Friday, August 27, 2004
NBC recovers, Paul-Hamm-like, from their fluffy
stumble last night. With only two days to go, can they get the gold?
- We open tonight with Team Synchronized Swimming.
To answer your first question, no, I'm not going to count all of this
as fluff. Like it or not, synchronized swimming is an event. Furthermore,
the first thing the announcers told us is that it was being contested
in front of a sold-out crowd of 5,000 people. Imagine that. The Greeks
can't sell out the gymnastics venue, but they can sell out synchronized
swimming. These Olympics are wacky!
- Remember how the other day I told you that I
record each night's broadcast so I can time things out correctly? Well,
it's a good thing I do, because synchronized swimming put me right
to sleep. Yes, I went back and watched it. Yes, the women are very
impressive swimmers. Yes, I think they're athletes. Do I think synchronized
swimming is a sport? Well, why don't I defer to the judgment of the
International Gymnastics Federation on that one. They don't seem to
have any problems making decisions. Ha ha ha ha ha!
- Okay, seven more minutes on Paul Hamm, but I'm
not counting it as all fluff. Some of it is because, really, do we
have to find out how Paul feels about the whole thing? Don't you think
that's pretty obvious?
However, the first part of this segment is treated as straight news.
The International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) wants Hamm to voluntarily
give his gold medal to the Korean who contested Hamm's victory. The
U.S. Olympic Committee, essentially, told FIG to take a long walk off
a short balance beam. Tim Daggett and Bob Costas debated the controversy.
Look, I think the Korean kind of got screwed by this whole deal, but
you know, he had his chance to fix it and he blew it. Had he protested
within the specified time, FIG could have fixed his score (however,
it could have also demoted him, given the deductions that were missed,
as pointed out by Tim Daggett). But he didn't, so too bad, so sad,
Now, if you REALLY want to get into who the jerks are in this story,
you need go no further than FIG itself. FIG is upset because the Koreans
are mad at them. If FIG really thinks that Hamm doesn't deserve the
medal, then they should take it away from him. But they don't want
to do that because then the Americans would be mad at them. Instead
of being an enforcing authority like they're supposed to be, FIG is
trying to get someone to VOLUNTEER to lose. Olympians train for over
a decade for three days of competition, and you expect them to give
up the medal once it's around their neck? Right. You go, Paul.
- Heather Cox reports from the sidelines of the
U.S.-Brazil volleyball game about the souvenir whistles that everyone
is bringing to the events. Apparently, someone blowing a whistle in
the crowd distracted the Greek team during a critical point in their
match with the United States the other day. Best of all, she had accompanying
video where you could hear the crowd-based whistle. Yep. Looks like
Greece got burned.
- Over to the track, where the Women's Long
Jump has a virtual First-And-Ten
how far the leader has jumped. Why didn't NBC have this for the Men's
Long Jump last night? Oh well, at least it's here now.
- Five more minutes with Jimmy Roberts and "Chevrolet
Olympic Moments." Today, Jimmy tries to justify, justify, justify
his fluff. No go, Jimmy. The main stories involved a young, female
Pakistani swimmer, a gymnast from Uzbekistan, and an Argentinean basketball
player. All, of course, have overcome Olympian-class hardships to be
here. The notable thing here is Jimmy tries to explain away his syrupy
prose. I quote:
Sometimes we in the media get criticized for exploiting stories like
those of Hermann and Chusovitina, but the fact, perhaps obvious, remains.
These are stories which teach us so much more about people than how
many points they score, Bob, or how fast their times are."
Oh really? So Jimmy has been slathering us with saccharine so that we'd learn
about these people? Well, for the benefit of those of you who didn't see "Chevrolet
Olympic Moments" tonight, allow me to use my sub-Jimmy Roberts writing skills
to recap their stories, although in a slightly different manner.
