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NBC’s Treatment of the 2012 Olympics

Zack and I love the Olympics and watched an inordinate amount of them the past few weeks. What we saw we loved, but there was so much we didn’t see and that’s what I’m writing about. Just some thoughts.

-         The most obvious thing NBC did was to highlight the athletes who had VISA contracts. If the swimmer or runner did a VISA ad, NBC watched that athlete from the first trial to the last note of their national anthem. If they had minor ad contracts, like McDonald’s, you’d see them somewhat, but not nearly as much as if they had major contracts. What’s up with that?

-         It was days and days before we realized the “minor” (minor = less publicized) sports were being aired during the daytime hours, often even live London time. Things like Archery, Fencing and Synchronized Swimming were found eventually there in those daylight shows, sometimes on the NBCSports station! Why they didn’t bother to tell us this on the main NBC channel is beyond me.

-         I like watching the Olympics in large part for the, what I call, Heart Stories. You know, those tender, heart-wrenching stories of overcoming adversity in order to stay alive and get to the Olympics? Those. Sadly, this year, there were very few Heart Stories. I can only remember a handful and that’s way too few. I am sure there were many, many more Heart Stories at the Olympics. What were they and why weren’t we told them?

-         Why aren’t things like racial disparity discussed on tv? Why isn’t the obvious like there are no Ethiopian Equestrian teams and no Queen’s granddaughter running Track and Field a topic of discussion? Is money the deciding factor?

-         Wouldn’t it be fantastic to know how dancing horses are considered a sport when baseball and softball are not? How about Target Shooting? Aiming and pulling a trigger? A sport?

There you have it. Some of our pressing concerns. Did you have any?

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Reader Comments (7)

I find your post quite interesting. We were really lucky this time we had 20 dedicated channels and could watch each sport as it happened. I understand that NBC cut out quite a lot of the opening ceremony and again for the closing ceremony. We don't have adverts and it was 3 hours straight through! Shame you missed so much.

Our biggest complaint was that the Olympic TV company streams were not as good at live sport as the BBC usually is. There were a lot of apologising commentators, who had no control over the pictures they were putting out. Their coverage of the road cycling was appalling with no time checks!

I understand that Zara Philips only won her place in the eventing team at the last minute!

August 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCanuGess

Dancing horses! I can tell you a great heart story... but you can read it here - http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2186089/Olympic-2012-Equestrian-Land-Gold-Glory-Medley-classic-British-tunes-helps-bring-home-dressage-gold-Charlotte-Dujardin-Valegro.html

August 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLiz

The racial disparity is an easy one (I think). Yes, there is money involved -why would a country like Ethiopia invest so much money in an expensive sport like equestrian when most Ethiopians wouldn't have access to such facilities regularly? But also, I strongly believe genetics are involved. The British coverage even discussed how so many east African countries are so good at distance running. They suggested the climate and food are a factor, but also look at them: no amount of training could get any member of the British royal family in the physical shape to run a marathon with the top African athletes. For the same reason, you rarely see black swimmers - people perform to their strengths and genetics play a massive role in separating the good from the elite.

August 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTanya

Barb, I do follow your blog, although I don't write here. I found you on Dr Amy's blog and you really caught my attenttion.

Since I live in Eastern Europe, I did not follow the Olympics on NBC. I can't say much about their treatment of the different sports. I do wonder about certain sports being real sports, though, But I really don't think there is much to be said about racial disparity. Everyone knows that athletes of African sescent are better at Track and Field. I don;t know why is that. It just is. And since they do win in their countries, it's only fair that they enter the Olympics.

In my country, we have an entrance examination after 7th grade. Everyome aimes for the most elite schools. The rules of admittance are 50/50 boys and girls. It sounds good. Only, my home town does not follow that rule. There, students get admitted depending on their grades alone. And the result is stunning. In my class, there were 20 girls and 2 boys. I don't know why boys cannot get equally good grades. It isn't as if they are stupid or something. Lazier, maybe. I don't know. But I do know that the practice of 50/50 is very discriminating against thousands of girls who lose their chance of a better schools just by being girls. I suppose the situation in my home town might be viewed as sex disparity. But it really isn't. The same wth Olympics. Just because something cannot be explained now doesn't mean it is unfair,and biased. It just is. And honestloy, I think there is no need for any television to discuss facts that cannot be changed. Just like I didn't care to hear thet my town is discriminating against boys, robbing them of the advantages boys enjoy in the rest of the country.

August 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAmazed

I wasn't too pleaaed with the coverage…but I have to defend "my" sport Dressage - AKA "Dancing Horses"…..it has a long history (100 years!) as an olympic event, and only recently has it been so "monied" - in fact our last medalist in the sport was Hilda Gurney (1974) and at the time - she was a sp ed schoolteacher, and her horse Keen was an "overgrown" racehorse - likely headed for slaughter…..(he was "too big" to fit into the gate) - she bought him for about $1000! (Not that that was an insiginificant sum, but not atypical for a "cull" at the time.

Just because Mitt Romney chooses to spend inordinate amounts of money on Raflica doesn't mean all dressage riders do - In fact, the gold medalist (UK) was working as a grrom, and was developing her olympic mount for her trainer! (and she's been riding since she was 2!)

Dressage is an "offshoot" of developing calvary mounts, all the movements are designed to have an well trained mount for combat, although the "airs" are not part of the olympics, they are still taught and can be seen in the lippazaner stallions of Vienna.

Sorry you hit a sore spot dissing Dressage…I can't wait for the election to be over, and hopefully Romney losing, and dressage can go back to its relative obscurity!

oh - and by the way - I pretty sure Africa and Antiartica are the only continents not represented in equestrian, North, Central, and South America, Europe and Asia, the Middle East, and Austraiia are all represented, and the FEI does have qualifiying shows all over the world - and will pay for competitors who do not have national bodies - I beleive there were about a dozen such IOC athletes in these games, although none in equestrian (although I wonder if they subsidized the Syrain and Jordanans in getting to London, I don't think they have FEI branches….

August 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJill H.

Jill!!! How wonderful to see you!! I've missed you. *hugs*

August 15, 2012 | Registered CommenterNavelgazing Midwife

Hi there, I was reading this amazing blog half the night and I was wondering if I could have access to reading the transZack blog. I am an ob/gyn doc and very open-minded and you can email yes or no to the email address above. Thanks, Sarah

August 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

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