NBC You Suck, Or How I Learned To Love Dressage

Seeing as we’re at day 134 of the ’12 Olympics, I feel the need to offer an opinion. First off, I understand that the technical aspects of providing coverage for more than 400 events is analogous to planning a shuttle launch. Kudos for that NBC. Unfortunately the creative planners for Oprah and Dr. Phil have merged with the CNN news department to produce a frightening chupacabra-like entity that has little resemblance to sport. This is painful for me as I love sports. Any sport. I’ll watch bass fishing if it seems competitive and I can figure out the rules. However, this Olympics is stretching my tolerance. Dear NBC, here’s a few thoughts on how it’s going so far:

  • You’re broadcasting approximately 23.8 hours a day. Would it kill you to explain the rules of an event from time to time? I’m just not as up to date on my rules of etiquette for fencing as I should be.
  • You’ll show 154 hours of meaningless diving/swimming/soccer/team handball/water polo early heats in their entirety, but feel the need to quickly summarize the decathlon in 10 minutes? Seriously? It’s one of the original events and derived from one of the earliest events, the pentathlon. Same with other track events like the shot put. I get that those big ‘ole boys aren’t exactly as photogenic as women’s beach volleyball (oh-lah-la!), but couldn’t you show more than just the last two throws of a couple of athletes? It’s not like you’re running short on broadcast time.
  • I’m done with women’s gymnastics. An incomprehensible (and seemingly random) scoring system combined with 11-year-old dwarf-like children just isn’t working. I’m pretty sure women’s athletics have evolved past glitter, eye shadow, spastic hand waving and toe pointing.
  • Enough of the “inspiring” athlete profiles. I simply don’t care that Suzy Q lost her favorite dog at age nine (tragic cement truck accident) and that’s what inspired her to become a synchronized swimmer.
  • Ok, I know it’s been in the Olympics forever… but how is having a horse prance around to music a sport? I admit it takes a certain style to pull off that rock’n top-hat though. Ditto rhythmic gymnastics. It’s tough not to laugh at (I mean be inspired by) dancing around with a ball and ribbon.
  • How hard would it be to have a Sportscenter-type of show to summarize the events and standings each day? You’re broadcasting events on NBC, MSNBC, Bravo, NBC Sports, and CNBC. You must have someone over there familiar with producing a news-type show (well, it is MSNBC. Maybe not). I’m running out of DVR space and can’t keep up with all the results.
  • Apparently the only question appropriate to ask a gold-medal winning athlete who’s gasping and trying to recover from their event 30 seconds ago is “you just won gold, how are you feeling right now?”

I know I sound grumpy but I don’t know what it is about these games this year. It just feels so… so, manufactured. NBC so desperately wants to capture an inspiring, tear-jerker of a moment (cue 1980 miracle on ice), they’re ready to pounce on anything. The result has been a hodge-podge of events that are hard to follow with enough continuity to develop any sense of the competition. Except team handball of course. I’m pretty sure every minute of every game in every heat has been broadcast. And I still can’t figure out the rules. Sigh…