NBC has a lot to be ashamed of; its coverage of the Olympics is abysmal. Even though it’s not qualitatively that different from Olympics past, somehow watching these games has felt more like watching a Nancy McKeon/Meredith Baxter Birney made for television movie than, oh, the grandest athletic event of the year. But they’re not the only ones at fault. (Some people even applaud NBC for how they handled, in particular, last night’s coverage of the short program.)
This morning’s New York Times coverage of last night’s short program, in which Canada’s Joannie Rochette placed third only two days after her mother’s sudden death, gives that Righteous Tool Cris Collinsworth a run for his money. Don’t get me wrong: it’s beyond sad that her mother died so suddenly at such a young age (she was only 55). I’m not denying Rochette’s tremendous loss. What galls is the media’s seeming inability (or unwillingness) to focus on anything other than what it perceives to be the personal tragedy and heartbreak of the Olympic athletes that, in the end, has nothing to do with the competition. I’m sorry Dan Jansen’s sister died of cancer on the day of his race during the 1988 Calgary games, that Kevin Pearce has a Down Syndrome brother (not to mention just woke up from a coma) or that, now, Joannie Rochette’s mother died unexpectedly upon arrival in Vancouver.
But in the end, watching the Olympics, I don’t care.
Where skating is concerned I’m interested in how well you have prepared, how you perform — the jumps, spins, footwork, and everything in between, as Evan Lysacek so sexily put it — and, let’s face it, what you’re wearing!
While the Times is not as guilty as NBC for it’s hyper-saccharine coverage (though at this point that would be nearly impossible), it did inject this morning’s article with this eye-popping bit of psycho-mumble:
“In the kiss-and-cry area, she [Rochette] seemed to say something in French to her mother, perhaps, `This is for you’ or `Thanks for being there for me,’ but no one was certain of her words.”
No one was certain of her words, so we just made up something that we thought sounded good. There is a term for this. It’s called fiction. If that’s their game, I would rather have seen them print that it appeared Rochette said “I didn’t think Bob Costas could look like any more of a douche until I saw his segment broadcast from the water plane in which he referred to his colleague Al Trautwig as Alfalfa.” But no one was certain of her words.
I can only hope that C-SPAN bids for the 2014 Sochi Games. Otherwise I may not be able to tune in.