What’s with the Olympics?

It just struck me that throughout my life I’ve been an avid viewer of the Olympics.  There were always human dramas to be seen, athletes going for a record number of gold medals, superstars like Michael Phelps, Mark Spitz, and the great female gymnasts like Nadia Comaneci.  I watched the highlights almost every night, especially gymnastics and track and field.

This year, I can’t get energized at all.  I watch the highlights on the evening news, but the revelation that Phelps has become the most decorated Olympian of all time leaves me cold. And I never watch the evening’s recaps.

I’m wondering if it’s just me, and I’ve simply lost interest, or whether the games themselves have become tepid and, as they get more “professional”—with fancy training, paid athletes, and the like—they’ve just gotten more boring.  Reader opinion is welcome.

139 Comments

  1. SimonSays
    Posted August 1, 2012 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    Me neither. Probably doesn’t help that the consequences of organizing are still being felt in my previous country of residence – Greece.

    The militarization, the commercialism, the nationalism have become too much for me.

  2. Gerdien
    Posted August 1, 2012 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    Perhaps you’re just getting older?

    • jeannette
      Posted August 1, 2012 at 9:35 am | Permalink

      Ha ha. I was just thinking the same thing as Jerry. I used to love watching the swimming and gymnastics competition. No more. I chalk it up to getting older and the commercialization of sports.

    • Alex T
      Posted August 1, 2012 at 9:46 am | Permalink

      I was thinking the same thing. I’ve lost interest in a lot of tv shows lately. No explanation, just that they all seem dull – I must be getting old and crotchety, and Jerry has always been crotchety so it’s an easy transition :)

      • JT
        Posted August 1, 2012 at 11:55 am | Permalink

        I agree with you about losing all interest in anything on television. I simply cannot be bothered to watch tv these days at all, Olympics or otherwise. However, I disagree with you on the reason behind it. I think, but I could be wrong, that people who are middle-aged and up tend to watch the greatest amount of tv. My parents, who are in their late 50s, are horribly addicted to television, particularly reality television. My mother has told me that my father, when he’s not at a work is either sleeping or watching television, and I don’t think he’s very unusual in that. Anyway, I don’t know why some people’s lives revolve around television while others have no interest in it. If I ever do watch a hockey game on tv I always make sure to mute the commercials, so maybe some of us just have a great sensitivity to and low tolerance for being bombarded with advertising. Watching a commercial makes me feel disgusted with myself and the state of the world. So maybe it’s more the commercialization that gets to us than the actual television programs. I don’t know.

        • jeannette
          Posted August 1, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

          You might be right about the problem being watching television in general. I rarely watch television at home, but I can’t visit a friend or relative without a TV blasting in the background. What little I have seen of reality television, I hate with a passion. The commercials are the worst and I can only imagine the political ads assaulting those watching the Olympics. Also, the network commentators over analyze everything. I’ll wait until some videos are posted on YouTube.

          • Adrian
            Posted August 1, 2012 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

            I disagree with it being an age thing. I think that so-called “reality” TV is the problem. It is just cheap TV that appeals to the lowest comon denominator.

            I am in my sixties and I finaly got rid of the box in the corner when I realised it was on most of the time but I wasn’t watching it. It was a background noise for which I was paying a substantial amount of money not to watch. In the UK we even have to pay for an licence to watch it. I don’t miss it, in fact I have re-acquainted myself with my old collection of music from the sixties and seventies. Much better.

            • Posted August 1, 2012 at 10:48 pm | Permalink

              I also have to disagree with the conclusion that one’s age is a good predictor of one’s interest in tv.

              I’m 33 and I have zero interest in almost everything on either the small or the large screen.

              Exceptions include: Nova, This Old House (and spinoffs), Good Eats (although I’ve seen them all) and a handful of movies.

              It seems to me the problem is that all the effort goes into packaging and image; not enough effort goes into the production of quality content.

              And most folks seem content to watch a bunch of well-dressed (or undressed) lawyers carouse around fancy offices…doing the same damn things they do every damn week. Which often isn’t much.

              As far as the Olympics are concerned, I see no reason to let modernuzation or commercialization extinguish one’s interest. Those are still impressive young athletes who have worked very hard and shown great determination in achieving their (often astounding) abilities. I can respect, celebrate, and get excited about that.

        • Tim
          Posted August 1, 2012 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

          My wife and I are old, not as decrepit as Jerry, but still really, really old – like ‘late 50′s’ old. We stopped the cable a couple of years ago – a jillion channels and nothing to watch. I think it was “reality” TV for me – the avaricious bastards don’t even want to pay writers, but want to serve up idiocy instead – forget it.

          The only TV I we watch now are series we rent on DVD/Blu-ray or stream – ad free and only what we want to watch.

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted August 2, 2012 at 6:00 am | Permalink

            Same here. ‘Reality’ TV makes me want to scream and start killing people. Starting with the producers of reality TV programs.

            I watch the news and that’s about it. For the rest I watch DVDs or spend (far too much) time on the Internet. (Sometimes they’re DVDs of TV series, but I’d rather pay to watch them on DVD – free of ads and when I want to – rather than bother to catch them on TV).

            Oh, and I usually mute the adverts. Mostly I don’t even notice what’s being advertised. The products I do notice, I often boycott.

  3. Griff
    Posted August 1, 2012 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    Isn’t it just one big advert? I loved it as a kid. I have no interest now.

  4. ladyatheist
    Posted August 1, 2012 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    I’ve become such a geek that my first reaction when I saw Missy Franklin was to search the internet for the symptoms of acromegaly. She is 6’1″ wears size 13 shoes, and has a huge chin.

    At age 16 she’s just a big girl. Could she still be growing?

    • Tim
      Posted August 1, 2012 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

      That’s nothing. I’m such a geek, that upon reading your post, I had to search the internet to find out who Missy Franklin is.

