A review of the Olympics
By Jack McDermott
As you may know … I have been spending a lot of time in other cities with nothing to do but watch the Olympics in my hotel room. And the thing I keep saying to myself is: “I waited four years for this?!?!?”
FAME & GLORY So far the most famous name to come out of the Olympics isn’t Marion Jones, Michael Johnson, or Ian Thorpe — it’s Nandrolone — a name that has crossed all international boundaries. The drug-doping is becoming so ridiculous that I am wondering if I can auction off a clean sample of my bodily fluid on E-Bay to make some extra money. Jack McDermott may never make it to the Olympics — but his urine might!
DRUGS The irony is … the only one to be stripped of a gold medal so far … Andreea Raducan the 16-year old from Romania … was doping with Psuedoephedrine because she had a head cold. (And to finally end the controversy … I would like to relinquish my 35th place finish in the Humanatee 5K for taking Sudafed … which also has psuedoephedrine … I am so ashamed.)
SPORTSMANSHIP And the Olympics are about … let’s see … Sportsmanship? Anyone who is even remotely famous finds it beneath them to actually live in the Olympic village. Maurice Green has been seen driving around Sydney with a yellow Ferrari, Michael Johnson was running with 24-Karat Gold woven into his track shoes, and a moment reminiscent of the recent 49ers-Cowboys game, James Carter, (the 400 meter hurdler not the President), a man who was declared academically ineligible to compete for Hampton College this year, was seen taunting other athletes during the end of the 400 meter hurdle semifinal. All of this just wants to make me chant: “U.S.A., U.S.A., U.S.A.”
NBC COVERAGE But the real bomb of this Olympic season has to be NBC’s pitiful coverage. With a 16-hour tape delay you may think this would provide adequate time to write good copy, but alas, the odds of that are about as good as the United States’ Handball Team has of winning gold. Growing up as a kid, I seem to remember the Olympics being more of an athletic competition, and less group therapy. Let’s take the women’s gymnastics team finals for example. When a girl scores a 9.7 on the balance beam the NBC announcers barely notice, but when one falls on her face in the vault and gets weepy — in two seconds the crack NBC news crew is there for a nice sloppy close-up. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve seen that many girls cry since the BackStreet Boys concert in Atlanta got canceled. Now let’s turn to horseback riding. I swear … the NBC dub-over went something like this: “But on this day, Karen O’Conner and her companion Prince Panash were two hearts beating as one. As they rounded the corner, Panash looked more like Pegasus.” Panash, of course, was the horse. And I, of course, wanted to vomit. This type of drivel is what I would expect to see in a gooey romance novel, not the Olympic Equestrian Coverage! The swimming coverage was probably the best so far, because, heaven forbid, they actually showed some athletic competition. Yet NBC seems too caught up in extraneous facts that have nothing to do with the event. For example, Ian Thorpe apparently has size 17 feet. Interesting … I’ll admit. However, they keep mentioning it so many times that I’m beginning to wonder if a certain NBC announcer has some strange foot fetish.
SPECIAL INTEREST STORIES Yes … NBC has showed tons of special interest stories. On occasion they even put them to music to make some pretty awful music videos. However, one particular item struck my interest. Apparently there is a man-made hill that overlooks the Olympic village. They said some “real” fans go to the hill and try to look into the village to see the athletes. They had the camera pan across the area and you see a bunch of old guys with binoculars. I remember thinking to myself … are these real fans or just voyeurs looking for a cheap thrill? It really made me wonder. If I were a guy up there … I would sure hope my wife didn’t see me with those binoculars!
MTV — THE OTHER NETWORK NBC’s canned coverage is so bad, it makes me wonder, what would happen if MTV won the bid and broadcast the 2004 Olympic games? With all this bad writing, maybe reality TV is not so bad after all. We could have MTV Real World — Olympic Village. The show would have an apartment rigged with cameras for 24/7 access and feature athletes from all over the world that would be broadcast live on the Internet. We could celebrate diversity by watching athletes from different cultures and backgrounds having awkward romantic interludes and roommate squabbles. (Episode 1: Athlete from Hungary: “I want to know who put my shot-put in the washing machine … and I want to know now!!!!!!).
COMMERCIALS Geez … this really isn’t the SuperBowl is it? Some of the commercials have been so bad. Have you listened to the lyrics to the PowerBar commercial: “For four years you’ve put your life on hold, now it’s time to go for the gold.” The good thing is .. no one will think the Beatles reunited for that tune. Honestly … it sounds like someone composed this in a bathroom stall the week before the Olympics. And a commercial that can only be described as “bewildering” has to be the Nike commercial where Lance Armstrong gives mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to a circus elephant. I’m beginning to think there is some bizarre Republican symbolism that I’m missing here. Is Lance Armstrong breathing life into the flagging Bush campaign? Or is the Bush-Cheney team doing something with subliminal advertising (moving from rats to elephants). I don’t know … but I’m beginning to feel like that guy in the commercial: “I’m the human cannonball, not a doctor.” — I’m totally lost.
SALT LAKE CITY Maybe the problem is that the Olympics are in Australia. I think they should always have the Olympics in the United States (Eastern Time Zone preferably) … it makes for such better coverage. Thank goodness we were smart enough to bribe all the members of the Olympic Selection Committee so we can at least have the Winter Olympics in the United States in 2002. Not only that, but offering free tuition to all the Olympic officials’ children will finally allow the University of Utah to achieve its diversity goals in college admissions. I can’t wait for the Slalom!
WRAP-UP Well …. true … the Olympics have had their moments. Like when Laura Wilkinson won the 10-meter diving contest. (I’ve been calling directory assistance in Houston to try to get her phone number. She’s cute … and I heard she’s single!). However, generally these Olympics have been a dud. I have seen more interesting competition, less drug-doping, and better coverage during episodes of “Battle of the Network Stars”. I yearn for the days when Team Brady Bunch took on Team Partridge Family. No one accused Marsha Brady of blood-doping, and David Cassidy didn’t taunt the other athletes.
I know some of you may be annoyed by these observations …. but think …. the Olympics come only once every 4 years … Of course … watch out for the Goodwill games …