Vail Daily columnist Richard Carnes: Agony and ecstasy of Olympics fever
Oh NBC, thank you so very little.
It was a bit past 2 p.m. Friday afternoon, and I watched the 2012 Olympics opening ceremonies live.
“Live” is, of course, a subjective term, as NBC did their very best to ensure no American within her borders could legally watch the event in real time without threat of Homeland Security swooping in and disabling web access faster than Michael Phelps can be treated as a has-been.
Shouldn’t they be busy making sure no government employees are eating at Chick-Fil-A or that Romney cease and desist from spreading his hoof-in-mouth disease around Europe?
It’s all eerily reminiscent of NBC’s insulting “primetime” coverage during the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver when Americans were not “allowed” to follow Vonn, Schleper, White, Del Bosco, Ohno and the rest of the gang “live” on the internets (it’s a series of tubes!) as they showed their American pride and talent to the world.
As I asked back then, what in the wide, wide world of sports hell is NBC smoking?
I ended up reading a live blog instead, with the occasional still photo attached to twist the visual knife.
But to be honest, after watching it that night on tape delay, I really didn’t miss much. I suppose it’s not fair to continually compare it to Beijing in 2008, but Beijing in 2008 was sooooo much better. When the best part of the evening was the antics of Mr. Bean on a keyboard, you know you’re in trouble.
Yes, James Bond and the queen did their best to start things off with a bang, but the English history lesson down on the field became an embarrassing long and convoluted mess of thousands running in different directions hauling sheets of sod while Kenneth Branagh did what appeared to be (in the beginning, at least) a beard-free impersonation of Abe Lincoln.
OK, so it was from Shakespeare’s Tempest, but a few billion people were not clued in for a while.
With two DVRs and multiple PCs with cable connections, my household has not missed a single event, not even ping pong, nor have we been subjected to a single Obama-Romney attack ad, thanks to Mr. Fast Forward. So I must admit I am, at least for the next two weeks, an Olympic fanatic.
I spend the day switching between the channel that starts each morning at 2 a.m., then the NBC East Coast feed, then MSNBC, then online for specific events, and then back to the daylong feed that began at 2 a.m., all in hopes of catching at least a smidgen of all 529 American athletes at some point.
Call me anal, but don’t call me absent to cheer for American athletes.
For most events, I don’t really care who wins as long as the winner is American, but I did find myself somewhat bummed when Phelps failed to make the podium in the first swimming finals. Since Lochte took the gold, now I am going to root for Phelps the next few races. Win or lose, he’s still the best the world has ever witnessed.
I also can’t help but feel like China is the new Russia, especially for the summer games, and fully expect them to become progressively more challenging for the winter games. Political, I know, but whoever says these games aren’t about politics, profits and prestige is not really paying attention.
Either way, my heart races every time I hear the Olympic theme song and during the final few seconds of every speed event. I get choked up at the end of bike race and when a gymnast finishes a great routine.
No thanks to NBC, it’s just how I roll.
Richard Carnes of Edwards writes weekly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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