      • Marella
        Posted August 1, 2012 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

        Me too but I’m not American so maybe that helps.

  5. Alex T
    Posted August 1, 2012 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    Maybe the drama of the bible has made sports pale in comparison?

    • Eddie Janssen
      Posted August 1, 2012 at 11:20 am | Permalink

      :)

  6. Dominic
    Posted August 1, 2012 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    Well London is dead quiet – I work hard by Kings Cross & usually it is busy. Admittedly the schools broke up a week or so back, but still… I was so annoyed by the whole thing from the huge waste of money on elite sport to the ridiculous logo. Best thing I saw today was Bonkers Boris Johnson (mayor of London) stuck on a wire in Victoria Park. I agree – I have found it all very uninspiring. I detest the jingoism – why should I feel so great about someone just because we share a passport authority?

    • MadScientist
      Posted August 1, 2012 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

      I hope there’s not too much damage to the local businesses. That’s a side of the olympics that governments conspire to keep secret. Most local businesses have to close for a substantial period and receive no compensation. The official line is “the olympics is good for business” – yeah, but whose business?

      • rmw
        Posted August 1, 2012 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

        McDonald’s, Coke, GE, Panasonic, Visa, P&G…

  7. Posted August 1, 2012 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    The rampant corruption, cronyism, and jingoism did it for me quite some time ago.

    Yeah, watching top-notch athletes at their best is impressive, but hardly worth what we as a society put up with to witness it.

    b&

    • Occam
      Posted August 1, 2012 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

      Yes, all’s been sliding downhill ever since 484 BCE, when Astylos of Croton accepted the bribes of Gelon, tyrant of Syracuse, to switch allegiance to the latter’s colours. The infamous rascal won, too, the stadion and the diaulos on a single day, like in -488, with a final encore in -480, when he added the hoplitodromos to the day’s tally, which shows how underemployed those athletes really are. In the case of Astylos, jingoism was mitigated by venality; a redeeming virtue not shared by his erstwhile Croton compatriots, who were a tad miffed at the letdown and showed it forcefully.

      The true Olympic spirit was briefly rekindled in Berlin 1936, never better captured than by Leni Riefenstahl. But it was not to last: both the promising Tokyo Olympiad of 1940, sabotaged for political correctness, and the truly auspicious Rome Olympiad of 1944, a victim to British intrigues and bellicosity, never saw the lights of the stadion. Moscow 1980 was no match, Beijing 2008 dropped all pretense, and if we want a last ditch shot at the real thing in Pyöngyang in 2024, we’d better get our act together.

      • Posted August 1, 2012 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

        Heh, I was reading Occam’s comment with Michael Palin’s voice in my head, which makes it all the more amusing.

        An example of the voice I am referring to is Novel Writing

  8. gr8hands
    Posted August 1, 2012 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    It’s you. (no offense)

    Many of us enjoy watching the ceremonies, the drama, and cheer on the underdogs — not just mindlessly rant for our country’s athlete(s).

    We’ve been comparing previous Olympics, previous athletes, and marveling at the progress made.

    We pop popcorn, make snacks/drinks, and snuggle with pets on the couch in front of the high def spectacle.

    Perhaps you have been poisoned by reading the bible (I’ve read that it can do that), and it has affected your mood?

    • Dominic
      Posted August 1, 2012 at 9:50 am | Permalink

      Who were the Badminton underdogs? Is Simon Jenkins right that it is what is promoted – winning at all costs – that they did so they should not be castigated?

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/aug/01/london-2012-chinese-badminton-players-medals

      • RF
        Posted August 3, 2012 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

        I don’t understand how it is so different from teams taking a knee in the NFL, or people clinching in boxing. If they don’t want people throwing games, they shouldn’t arrange in the incentives to encourage that.

  9. JG
    Posted August 1, 2012 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    Could it be because most of the interesting events (e.g., the track & field) haven’t started yet?

  10. Posted August 1, 2012 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    I feel as Jerry does. I attribute it to the outrageous pomp and circumstance that surrounds the actual competitions. As I recall, there used to be less to distract one from the actual events. Quieter surroundings, less intro and lead up, fewer distractions. Now I find my attention is often distracted by some weird technology or famous person or other holding court. All the underwater cameras and high-tech close-ups make it easier to watch, sure; but by making it easier, they also make it easier to become distracted. IMHO.

  11. NewEnglandBob
    Posted August 1, 2012 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    IMHO, I think there are several factors.

    As we age, and having viewed many Olympiads over the years, we lose interest.

    There are also so many other phenomena to split our interest and distract us, including ones that are more tailored to our own personal interests.

    Even though there are unknown, young athletes that go from obscurity to world best, there are also the Kobe’s and LeBron’s who get paid astronomical amounts to partake of their sport.

  12. insidephotos
    Posted August 1, 2012 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    From the USA side of the pond we are forced to endure NBC’s coverage which has many failings. To mention just a few

    Commercials ever 5 to 10 minutes
    Utterly partisan – they only show other countries performances if they happen to be competing against the USA.

    Still too many mini-bio pics. (though less than last time)

    • eric
      Posted August 1, 2012 at 11:37 am | Permalink

      Yep, I agree. NBC’s TV coverage has not been great. It feels like they are showing fewer live events and more recaps, highlights, and human interest stories.

      On the plus side, the streaming video option isn’t bad. Click on the sport you want to watch and get hours of un-commentated coverage with about one 15-second commercial per 5-10 minutes. Its still annoying, but its much better than the ~30% commercial time on broadcast TV.

      • RF
        Posted August 3, 2012 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

        And not only does NBC air events non-live, sometimes it lies and says they are live.

        • Filippo
          Posted August 3, 2012 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

          ” . . . they are showing . . . more . . . human interest stories.”

          Is it mandatory for Olympic athletes to sign a contract requiring them to submit to being interviewed and videoed/filmed for these human interest stories? Or can they refuse? I’d really like to know. Does anyone know?

