Blog Trouble in 'Lympic China

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The 2008 Rockwood Olympic Watch Wrapup

Okay, now that I've had a few days to catch up on some sleep (watching the Olympics isn't easy!), I can get down to the important matters like determining if NBC is getting better with their broadcasts. And by "better" of course, I mean "less fluffy."

Surprisingly, the answer is yes. NBC is, in fact, getting better with age. Now, this year's time totals are not complete since I didn't time August 9th through August 11th. However, the highest fluff days don't usually come at the beginning the Games, so I feel confident that the ratio of events to fluff is pretty accurate. Given that, here are the breakdowns by percentage of all of the Rockwood Olympic Watches...

  Events Ads Fluff
2000 Sydney 62.7% 24.4% 12.9%
2002 Salt Lake I attended the Salt Lake Games, thus I didn't keep time for them.
2004 Athens 68.1% 23.5% 8.3%
2006 Turin 65.0% 27.0% 8.0%
2008 Beijing 70.8% 22.1% 7.1%

Behold the power of the Olympic Watch! I like to think that Dick Ebersol quakes in fear now that the public knows exactly how much fluff NBC puts on the air. But now there's less reason for him to quake, as there's less fluff on the air. Since Sydney, there's been a 13 percent increase in events and a 45 percent decrease in fluff. That's pretty impressive.

Still, nearly four-and-a-half hours --an entire night's worth of coverage-- was devoted to fluff. There's still room for improvement!

The 2008 Rockwood Olympic Watch Medal Ceremony

The judges have tabulated their scores (yes, it took a week... there was lots of tabulating to do... lots), and here are the results this year, good news first:

Good Bronze Medal. Live events featuring Michael Phelps. This is where Dick Ebersol earned his money as executive producer. Ebersol got the Olympic Committee to move the swimming events to the morning in Beijing so that they could be on in prime time in America. Imagine how much less of an impact all eight of Michael's medals would have had on you if you would have known the results 12 hours before any given broadcast. Ebersol gambled on this one and won BIG.

Good Silver Medal. China. The Opening Ceremonies? Spectacular. The scenery? Spectacular. The venues? Spectacular. Yeah, yeah... they spent $40 billion so OF COURSE it's spectacular, but still, it was a spectacle to be seen.

Good Gold Medal. U.S.A. athletes singing on the medal stand. Call me a sucker, but I love seeing happy people singing on the medal stand after they've won the gold. At the Olympics, unlike normal sporting events held in the U.S., the only time ANY national anthem gets played is when someone from that country wins a medal. This makes the national anthem actually mean something, and the people who sing along with The Star Spangled Banner clearly believe that. So, for swimmer Natalie Coughlin, the Women's Eight rowing team, discus thrower Stephanie Brown Trafton, and the Men's Volleyball team, coaches, and fans, we salute you with this gold medal.

But not everything came up rosy in China.

Bad Bronze Medal. NBC's decathlon coverage. Bruce Jenner. Heard of him? He won the decathlon for the United States 32 years ago. Yeah, yeah... now he's famous because of the Kardashians, but a 32-year legacy is still the impact of the "world's greatest athlete." This year, American Bryan Clay, who from NBC's fluff seems like not only a great athlete but also a great person, won the gold medal and got less than ten minutes of coverage for his events. Four-and-a-half hours of fluff in the Olympics, and we couldn't have squeezed out more than ten minutes for the world's greatest athlete who happens to be an American? That's just sad.

Bad Silver Medal. Mary Carillo and Cris Collinsworth. They're not nearly as awful as Jimmy Roberts, but their fluff was just so borrrrring! Mary talked about a list of predictable Chinese things (kites, accupuncture, pandas) and Cris's interviews were so bent on non-confrontation that they didn't bring out any interesting stories. Need more convincing? For pure entertainment value, imagine how much better any given Mary or Cris interview would have been if it had instead been conducted by Conan O' Brien. See that? Even imagining that interview is more entertaining that anything Mary or Cris did. Of course, Triumph the Insult Comic Dog would have never made it over there because of our gold medal winner...

Bad Gold Medal. China. Those spectacular Opening Ceremonies? Fake singers and fake fireworks. The gymnasts? Underaged. The venues? Tainted by government-supported mass murder. NBC is complicit here for playing along. Honestly, if Tiananmen Square had hosted the Woodstock music festival instead of a bloody massacre, don't you think NBC would have mentioned that? Instead, when both the men's and women's marathons ran past the square twice each, the incident was never mentioned. No, I wasn't expecting NBC to take the Chinese down, but a simple, "Tiananmen Square, site of the 1989 massacre" would have been a fitting statement. Add to that the spectre of the Chicom government putting old ladies in labor camps, packing the seats so the arenas didn't look empty, and banning Joey Cheek from the country just because he has political ideals the Chinese don't like, and you're left with not only a bad taste in your mouth, but also an uncomfortable feeling of, "if that's what I DO know, what are they NOT telling me." It makes the concept of the 2014 Sochi Olympics in Russia all the more uncomfortable.

And that's it! One more Olympics under my belt. Thanks to all of you, who keep coming back and watching me do something crazy like this. It's a lot of work, but also a lot of fun. Will I do another one? 2010 in Vancouver is just 18 months away, and who knows? Maybe I'll actually go to those, since they're on the North American continent. We'll just have to see what happens a couple of years from now. Until then, you'll have to make your own fluff.

See you in 2010 in Vancouver!

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