Tuesday, August 12, 2008
The Olympics So Far
I've been watching a lot of the 2008 Olympics, definitely more than I expected to. I stayed up to watch both US Men's Soccer matches, watched a ton of swimming, and have even watched a little of diving and gymnastics among other lesser events. Here are just a few reactions I've had:
NBC needs to stop putting "LIVE" on its broadcasts to anywhere but the East coast...because they're pre-recorded telecasts that are parading as live. Last night's 200m Freestyle was a perfect example. It was a live telecast at around 10pm Eastern Time, but was not broadcast on the West coast until three hours later, depriving a large viewing audience of the thrill of the live race. I'm just a little upset that NBC thinks they'll get higher ratings by rebroadcasting later when people are more likely to watch when they haven't found out the results on the internet.
This story is one in a long line to me that the Chinese Olympic officials just don't understand that you cannot be perfect. That level of tampering in order to acheive a perfect image is scary. We're talking V for Vendetta and Brave New World scary. It's adjusting and fine tuning an image to such a degree that we don't notice what's beautiful, only the huge amount of flaws. Shoving aside protesters and dissenters, not allowing full media and journalist coverage in the way that was promised, these are things that show they are too self conscious. The Opening Ceremony looked very nice, but they spent $300 million on it. A lot of things will look nice when Zhang Yimou is given a $300 million dollar budget to direct a performance, but what country has enough money to waste on PR like this?
I don't know, maybe I'm just at a cultural divide, but I'm just concerned that we're losing sight of the societal stories that were big before the Olympics. Pollution is still there, the treatment of Tibet is still afwul, and we're focusing on Phelps chasing Spitz and the Chinese Gymnastics team instead. The medal count is irrelevant to me, the US doesn't finish first every time (only in the past 10 years have they been dominant in the Summer games), especially when you consider the Winter Olympics. Why then is it a big deal if China tops the medal count? It's not a political statement to have more medals at the Olympics, there are still things wrong that can't be hidden by staging an elaborate Opening Ceremony.
On more sport related notes, I couldn't care less if Phelps matches or beats Spitz's record of 7 golds in swimming, he's a fantastic athlete and he represents the country well.
The men's soccer team put themselves in a terrible position to qualify for the quarterfinals with a 2-2 tie with Holland. Losing Freddy Adu and Michael Bradley to yellow card suspensions for their final group game against a very quick Nigeria team won't help either. Bradley got his yellow for time wasting after the 90th minute, an absolutely boneheaded move.
Team handball is kind of cool, but man is that Brazilian women's goalie annoying when she thinks she's winning. Good thing Hungary scored a last-second goal to tie it.
Week 1 belongs to swimming and gymnastics, Week 2 belongs to track. I'm just not sure how long China can keep up medal dominance when I've never heard of a Chinese track athlete doing well.
If softball, baseball, soccer, and other obviously athletic sports and competitions are in danger of no longer being Olympic events, then there's no way that a ton of the shooting events should be in play. A ton of these less athletic and less exciting events have a ton of medal categories whereas soccer, softball, baseball, water polo, and other team sports only award one set of medals to men and women. It seems a little bit weird to me that we've added these crappy events and don't change them as much as the big sports. I understand that the Olympics are the big competition for those "sports" and soccer, baseball, basketball, and the like have more important professional or international trophies, but the Olympics are still where these big world sports belong.
I'll probably have more reactions as the results come in, so I'll write more on the Olympics as they continue.