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted August 2, 2012 at 6:10 am | Permalink

      I suspect every country does it. Here in NZ, I get pissed off every time they cut away from, say, the high jump where the last couple of competitors in the competition are warming up for their shot at a gold medal, to cover the table tennis where some New Zealander is trying to win their match and come seventh.

      I want to see the best performances and I DON’T CARE what countries the athletes come from.

      Patriotism sucks.

  13. Jacob
    Posted August 1, 2012 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    The ability to stream the matches directly from the NBC site has reignited my interest in the Olympics. In the past, access to the matches has always been a huge barrier, but now I can watch all kinds of esoteric sports, as well as the big matches without having to wait for NBC to show them.

    • Hayden
      Posted August 1, 2012 at 10:17 am | Permalink

      Except even NBC’s coverage online is terrible. You can only watch online coverage if you happen to have the correct type of cable subscription. Even then, they will opt to not show certain events if it will boost their ratings in some way.

      For example, my friend was trying to stream the women’s gymnastics competition yesterday afternoon, but the stream wasn’t available until the prime time coverage started. And we’re on the west coast, meaning the stream wasn’t available until after prime time coverage had ended on the east coast.

      • Jacob
        Posted August 1, 2012 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

        The streaming service does include most of the major cable providers, so most Americans should have access to it. The second complaint is a problem, but almost all of the sports are available to watch (today, for instance, only diving and gymnastics weren’t shown). It’s still possible to stream basically all of the swimming, basketball, tennis, etc. It’s not a great service, but at least it gives unprecedented access that wasn’t available before.

        • Hayden
          Posted August 1, 2012 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

          We “only” have basic cable, which doesn’t make us eligible for online streaming.

  14. Isaac Domagalski
    Posted August 1, 2012 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    Eh, I can dig the Olympics. Maybe it’s because I’m young or that I used to be on a couple of sports teams, but I can enjoy watching the swimming and water polo events. Track and field is fun to watch as well. Nothing beats actually being in the stands.

  15. Posted August 1, 2012 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    I’ve lost interest in all professional sports, including the Olympics. It seems that more and more the drama is becoming the spectacle instead of the sport. I guess it’s all about entertainment now.

    • MadScientist
      Posted August 1, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

      I feel that way about motor sports. When the TV ads are pushing the DVD of the “Highlights of …” they show nothing but the accidents. I’ve yet to meet anyone who watches motor sports for the accidents – perhaps there are such people but the ads give the impression that it’s the only thing worth watching. Other sports aren’t spared either; the Tour de France seems to be the latest victim of that sort of advertising.

  16. rodgerma
    Posted August 1, 2012 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    I don’t watch TV, but I can still relate.
    TV here in USA is very special. Hardly any “live” TV. And if it is, there has to be a few seconds delay to avoid kids from getting blind should a tit “accidentally” show up.
    I would think the excitement would be to see the “drama” as it happens. Most of the time, there is no drama, and you have just spent 90 minutes watching a soccer game ending 0 to 0. But when drama happens, it’s supposed to be awesome. And it probably is for most sports interested.
    But again, here in the USA, only the highlights are shown. And those involving Americans, to boot. Hours after it really happened.
    It’s like watching a movie at the theater and considering it “Breaking News”.
    But what it really is, is big time business. As in advertising.
    How people can take it is beyond me. So I don’t watch. TV. Not at all.
    I came across another “foreigner” (Mano Singham) sharing my take on freethoughtblog. Feel free to read @ http://tinyurl.com/bwhgyr9
    It’s sad though. All those young athletes putting so much effort into it, and it’s not striking a cord.
    Would I have felt differently, had I watched real live TV? Probably, had I been into sports…

  17. Jacqueline Kluft
    Posted August 1, 2012 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    Not me. I still love them! Michael Phelps news hasn’t dominated the actual coverage, if you watch events as opposed to quick highlights. However, last night, he deserved the attention. There’s always new stories of persistence and renewal. Young faces mixed with older favorites. Pure inspiration for the common athletes out there, like me. I watch them at the gym.

  18. Mal
    Posted August 1, 2012 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    Is it true that NBC aren’t showing it live but are putting on recordings during peak hours with 20 minutes of ads per hour? If so I can’t understand anyone watching it!

    In the UK the BBC are showing it and practically any event can be seen live (as I speak there are 3 live terrestrial channels and 18 streaming on the WWW). The jingoism is a little annoying though. Hopefully it’ll calm down now GB Have got a medal.

    • Sajanas
      Posted August 1, 2012 at 10:25 am | Permalink

      Most things are on a tape delay. And, honestly, they should be, because the 5-9 hour time difference will mean that most of the events will happen during business hours, and I’d have to tape them to watch them anyway, unless it was the weekend. I think NBC is right to pick the most interesting sports and put them on when people will watch them. Its just the amount of commercials and bios that makes it hard to stomach.

  19. bric
    Posted August 1, 2012 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    Go Wiggo!

    • Mal
      Posted August 1, 2012 at 10:01 am | Permalink

      Don’t do a spoiler on the cycle persuit, the Americans won’t see it for 6 hours!

    • TJR
      Posted August 1, 2012 at 10:07 am | Permalink

      Is it just me or does Bradley Wiggins look like a refugee from the 70s?

  20. Dominic
    Posted August 1, 2012 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    This might be of interest – if Phelps were a country…

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/datablog/2012/aug/01/if-michael-phelps-were-a-country?intcmp=239

    • Nick Evans
      Posted August 2, 2012 at 11:37 am | Permalink

      If Phelps were a country, how many medals would he have won in the relays?

  21. Jim Jones
    Posted August 1, 2012 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    I remember Eddie the Eagle. Everyone else? Not so much.

