Why I Love the Olympics (But Kind of Hate NBC)

In case you haven’t noticed, the 2012 Summer Olympics are now in full swing.  Medals are being awarded left and right and because of the tape delay, avoiding spoilers is an Olympic sport in its own right.

I love the Olympics.  I always have.  I still remember exactly where I was when I watched Kerri Strug stick the landing on her second vault in 1996 (in a hotel room in Corpus Christi, in case you’re curious).  I love the pageantry and the excitement and all the wonderful stories that inevitably come out during these couple of weeks.  I love how everyone finds their own weird, niche sport to follow that they never cared about before (mine is team handball…it’s so fun!).

It’s so inspiring to watch people push themselves to the absolute limit and then surpass it.  Seeing the things the swimmers and divers and gymnasts can make their bodies do floors me.  Watching the things they do just makes me marvel at God’s creation and the genius of the human body (of course, I don’t miss the irony of me sitting on the couch for two weeks admiring the feats the human body is capable of when treated well).  I was thinking yesterday of how insane it is that every single Olympics world records are broken.  Athletes are just continually getting faster and stronger, not only in comparison to each other, but to all of history as well.

My favorite part, though, is hearing the athlete’s stories.  I know some people are tired of hearing the same sob stories they heard in qualifying, but I didn’t watch qualifying so it’s all new to me.  I especially love when an athlete no one saw coming blows everyone out of the water, such as 15-year-old Ruta Meilutyte from Lithuania winning the 100m breaststroke yesterday or the Mexican synchronized diving team winning silver with their crazy-difficult dives.

One thing I don’t love, like everyone else, is NBC’s coverage of the Olympics.  I don’t mind that things are tape-delayed; NBC is a business and it makes sense to broadcast the most popular events in the evenings when people are home from work.  Plus, the live feeds offered online for those of us lucky enough to not be at work (until tomorrow anyway) are excellent, so if you really want to see it when it’s happening you can.

But goodness, the coverage in the evenings has been horrible.  Things were shown out of order, scores were not posted on the screen where we could see, only the second half of some beach volleyball sets were shown, etc., etc., etc.  Having watched the men’s gymnastics team final live yesterday, I was appalled by the way it was shown last night.  They left out some incredibly fantastic routines – Chen Yibing from China on rings, Denis Ablyazin from Russia on floor, all of Ukraine on vault, and pretty much everyone on the horizontal bar were just some of the highlights that weren’t shown.

And then the end was just confusing if you hadn’t watched live.  They were bouncing all over the arena, so you couldn’t get a sense of what order things happened in.  I never once saw them post the team scores, so you couldn’t really tell which team was placed where and what they needed to do to get a medal.  I do think they explained the whole mess with Japan challenging the score pretty well, and was glad Uchimura got the score he deserved, although I felt just awful for the Ukrainian team.  Even so, there seemed to be a lot of very confused people on Facebook at the end of all of that.

The women’s team final is today, and chances are the coverage will be just as bad.  I strongly urge anyone reading this before 10:30am to watch the live feed online if at all possible.  You can actually have two videos going, one large and with sound and the other to the side, so I would recommend watching the main feed to get highlights from all the competitors, but have the individual apparatus feed up to follow along with the Americans.  It’s really easy to switch between feeds, so you can make sure to watch everything you want to see.  And if you can’t catch it right at 10:30, the men’s competition went until after 1pm yesterday.  The women have fewer events, but you should still have time to jump in and catch the end around lunch time.

Either way, don’t let NBC’s coverage destroy the joy of the Olympics.  There’s still good stuff to see and hey, if the commentators bug you, that’s what the mute button is for  :)

*Photo Credit: The Telegraph

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