August 24 2008

Final Thoughts On The Olympics

The Olympics are finally over, and I have a few parting thoughts on the whole thing.  (I know you’re all shocked by this.


NBC, the broadcaster of the games here in the United States has nothing to be proud of.  Yes, they had a record number of viewers, but the way this was handled doesn’t justify them crowing about it.  I’ll even ignore the fact that they white-washed everything abotu China, presenting us with nothing but fluff pieces about how warm and cuddly China is, I am sure they were mindful of censors, but it was the way they tape delayed everything.

Mind you that back in 2006 they asked the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to move certain events so they would air in primetime in the USA, if things weren’t moved, they just tape delayed it.  At around 12:30 AM on August 24th, the United States men’s volleyball team was playing for the gold medal against Brazil.  This was a high profile game due to the fact that the the father-in-law of the coach had been killed early in the games by a random knifing, and his mother-in-law was seriously injured, but lived.

This became a team of great interest to Americans for the way our hearts went out to them, so of course them going for the gold against the number one rated team in the world is a big deal.  It just so happens I know someone who lives in Rio, and she instant messaged me last night when the game began so we could watch it together and root our countries on.  Except there was a small problem in that NBC chose not to show it to me live.  Instead I got to see it a full 15 hours after it had ended so that NBC could show it during prime time.

Sure, you can say they wanted to get their money’s worth out of it, but mind you Brazil was seeing it live at slightly after 2 AM their time.  That seemed to work for Brazil, why not here?  I was in Japan during the 2004 summer games, and all the events for Japan were shown live no matter what the hour.  So why is it that America can’t suck it up and show the events live?  The rights for the 2014 and 2016 games are coming up for auction soon, and according to the New York Times, ABC wants the games, and they are also promising no tape delay if they should get them.  HUZZAH!

I know some peopel will complain about the idea they don’t get to see the events in full, but from my perspective, I hate watching tape delayed sports.  I don’t like spending my day dodging results so it will be new to me.  Anytime something is done live, I think it should be showed live.  Record it if you want to watch it on your schedule, but some of us want live or nothing.  NBC also has enough netwworks to their name they could have a tape delay channel for those who want it, but I for one want live.  Like the opening and closing ceremonies ran a full half-day late here, I just didn’t care by the time they aired because I had seen so much online just from my normal surfing around.

You have two years to the 2010 winter games, NBC… shape up.


The IOC has been slow to respond to criticisms that some of the Chinese female gymnasts appear to have been under the eligible age of 16.

While the Chinese government continues to state that the girls were of legal age, pretty much anyone with working eyeballs could see that a few of them were clearly under the age of 16.  While the paperwork for the girls supports this, past registries for other events show specifically that gymnast He Kexin was born on January 1st, 1994, meaning she was not of the correct age to participate this year.  According to the International Herald Tribune, after these descripancies were brought to light, the sources of the information have either been blocked or altered.

So how does one determine the age of someone if the paperwork, which is easily altered, says another thing.  The answer, dear friends, is as easy as an x-ray.  The Los Angeles Times ran a piece on this the other day, and it truly is as easy as x-raying a few bones and they can tell by growth how ole the patient is.  Since the IOC has numerous drug testing requirements, why should x-raying be such a problem?  The answer is simple, it shouldn’t be a problem, and I can’t believe they haven’t asked for this yet.

In my personal opinion, yes, the girls were underage and China cheated, end of story.

What really got my ire up about this whole thing is that Jacques Rogge, head of the IOC, seems more disturbed by a little showboating by Jamician sprinter Usain Bolt than he is by the Chinese possibly cheating.  He said that he felt Bolt should show more respect for his fellow athletes, comments he reaffirmed when he spoke with the Inquirer, “I gave Usain Bolt what I believe is fatherly advice. I stand by what I said.”  He went on to add, “but I repeat what I said – he should show more respect for his opponents. I also said he was a young man of 22, and he has time to mature.”

Well, I have some ‘fatherly advice’ for Mr. Rogge, do not choose Communist countries to host your games, and you may not have issues such as this one with the gymnasts.  Obviously there is a certain embarrassment factor by having to confront your host country about a potential cheating scandal, but get over it, and get with it. Don’t worry about a showboating 22-year-old when there were even more egregious incidents throughout the entire game by many other athletes, some who didn’t even go on to win.  Bolt is fast, he will mature, drop it and look at the more serious issues.

The IOC has spent years now fighting doping scandals, and now it would appear it is time to fight age issues.  Figure out a policy and get it enacted now so this won’t ever have to come up again.

In Closing…

I am sure some of you thought this part wouldn’t come, but here it is.  The Olympics are coming to a crossroads I believe.  Are they a world-unifying force for peace, or are they insanely large business with billions of dollars floating around?  I think the unification factor happens in spite of the business side of things, but the corporate side is getting bigger, meaner and seemingly a whole lot less considerate of what goes on around it.

While I still watched the entirety of the games, I was not thrilled with the location, and when NBC decided to do their fluff pieces about the wonders of the country, it only served to sicken me.  Instead of doing things you knew the censors would let through, just don’t do the fluff pieces at all.  Trying to give a warm & fuzzy spin to a country that everyone knows violates human rights on a whim was just nauseating, and that blame falls squarely to NBC.

The IOC needs to get its priorities straight, and fast.  You handed out 100,000 condoms this year, so obviously you care about pregnancy and STD scandals at the games the sexual health of your athletes, so why not the morality of cheating, no matter what form it takes?

I am sure I will be watching the 2010 winter games, but I sure hope to see some changes made.

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