    • Stephen P
      Posted August 1, 2012 at 10:54 am | Permalink

      If I were to pinpoint the moment when I lost interest in the Olympics, it would be when they changed the rules to prevent Eddie competing. That made it clear that the Olympics were all about the egos of the officials, and not about the spectators or competitors, let alone about the community of nations.

      But since then it’s just got worse and worse. Got a poster in your window from a company other than an official sponsor? The police can break into your house to take it down. Anti-aircraft missiles on blocks of flats? Total insanity.

      The Olympics isn’t a sporting event – it’s an occupying force.

      • Nick Evans
        Posted August 2, 2012 at 11:39 am | Permalink

        Plenty of people competing in Eddie’s ability range this year, as every other year. Witness the Guinean swimmer and the Nigerien rower. (Or even the British handball and water polo teams.)

    • HaggisForBrains
      Posted August 1, 2012 at 10:58 am | Permalink

      The epitome of sporting spirit.

    • TJR
      Posted August 1, 2012 at 11:42 am | Permalink

      I think he’s still the British record holder for ski-jump, simply because he’s the only Briton who’s ever bothered to do it.

      Odd, since normally we do all sports, no matter how obscure or ridiculous, but in the case of ski jumping we’ve collectively looked at it and thought “Nah, that’s stupid, we’ll stick to bog-snorkelling thanks”.

  22. TJR
    Posted August 1, 2012 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    I know a lot of people who’ve got tickets, but I’ve not even watched anything on TV yet. As most of you are saying, its hard to get enthusiastic. Plus I hardly ever watch TV in the summer anyway, it seems a waste of the opportunity to read by daylight.

    I followed it up to and including 1992, but once it became clear that everyone was taking drugs, not just the east europeans, I lost interest.

    I’ll still try to watch the men’s 100m final though.

  23. Posted August 1, 2012 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    GO HERE to discover how to stream the BBC’s official Olympics coverage & overcome the NBC fail

    I’m looking forward to the proper track & field Olympics + martial art events

    I would like to see the removal of team events such as football, but leave the relay stuff

    • ploubere
      Posted August 1, 2012 at 11:46 am | Permalink

      Yeah, well, if I have to go to such lengths to watch the events, then I can’t be bothered. It is because of NBC’s coverage that I’ve lost interest – every time I tune in, it’s either a commercial or a feel-good piece, or enthused commentators saying nothing of consequence while not actually showing an event.

    • JT
      Posted August 1, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

      There’s no football at the Olympics. Oh wait, you mean soccer.

      • Posted August 1, 2012 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

        Welcome to the rest of the world.

      • Nick260682
        Posted August 1, 2012 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

        No, he definitely means football. You know, the sport you play predominantly with your feet. Not for example with say…..your hands. Hence the name.

        • Filippo
          Posted August 2, 2012 at 9:38 am | Permalink

          “There’s no football at the Olympics. Oh wait, you mean soccer.”

          “No, he definitely means football. You know, the sport you play predominantly with your feet. Not for example with say…..your hands. Hence the name”

          As regards “soccer,” one notes that one wears a “sock” on ones “foot.” ;)

        • Notagod
          Posted August 2, 2012 at 9:43 am | Permalink

          Even when I liked American football I was always unhappy about the name and I’m an USAian. I would love to have people start calling it handsball and oblige the cult of followers to accept it as such. It might even inspire me to take another look at handsball.

  24. Brad
    Posted August 1, 2012 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    Wow, that’s crazy talk. Perhaps you’ve developed a callus to the amazingly cool spectacle of the Olympic Games. Consider that everyone there is absolutely obsessed with their chosen field. Everyone. Consider that these guys have been sharpening their skills almost nonstop for most of their lives. Nonstop. Consider the beauty of what Olympic-level physical mastery looks like, and it’s everywhere you care to look because of this gorgeous tradition of bringing it all under one tent. If you find this boring I can assure you its not the games that have failed, but ones own media-primed imagination that has.

    • gr8hands
      Posted August 1, 2012 at 11:34 am | Permalink

      +1.

    • Gregory Kusnick
      Posted August 1, 2012 at 11:49 am | Permalink

      I sit on the board of a top-rank ballet school and spend a lot of time with professional-track teenage dancers. These kids are world-class athletes in their own right, at the top of their field, having spent their entire lives getting to that level. Working with them is a great privilege and hugely rewarding.

      So I get all that. But I still find NBC’s Olympic coverage tepid, boring, and even downright annoying.

    • Notagod
      Posted August 2, 2012 at 9:51 am | Permalink

      If that was actually what was being presented, and I think many years ago it was, I would likely be interested but, what is being presented in the US is a media circus together with a money machine at work. I’ve already overdose on US capitalism at the expense of maximizing the enjoyment of life. It seems a waste of most peoples lives to worship at the alter of gods and billionaires.

  25. Posted August 1, 2012 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    It’s the bears. Colbert is right; bears ruin everything.

  26. Hayden
    Posted August 1, 2012 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    I’ll bet it has at least something to do with NBC’s crap coverage.

    I was watching a beach volley ball match yesterday. They only showed the second set of the match, and they cut out about ten points in the middle of the set for a commercial break. Not to mention, I don’t think they showed a single rings routine in the men’s gymnastics competition.

  27. Chris
    Posted August 1, 2012 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    I’m getting close-to-violent mood swings over the Olympics.

    The run up was a nightmare, and now I’m feeling kind of conflicted as 1) I quite like some of the sports 2) it’s making me feel old 3) the whole organization from IOC downwards has left a bad taste but 4) a small part of me actually wants to go see something as it won’t happen again in my lifetime.

    #4 is a very small part, but is enough to be causing a nasty itch!

  28. Caroline
    Posted August 1, 2012 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    Spare a thought for me as a Brit. I’m thoroughly fed up of the 24/7 coverage. Can’t avoid it on TV, even by flicking through TV channels. Catch the adverts and they all feature the Olympic sponsors – I feel like throwing a brick at the TV!!!

