â So after you read about the
march into the stadium, and see the lighting of the torch on the news and
online, NBC will let you see it - and make you sit through an insufferable tale
to boot.Â What a shame.Â The Games haven't even started, and the
electricity is already gone.