Is the London Olympic TV coverage too parochial?
Opening ceremony - London Olympics 2012.
The TV coverage needs to be broader based
After a spectacular opening ceremony (with Her Majesty and Her Most Valuable Secret Service Agent 007 making a dramatic entry into the stadium), the London Olympics 2012 are well underway, with athletes from over 200 countries competing in 26 different sports for medals in 302 events. The TV coverage is expectedly in overdrive, with a very large viewer audience. The US continues to haul in the biggest collection of medals and the TV channels provide plenty of coverage and focus on our competitors that do our country proud by winning in so many events. And modern technology provides viewers with plenty of replays and reviews to appreciate the excellence with which the athletes achieve their victories.
While it is quite natural for the TV broadcasters (mainly NBC in this case) to focus on events where our athletes are competing, and on those events that are popular with the home crowds, I wonder whether some small portion of the broadcasting time could be used to provide a brief roundup of the other events that are being held. It is true that sports like Gymnastics, swimming, volleyball, beach volleyball, and track events are very popular and need more air time. But consider the time that the camera is focused on gymnasts while they await their scores. Considering that the prime time broadcasts are recorded and edited, there is so much that could be left out without compromising the quality and importance of the contents, while those few minutes could be used to show snippets of other events that are being held, and which some viewers may be interested in. Of course we do like to know how some of our athletes have taken the long journey to reach this level of competition, some of them in the face of many adversities, but maybe NBC could show us briefly how athletes from other countries have trodden their paths, many of whom would have faced hurdles that many Americans cannot even imagine. So many countries are struggling to bring their athletes' performances to international standards. Apart from athletes from some poor countries, one would have liked to see perhaps how the woman athlete from Saudi Arabia went about in her venture in the Judo competition in the face of clothing restrictions. Watching events like archery, rifle shooting and team events like field hockey and soccer would have been nice. (Of course I was not watching all the time and maybe I missed some of these events if they were broadcast). But did they need to cover so much of beach volleyball – I always wonder whether this sport is so widely watched because of the quality of the sport, or because the women competitors are in bikinis – and even volleyball? I have been a great fan of Michael Phelps and am astounded by his magnificent performances. The broadcaster did a great job of covering his life story and interviewing his family members. But again, so much time was spent on showing his mother’s (and sisters’) reactions as he completed each event (including qualifying rounds), that perhaps some of that time could have been spent on other events.
While I fully support the view that our broadcasts should focus on our athletes and on the sports that interest us the most, I feel that too much time is spent on immaterial activities, and some of that time could be spent on showing us what is happening at some of the other events and snippets on some of the competitors from other countries.