    Don’t like the Olympics – not interested in sport, and the vast public expense (£12bn and counting) isn’t justified when there are swathes of empty seats at venues. It’s a lie that the Olympics will create an economic boom for the host country; past hosts like Greece will testify to this. They hosted the 2004 Games, and are now bankrupt with a stadium and facilities that have been abandoned and left to fall apart because no one uses them. And it took another host, Montreal, 30 years to pay off their debts for the 1976 Olympics. Like wise, Stadiums in Sydney and Beijing – not used. What an horrendous waste of public resources!

  29. Posted August 1, 2012 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    This is the first year I’ve been able to watch nearly every bit of the equestrian events. The cross-country Monday was fantastic and I got to watch it live online (Eastern time).

    It was a pain to set up the online feed, but it’s been easy since then. I still need to watch the show-jumping held yesterday, but I should be able to watch it all as it was filmed. They seem to also have some highlight videos.

    I’m finding the coverage of the equestrian events excellent, with lots of camera angles and even some instant replays. Scores post right away too.

    With the online stuff, I’ve only seen commercials every 15 minutes or so and sometimes they are short, so it’s not too annoying.

    I’ll try watching some other sports too, but I’ll do it all online (I can hook my laptop to my TV, which is great.

  30. Chris Quartly
    Posted August 1, 2012 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    All the people I know back home who have managed to get tickets have had a great time and seem to be very impressed.

    I should have more interest, but I feel a bit more disconnected from it now I’m not living in England, I suspect if I were there I would be watching most of it.

  31. FastLane
    Posted August 1, 2012 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    Problem for me is that most of the events I like (archery, martial arts, much of the equestrian) aren’t televised. I hope the streaming is available for a while afterwards, since my wife and I might watch some of them that way.

    • eric
      Posted August 1, 2012 at 11:48 am | Permalink

      It should be. Fencing started on the first day of the Olympics, and that first day is still available on the web (or it was last night), so I’m guessing the same is true of other sports.

      I’d check out those sports now, though, if for no other reason than the time commitment. You aren’t going to watch them all in one fell swoop; a single day’s competition in one sport typically takes hours.

  32. JBlilie
    Posted August 1, 2012 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    Same thing happened to me around the time of the Atlanta Olypmics. I think it was the increasing level of hype around it. Just got sick of the over-touting. And, honestly: All the human-interest type stories? Mostly, I just don’t care: I tuned in for the action, not for the back story … (There are a few stories worth telling; but folks, get an editor — not all the stories are worth the spotlight.)

  33. Filipe
    Posted August 1, 2012 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    It’s old age. I used to stay awake when a kid to see my country’s athletes and that nationalistic vibe made sense. Now it just seems so pointless, I don’t care much about «winning for the country» and I think those people should be doing something way more useful with their lives.

  34. Posted August 1, 2012 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    Back in the late 1960s there was a lot of radical critique of sports, and the Olympics came in for pointed criticism. It seems that the original intent of Baron de Coubertin in creating the modern Olympics was as a counterweight to nationalism, and to encourage friendship among athletes from different countries (recall this was in the buildup to World War I). The critique from 40 years ago is still valid. Instead of Coubertin’s intent we have medal-counting, massive flag-waving, and rampant commercialization. And all that is sold to us as The Olympic Ideal.

    • Caroline
      Posted August 2, 2012 at 4:28 am | Permalink

      Couldn’t agree with you more. I loathe the Olympics for the commercialism and the hype. You cannot escape the 24/7 media coverage. When I sit down to watch TV in the evening, I’m constantly flicking through the TV channels to find something that is non-Olympic related, but to no avail. Even when you do find something, you still can’t escape the Olympics, because all the adverts are of the Olympic sponsors! Mad! Completely mad!!!

  35. Hempenstein
    Posted August 1, 2012 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    In our youth there may also be an element of feeling that, if we trained as much as those people did, we too could compete with them. Now, there’s no chance of that.

    The Eyes of Lucy Jordan…

    • Anthony Paul
      Posted August 1, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

      I agree with that. When you’re young(er) sports can seem “important” or “meaningful” because, however much fantasy may be involved, you have a notion that you could do that too. And lots of people around you pay attention to it. When you’re old(er) you can be sure you can’t or won’t do it, and you may also have enough experience to wonder why other people think it’s so important. I can still watch some sports on tv, but very few and not routinely.

  36. Posted August 1, 2012 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    As an American stuck with NBC (I’m not motivated enough to set something else up on-line), all I can say is that Bob Costas sucks my will to live. Hence, I haven’t been watching much at all.

  37. Gregory Kusnick
    Posted August 1, 2012 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    My mother-in-law is following the games avidly, but I usually go into another room to read or something for several reasons:

    The inanity of the NBC commentators is breathtaking. Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira at the opening ceremonies were like that annoying couple behind you in the movie theater who just won’t shut up.

    The over-emphasis on the “human drama” of it. Last night I saw a young Russian gymnast blow her routine, and from the moment she stepped off the mat, the cameras were right there in her face to relay the depth of her personal humiliation to the world. Inexcusable. These so-called journalists are no better than papparazzi. Just show me the games, and leave the private lives out of it.

    Some of the sports just leave me cold, particularly the ones that involve subjective judging rather than objective measurement. Synchronized diving? OK, fine, but I really don’t need to see as much of that sort of thing as they’re showing.

  38. Scott near Berkeley
    Posted August 1, 2012 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    I haven’t watched a lick of it, and barely read about it online or in the newspapers. The commercials on TV make it nearly un-watchable. I used to be an ardent watcher as well, especially when the “Evil Empire” (Soviet bloc) with all their drug enhanced professionals with state financed training competed against our valiant “amateurs”. At least the story was good drama. The artificial nationalism in an interconnected world, with instant communication (the Global Village) is diminished and unnecessary: Why should Malawi get an equal but separate entry compared to the USA? By dint of the geography of the globe, the event should be divided the event into teams of much, much smaller areas than “China” or “USA”: maybe ten from the USA and twenty separate teams from China. Currently, USA versus Sierra Leone in -anything-…what’s that??!