1. Swimming in lane eight is Rubab
Raza of Pakistan, who at 13 years old is the
youngest Olympian in Athens. She's also the first female swimmer ever for Pakistan,
where many still don't approve of a woman in such immodest dress.
2. Up next on the vault is Oksana
Chusovitina. Oksana represented Uzbekistan
in 2000, just 10 months after giving birth to her son, Alisher. That son, now
five years old, has leukemia, so Oksana continues to compete for Uzbekistan at
age 29 because being a gymnast is the only job where she can earn enough money
to pay for her son's treatments.
3. Now on the foul line for Argentina, Walter Hermann. One year ago this July,
Walter's mother, sister, and fiance were all killed in a head-on collision. As
tragic as that was, exactly one year later, after scoring 38 points to lead Argentina's
basketball team to the South American championship, he learned that his father
had died of a heart attack.
This is about 90 percent of all the information contained in Jimmy's segment.
Notice how all of these paragraphs--which, when spoken, take about 15 to 20 seconds
a piece--could fit easily into the broadcast of an event. In fact, since these
three factoids combined only take one minute to say and Jimmy Roberts steals
at least four minutes every night, you could actually argue that Jimmy Roberts'
insipid fluff pieces are preventing us from learning about more people! You know,
Jimmy, more little introductions like these would teach me so much more about
people than your bloated fluff.
- I sure spent a lot of time on that Jimmy Roberts'
piece, didn't I? Well, there's a reason for that. I write most about
fluff, and for the last 2 hours and 37 minutes of NBC's broadcast on
Friday night, there were only two minutes of fluff. Wow. I mean, wow.
Great job, NBC!
- For that matter, even the fluff wasn't that bad.
One minute was dedicated to a little graphical primer on how the pole
vault competition works. If you protested this one to the FIG judge,
I might even be persuaded that an explanation of the rules should be
counted as "event" instead of "fluff." Of course,
then I'd have to change that graphic on the top of this page, and that
would just be more work for me. Tell you what, I'll just let this minute
- Speaking of the pole vault, the eventual silver
medalist is American Toby "Crash" Stevenson, so nicknamed
because he's the only competitor that wears a crash helmet when he
vaults. How can you not root for a guy with the nickname "Crash?"
- The other minute of fluff belongs to 110-meter
hurdler Terrence Trammell of the United States. He's a football player
turned hurdler, and uses a football mentality when running his races.
What does that mean? I didn't see him tackle anyone.
- Shawn Crawford ended up running one of four legs
in the Men's 4x100 Relay for the U.S. because another runner had to
drop out after testing positive for marijuana. Can we call that the "Ricky
Williams football mentality?"
- Bob promises us "nearly 40 minutes" of
uninterrupted events and delivers 39 minutes. You know, these Olympics
- Finally, a basketball recap. The U.S. "Nightmare
Team" lost in the semifinals today to Argentina, thus insuring
that the best medal the American's can receive is bronze. I think NBC
should have leaned on the NBA a little to send it's top tier players.
Given their shoddy play, why would I want to watch the NBA on NBC?
I'd rather watch the Argentinean Basketball Association. At least they're
Actually, I'll close today with the comments of one Argentinean basketball
player, who conceded that on an individual basis, the U.S. had the
best players. Said the winner of the "superior" Americans, "They're
better individual players, but it's a team sport. It's not one-on-one.
It's not tennis."
You know, after my little nap and Jimmy Roberts'
piece, I got to watch two-and-a-half hours of Olympics. I barely even
took any notes. During the Sydney games, sometimes the Olympic
Watch got to be a chore, just because I was forcing myself
to sit through all of the fluff pieces. This year, it's almost pure joy.
Just two days to
go, and with NBC declaring that tomorrow has even more events, I'm really
looking forward to watching. Imagine that. Looking forward to watching
the Olympics! Finally, Dick Ebersol got it right!
2004 Brian Lundmark, all images and text on this page.
All rights reserved. Tell
me about it!