Olympic Coverage

Just over a week into the Olympics and I'm finding it hard to watch for very long. We get all the channels that NBC is using to broadcast the games... still, there seems to be a lack of in-depth coverage.

First, the coverage is too US-centric. I know that's to be expected to some degree given NBC's audience, but I'd bet that there are some great background stories to be found in non-US delegations as well.

The commentating is really hit-or-miss. With diving, gymnastics, or other "judged" events, I can barely stand to watch it. You have a pair of people, one of whom is the "regular" broadcaster with the booming voice and the other is some ex-contestant (usually whiney-sounding) who's supposed to give us insight. Instead of insight, though, they're nit-picking the performances. Take diving as an example... I'd like the "expert" to tell me about the dive, the things to watch for, how the athlete may have prepared, how its
difficulty stacks up to other dives, and so on. Instead, each dive is dissected to the Nth degree - "Oh, Bob, that'll really cost her there. Between the slight twist [requiring .01 slo-mo replay to see] and the knees not being together [by an inch or so, which the judges seated at the side can't see anyway], the judges just can't give her a good score. There's simply no way she can make it to the next round. Her dream is over!" The best part is when the "expert" is horribly wrong and the judges see it differently.

In gymnastics, you could go back and watch the individual competitions, both won by US athletes with some big mistakes early in the competition, as an example -- the "experts" wrote them off as non-contenders and they're now wearing gold.

Not enough coverage of "smaller" sports -- last weekend, I happened to catch a couple minutes of highlights from a 10m shooting match. It was great... the commentating was informative, not critical, and I was fascinated by it. I learned a lot about a sport I know nothing of. Unfortunately, there was a US athlete somewhere with a camera pointed at them, so NBC had to cut away.

Medal counts? Who cares?

I want to see competition, regardless of who's in the event. And sure, I'll root for US athletes much of the time, but I just want to see great performances from athletes I wouldn't normally get to see. And yes, I'd rather sit and watch the Iraqi mens soccer team than the US men's basketball team. I can watch overpaid, whining primadonnas all through the NBA season. How often can I watch a group of athletes who practice on dirt fields, can't play "home" games in their own country, and have to be airlifted by military planes out of their country. That's a group I can root for.