    That said, the expanding, overwhelming number of participants and events is also a problem. It’s kind of like simultaneously staging all of Shakespeare’s plays on a gigantic 7-hectare platform. Each performer may be exceptional, but as a whole, a cacophonous spectacle. One feels the need to flee from it.

  39. Posted August 1, 2012 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    It’s just dull! Watching folk run round a track again and a gain, or jumping into some water together just doesn’t do it for me. The highlight so far has been the Korean flags mix up

    • Marta
      Posted August 1, 2012 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

      Well, that, and the badminton scandal. That’s been a bit interesting. Otherwise, it’s just highlight reels. So boring.

    • Caroline
      Posted August 2, 2012 at 4:30 am | Permalink

      Oh so true! I feel exactly the same way about this hyped up, vainglorious, display of vanity, and an horrendous waste of public resources!!!

  40. jay
    Posted August 1, 2012 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    The Olympics has been lost behind a mindless display of meaningless spectacle, and commercial and especially IOC manipulation.

    I am NOT opposed to the concept of commercial sponsorship (someone needs to pay the bills) until that gets in the way. And that’s what happened. IOC and it’s pocket lining sponsors endeavor to control everything, manipulate the public and milk everything. Warren Meyer (Forbes commentator) discussed on his blog how ‘logo police’ actually monitor what clothing spectators are wearing, just to be sure there are no overt displays of ‘unapproved’ logos. Restaurants and stores are actually policed and cited if anything in their displays or ads seems to connected to the Olympics.

    It’s not about the fans enjoying the show and sharing with friends, it’s not even about a reasonable pride when one’s nation does well… it’s all about controlling and milking every last dime and making damned sure nobody gets anything for free.

    screw’em

    • Posted August 1, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

      Watch Bradley Wiggins cycling back down the track to thank all the fans that didn’t get tickets to the see the finish of the time trials, and the father of Chad Le Clos getting super-emotional about his son winning gold.

      The IOC suck but the Olympics itself still has some real human drama and sporting heroes. (Perhaps watching the action on advert-free channels stops me getting so jaded?)

      • Bric
        Posted August 1, 2012 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

        Totally agree, I have zero interest in canoeing but watching Helen Glover Heather Stanning live was terrific – once it’s old news the visceral thrill is gone. Luckily I’m retired and in the UK so I can see it as it happens on 24 free-to-air channels with narry an advert.

        • Pensnest
          Posted August 3, 2012 at 3:02 am | Permalink

          Er, you did notice that they were rowing, not canoeing, I hope?

          The men’s fours race yesterday was ridiculously exciting.

    • Nick Evans
      Posted August 2, 2012 at 11:50 am | Permalink

      No “logo police” around when I went. Suspect there’s as much hype around them as there is around countries’ favoured athletes.

      It’s annoying that the Taiwanese can’t use their own flag because everybody’s kowtowing to China, and the Saudis get to insist on hampering their women’s performances by making them wear unsuitable outfits. And the colour scheme is hideous. But otherwise the commercialisation seems no worse than previously, the performances are equally compelling, and the volunteers and spectators are creating a fantastic atmosphere.

    • Uglyhip
      Posted August 4, 2012 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

      They have logo police this year? I thought the whole point of this year’s logo was that no one with working eyeballs would want to copy it.

  41. Posted August 1, 2012 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    NBC’s coverage is terrible. But I’d just be repeating everyone else if I only parroted that.

    What bothered me in particular in last night’s recap of Phelps winning “his” 19th medal was that it wasn’t really his. It was a relay race. And the reporter poolside had the audacity to say something along the lines of “How does it feel to help Phelps reach his historic achievement” and go on and on about how the relay was structured to give Phelps a lead.

    Relays are a team effort. I swam in high school, and the 3 guys and myself on the relay team were very tight. A relay win is a win for all 4.

    There is too much individual focus, and not enough coverage of other sports. I’m only 21 and I’m disenchanted.

    • jeannette
      Posted August 1, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

      I was annoyed by the coverage as well. All my city newspapers had only M. Phelps photo and not his relay team. C’mon it was a team effort. Sheesh!

      • mordacious1
        Posted August 1, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

        Yeah, maybe they should put the emphasis on some of the other Olympians that have won 19 medals. How rude of them.

        • Jeannette
          Posted August 2, 2012 at 5:21 am | Permalink

          Yes, it was rude of them.

  42. Posted August 1, 2012 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    Yep, marketing and money always spoil what they touch. Because the basis for decisions become internalized and removed from the audience/customers/users.

    Of course, they ruin what they pay for — getting the attention of people who can give them money buying their stuff.

    The ad execs make decisions that please them and their in-group power needs, not the audiences. Same in politics — human nature. Ho hum.

  43. Posted August 1, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    A problem is that the limit of human capabilities has been reached. When an event, such as swimming, can have six people arriving at the finish within a single second (as in Phelp’s .01 second win in the last Olympics) then you know that the limit has been reached. Winning by a hundredth or a few hundredths of a second simply means that that’s about it folks. When people can race down a mountain at literally breakneck speed and several reach the finish with a second or a fraction of a second – that’s it. Time for some new stuff. The high point is now the opening ceremony. The rest? Not so much.

    • Posted August 1, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

      Good point – thus, faux drama.

    • blitz442
      Posted August 1, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

      Perhaps for men, but not for women. I don’t think that women have come close to their maximum capabilties in some sports. Weightlifting is just one example.

  44. Filippo
    Posted August 1, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    For starters, during the opening pageant, play, skit – whatever exactly it’s called – when it came to the point where viewers laid eyes on the person identified to them as Tim Berners-Lee, Meredith Viera uttered words to the effect, if not verbatim, “WHO is Tim Berners-Lee? We don’t know either.”

