For all of you Americans who insist that you watched the Olympics because of the athleticism, I’d like to know whether NBC’s coverage left you with goosebumps? How many times did you root out loud, along with the announcers, for the American athlete to win? How many times did you weep while listening to the United States National Anthem? How many times did you think it perfectly normal for the announcers to obsess over the 18th place American, while glossing over the best athletes in a sport?
You insist that this is not about jingoism, not about nationalism, but only about sport? Then how many times over the next 3 1/2 years are you going to watch a game of water-polo or tune into a synchronized diving match? Never? Because you really don’t actually give a shit about the sport? Then are you SURE that you were watching the Olympics because of the athleticism?
Did you hang on till the end of the broadcast day for the “medal count?” Did you say “Yeah!” when the U.S. had a couple more gold medals than the Chinese? Did you feel that YOU accomplished something by watching athletes who don’t know you receive awards? Did it ever occur to you that these medal tallies are raw numbers, and that maybe it would be more relevant to athleticism to show medals per one-million population? Or how about medals per college graduate? Or medals per installed solar panel? How would the U.S. do in such a case?
It’s all good fun until you realize that the best part of the broadcast would actually be experienced by turning off the sound, ignoring the color of the uniforms and reminding yourself that the coverage is wildly skewed toward the coverage of Americans–in short, realizing that NBC has been satisfying your nationalistic craving by skewing it’s coverage. It’s no longer athleticism when the athletes wrap themselves in their own countries’ flags and strut around with a victory lap.
Then it becomes clearer that this Olympic broadcast was not designed to cover athletes. It was designed to cover American athletes, and especially those who have a chance to medal. It’s not really about the athletes or athletics, or else you’d be seeking out these sports year round. It’s not about the athletes, but about the TV viewer, and 20 minutes of commercials per hour, and flag waving and “We’re better than you. And even obese Americans that are sitting couches are thinking that they are better than people from other countries sitting on their couches.