    Such fatuous bloviation absolutely wears me out and prompted me to stop watching the Olympics competition no later than 1996. Now I guess I’ll stop watching even the opening ceremony.

    The definite implication of her comment is that the level of scientific-technological-cultural-historical literacy of Merdith Viera in particular, and Amuricun television viewers in general, is the prime benchmark by which to evaluate the accomplishment of someone in a “STEM” profession, in this case the accomplishment being the conceptualization (creation?) of the World Wide Web which, like cellphones and satellites and GPS and a host of other technologies (remember Nobellist Charles Townes and his maser/laser?), are cluelessly used by the Bread and Circus crowd, which can’t be troubled to learn the simplest fundamental scientific and mathematical principles used by engineers to design them.

  45. blitz442
    Posted August 1, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    Is it because if you live in the US, you have to be exposed to Bob Costas in order to watch the Olympics on network tv?

    • Newman
      Posted August 1, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

      THIS. ugh. (Sorry for the useless comment. Won’t happen again.)

  46. Posted August 1, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    i worked for the games twice — in my home country in athens, and in beijing. at first i thought i was just burned out by them, but i’m also bothered by the corporations, the censorship — the fact that they’ve departed from the original concept.

    i haven’t watched ANYTHING from the games, other than a time-lapse of the opening ceremony online.

    • Filippo
      Posted August 1, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

      Re: censorship, if you don’t mind educating me a bit.

      By censorship do you mean that, at least in part, athletes have to sign a contract saying that they will not, for instance, make disparaging comments about those in charge of the Games, or about corporate sponsors, or about rude and mouthy “color analysts”?

      Do they have to sign a contract requiring them to submit to interviews by the television broadcaster, whether they want to or not? That they can’t verbally on-air or otherwise for publication express their displeasure at having a TV camera in their faces during a time of distress or disappointment?

  47. Posted August 1, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    I don’t find it as exciting as when I was a little kid (always loved the gymnastics), but I’ve enjoyed following the headlines and liveblogs in the Grauniad.

  48. Posted August 1, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    I wonder how much of it is the timing? I am really enjoying it this time as I live in the UK and we have 24 free HD (advert-free) BBC channels covering the action. Somehow, when you know it isn’t live, it immediately loses a bit of impact (for me). The last Olympics was very flat for me because it was all highlights, which should (in theory) be more exciting but somehow aren’t as they don’t really capture the Olympic spirit.

  49. Newman
    Posted August 1, 2012 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    I never watch the highlights or primetime. Primetime is what’s wrong with the Olympics broadcasting anyway. If there’s a game/match that I really want to see (e.g. women’s soccer/football), I want to watch it live. Tape delay doesn’t belong in sports. That’s what irritates me about watching the Olympics on NBC. I didn’t watch the winter games in Vancouver at all because even though we were in the same time zone in California, NBC still tape delayed almost everything to please its advertisers.

    • Newman
      Posted August 1, 2012 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

      I prefer watching the live streams online. Here in the US, many of them are announcer-free.

  50. David Leech
    Posted August 1, 2012 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    I’m from the UK and the olympics don’t interest me as it’s just which country has the best pharmacy.

  51. stabbinfresh
    Posted August 1, 2012 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    Jerry, I kinda feel the same as you. I normally enjoy watching the Olympic games very much, but this year I just do not care. Phelps’s run is certainly a huge athletic achievement but for some reason I can’t get as excited about it as I did when he won his 8 gold medals last time around. Certainly what he has done is remarkable, it just isn’t exciting me this time. Perhaps all the professionals getting in on this makes it less interesting. I guess I’ll just wait for the Winter games and enjoy the hockey on Olympic sized rinks…

  52. gbjames
    Posted August 1, 2012 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    I never paid that much attention in the past. As they have gotten more commercialized they become even less appealing.

  53. Posted August 1, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    I am still watching, yet I share your view. I’m pretty positive that NBC is to blame for taking the passion out. Their programming department has decided all the emphasis should be on gymnastics and swimming while the soccer, volleyball, water polo, biking, and crewing are less desirable because of filming far away or in a less steril environment.

  54. MKray
    Posted August 1, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    Circenses

  55. mordacious1
    Posted August 1, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    I turned on the prime time coverage the last two nights and it started with a half hour or so of synchronized diving (with 40 commercials). You put “synchronized” into any sport and you’ve lost my interest. So I turned it off and read a book.

    The other problem I have is the sports NBC chooses to show. I like sports where at least two competitors are going against each other at the same time. Any kind of race or boxing…not some guy trying to do his best on a floor gymnastics event. Boring.

    And I don’t need to see the American basketball team, with its multi-million dollar players, beating everyone that comes near them (of course, if some underdog team kicked their butts, I’d watch that).

    • Posted August 1, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

      I think you might be overlooking the fact that the divers were slim, athletic, underaged girls in skintight bathing suits. Presumably, said girls were also climbing in and out of the water and adjusting their suits as they did so. (“Presumably” because I have no TV.)

      Not that I’m suggesting that that should have appealed to you, but I think it might be a bit naïve to think that that had nothing to do with NBC’s choice of programming.

      Cheers,

      b&

      • mordacious1
        Posted August 1, 2012 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

        Ben

        Yes, my 20 year old son, who doesn’t like sports, watched the whole event. So I’m sure there’s something in that. He seems to like beach volleyball too, for some reason.

  56. Janice C
    Posted August 1, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    The pure athleticism involving years of hard work, tremendous skill & superior genes of the athletes are the reasons I like to watch the Olympics, but honestly I’m just loving my Brown Bear/Salmon cam (thanks for the link Jerry.)

  57. Posted August 1, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    Seriously?

    Everyone’s turned into my dad on the quiet.

  58. Don Bysouth
    Posted August 1, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    ….boring….and yep i’m getting older !!!!

  59. stacylpg
    Posted August 1, 2012 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

    Not only not watching Olympics, but now into my second year of no TV at all. Some things on computer are still fine but then I can control the commercial interruption.
    There really are plenty of other fixations that seem to make sporting events in general pale in comparison – at least that’s true in my world.

  60. mandrellian
    Posted August 1, 2012 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

    I must say I’m the same way this time around – I loved the Beijing games and watched as much as Oz tv would show. Having said that, the commentators/presenters on the Aust free-to-air TV coverage this year are the most irritating they’ve been for several Olympics. Channel 9 seems to have an affirmative action policy for annoying wankers.

    Or maybe I lost interest when I heard the UK govt were installing freaking surface-air missile launchers on top of peoples’ apartment buildings. That kind of hysteria tends to put a damper on things.

    • mandrellian
      Posted August 1, 2012 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

      Having said that I’m pretty sure I’ll tune in to watch Uhsain Bolt. And probably little else.

      • Filippo
        Posted August 1, 2012 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

        I trust that this time, if he wins, he will comport himself graciously and not like a drama king playing Zeus with the thunderbolt: “Time flies like an arrow, and fruit flies like bananas.” (Professor Steve Jones)

  61. Sophy
    Posted August 1, 2012 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

    For me part of it is the way they demean the individual athletes and specific sports themselves. Every sport has its own rhythm and tension but the coverage never lets that show. EVERY event has to be pulled, jammed and mangled into the same relentless formula. So the story that gets told about girl’s gymnastics is the same as that of men’s rowing teams and soccer and weightlifting and archery. They have one, usually tirelessly nationalist, narrative and that is all they ever use. Every second of footage gets chopped and changed to fit it. Its pablum and baby food and mashed potatoes with bland gravy which is kind of an insult to those who’ve worked so hard to get there.

  62. jose
    Posted August 1, 2012 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know the reason but it’s not the Olympics. Ye and Douglas were amazing to watch.

    And the Spanish soccer team keeps giving me the giggles.

  63. Don
    Posted August 1, 2012 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

    I think it’s just you because I have watched them all of my life and I have never been more excited. This is the first time that I can see everything I like, when I like, On Demand.

  64. Cremnomaniac
    Posted August 1, 2012 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

    I too have not watched a single minute. I used to love that stuff. I was miffed I missed the cycling race however.

    That said, I believe the reason my interest wanes is because of the hyper-nationalism, politicization, money, and those incredibly arrogant, egotistical, and money grubbing members of the IOC.

    Simply, the spirit of the Olympics has been corrupted, and is now just a business, everything is for sale. I feel sorry for the athletes.

    NBC had to shell out an enormous sum of approximately $3.5 billion in order to broadcast the 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012 games.

    Here’s a bit more on the olympic sell-out.
    Commercialization of the Olympic Games

    • Sawdust Sam
      Posted August 2, 2012 at 2:45 am | Permalink

      To paraphrase Parkinson’s Law: Expenses expand to accommodate the amount of money available.

  65. Posted August 1, 2012 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

    At least while all the kids are staying at home watching the Olympics they are staying off my lawn…

  66. kranskydog
    Posted August 1, 2012 at 11:26 pm | Permalink

    For me it is just the rampant nationalism and jingoism as well as the commercialism and cronyism involved. The idea that national identity is so tied up with performance in the olympics that countries spend huge sums to ensure their athletes are competitive. The idea that if an athlete doesn’t perform to expectations, they have ‘let their country down’ and are a national disgrace. The idea that someone can be a national hero because they can get from one end of a pool to the other faster than 7 other people. The idea that athletes think they deserve to be treated as something special for exactly the same reason.

    The idea that any of it matters at all.

  67. corio37
    Posted August 2, 2012 at 3:25 am | Permalink

    I wonder if the Internet is gradually eroding the feeling that people in other countries are weird and dangerous aliens whom we must impress and intimidate with our prowess? I know there are now people from all around the world whom I feel far closer and far more connected to than most of my fellow Australians. The fact that someone who can run fast happens to have been born fifty kilometres away from me rather than five thousand seems very trivial in this cybernetic age.

  68. michieux
    Posted August 2, 2012 at 4:33 am | Permalink

    Perhaps it is because scientists appear too have found a gene that’s common to, and helps, “elite” athletes — it was on our evening news Thursday, 2 August 2012, here in Melbourne, Australia. This discovery would make it a non-level playing field, I would think.

  69. Posted August 3, 2012 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been loving them. I love sports and have always loved seeing the (mostly amateur) athletes compete on a world stage. The women’s gymnastics team was amazing. The things they can do ON A 4 INCH WIDE BEAM! are utterly astounding. And to do them with the whole world watching. It’s the ultimate drama and art/beauty/motion all wrapped up into one. Plus it’s just really great to see the athlete’s faces light up after all the hard work they put in. For most of them, this is the biggest moment of their life.

    That said I hate the commercials, the jingoism, the life-story segments, and the crappy coverage.

  70. Posted August 4, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    I feel the same way, and I think it’s because the Olympics were more interesting when we had that cold war rivalry with the Soviet Block. Also, week two is always better than week one because track and field starts.

  71. Posted August 5, 2012 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    I’ve been feeling the same way and wondering, also, if it were only me.

  72. ginger k
    Posted August 5, 2012 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

    NBC’s coverage truly sucks. I’ve been watching the BBC coverage online, and it’s outstanding. The commentators are actually knowledgeable and intelligent, as opposed to NBC’s gymnastics commentators who cannot even pronounce the athletes’ names correctly. BBC shows the entire competition (did you know that OTHER COUNTRIES actually send athletes to compete?!) while NBC shows Michael Phelps picking his nose. Oy vey. Watch BBC; you won’t be disappointed in the Olympics.


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