Saturday, August 06, 2016

Let the games begin! (Yawn)

I’ll be interested to see whether I end up caring about these Olympics. So far I absolutely couldn’t give a shit.

And I usually love the Olympics.

But this year, I dunno. The fact that it’s in Rio where the water is polluted and the air is worse puts a little crimp in my enthusiasm. You don’t want to hear the words “fecal matter” used in a description of Olympic swimming venues.

And surrounding the games, just out of camera view are slums and squalor, and we’re supposed to ignore all that to watch people twirl ribbons. Might the billions of dollars spent to stage these games be put to better use feeding the population?

Oh, and Brazil has an interim president because the real one is being impeached.

Then you have the Russian doping scandal. (I wonder if Donald Trump is rooting for the Russians?) And speaking of Trump, our upcoming election has been such a circus and the stakes are so high that any Olympic competition seems insignificant in comparison.

But maybe I’ll change my mind as the games unfold. Maybe an athlete or story will come along that captures my imagination. Maybe I’ll get sucked in. I used to love ladies gymnastics, highlighted by being at Pauley Pavilion the night Mary Lou Retton won all her gold medals. But they’re all teen girls and I now feel like Buck Henry as the babysitter in the old SNL sketches. Ugh!

I didn’t watch last night’s opening ceremony. Those always come off like extended Orange Bowl halftime shows. And now that I think about it, my only real interest in the last Olympic games was whether Bob Costas’ eye problem was going to clear up.

So time will tell. Hopefully the games will be thrilling and fulfilling and half the U.S. team doesn’t get wiped out by dysentery. At the moment, may your players shine (whichever country you’re from). As long as Donald Trump loses in November I’m happy with anybody winning.

UPDATE: The U.S. ratings for the opening ceremony were the worst in 20 years.  Maybe I'm not alone.  

What about you?  Are you excited about the Olympics?  And if so, where are you from? 

57 comments:

DyHrdMET said...

with your sense of humor, I think the #FakeOlympicEvents hashtag on twitter would be something that's right up your alley.

Mike Barer said...

I know what you mean.

Stephen Marks said...

I'd rather watch Rio Bravo. I'll tune in to watch Oscar Pistorius win gold in the men's final of the Shooting the Girl From Ipanema Behind The Bathroom Door event, but to be honest if there isn't ice involved Canada will suck at it. Just like Ken said, the opening ceremonies are a bloated Orange Bowl half time show without that Jackson chick's left boob.

Mitchell Hundred said...

The Brazilian President who has been impeached is a woman, just FYI. The first woman to hold that office.

Mike McCann said...

Hate to be a "Debbie Downer," but I lost all passion for the Olympics after the Munich Games Massacre in 1972 -- and the IOC's underwhelming response to it, both then and since.

Wendy M. Grossman said...

I've never liked the nationalism associated with the Olympics, and then in the early 1990s I read Andrew Jennings' book The Lords of the Rings, which talked about the endemic corruption surrounding the Games and the host city bidding process. That killed most of the rest of my taste for it. And the small amount that was left was killed off when the luger died during a practice run at the 2010 Winter Games by hitting a pole that in my mind unquestionably should have been protected. I know the Olympics mean a huge amount to athletes, but I just can't stand the crap around them.

I didn't go to a single thing when the Games were in London.

wg

Unknown said...

actually, the "real guy" you refer to as having been impeached is a woman.

Unknown said...

actually, the "real guy" you refer to as having been impeached is a woman.

Julian Brown said...

Hi Ken,

Canadian from Ontario here.

I'm following the Canadian Women's Soccer Team. Have been for the better part of a decade. They got robbed last Olympics by a terrible call, didn't make the gold medal game as a result, but won bronze in the end. They beat Australia in their 1st game despite being down a player for most of the game because of the earliest red card [expulsion] in OG history. They also scored the quickest goal in OG history [00:21 s]. You can see why I'm pumped, they tend to be exciting and controversial.

I'll try to watch the Williams sisters, because their impending retirements feel historical in a similar way to Obama's term being over.

Love the blog,
Julian

Mr. Hollywood said...

I'm right with you on interest in these Olympics. Every point you make I second. Yes, from a technical standpoint you will be watching state of the art images ... but it really means nothing to me. And maybe in the future they will choose a location that isn't filthy and corrupt and broke!

blinky said...

I remember a time when I hated the Olympics because they preempted all the good shows on NBC. So that is not happening now. What I hate now is the jingoistic coverage that must include at least one American in anything they cover for more than 30 seconds.
I would enjoy a nice viewing of Ping Pong or Badminton but I doubt it will happen.

Funk The News said...

Raw sewage, the Zika virus, rampant crime — the Rio Olympics should be interesting:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xjsDti9uNnY

blinky said...

And then there is this: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/08/06/gymnastics-hidden-abuse-crisis.html?via=newsletter&source=DDMorning

Jeff Maxwell said...

Not sure why, but I recorded the opening and watched it this morning. Whatever small curiosity I had about how they would "celebrate" zika, fecal and poverty was ruined by the fact there were more commercials than ceremony. Fast forward saved me.

My hope is always that the event will make the world's population think about dedication, accomplishment, passion and humanity instead of guns and violence. Maybe it does for a minute.

Sorry, don't care if Pehlps wins another 48 medals, butt women's volleyball continues to engage me.

Alan Gollom said...

Is the bicycle race over yet? They pre-emoted Saturday morning cartoons for that? #watchingmygrassgrow

Anonymous said...

Would watch if I could just watch what I wanted, which pretty much means hockey in winter games, boxing and soccer in summer without interruption. Don't need human interest stories, don't need to cut away to women's towel folding, just gI've me the game/match. Don't care that his dad left when he was 2, just care that he has a 2000 lb left hook. Watched the dream team when they were there to prove a point, senD the college kids now, even if we lose. Point proven. If we send our best, no competition.

jcs said...

The IOC is a horrible organisation that sides with the powerful and the rich. After Juan Antonio Samaranch, who was involved in the Franco regime, finally left, there were high hopes. As it turns out current IOC president and former fencer Thomas Bach is not exactly interested in clean games. Instead of helping out whistleblower Yuliya Stepanova, the German IOC president sidelined her. There are many talented athletes who make very little money who have the opportunity to enter the spotlight every four years. The IOC should serve their interests. Instead there are shady backroom deals, cronyism and a severe lack of interest in the rule of law.

Stoney said...

I keep thinking back to 7 years ago when President Obama, Oprah Winfrey and others tried to get the I.O.C. to award these Olympics to Chicago. Well now!

Here in upstate New York, sportswise, I think there's more interest in this weekend's NASCAR races at Watkins Glen.

I will try to watch men's basketball because Jim Boeheim is an assistant coach for Team USA. Also, there's Carmelo Anthony who led Boeheim's Syracuse Orange to the NCAA title in 2003.

VP81955 said...

Can someone please explain to me why women are so enamored of traditionally "feminine" sports (gymnastics, figure skating) at the Olympics, but don't give a damn about women playing basketball or volleyball? (Soccer appears to have escaped this.) Are gender roles really that polarized?

Roger Owen Green said...

I like seeing the alphabetical list of countries in Portuguese. But I think my interest is diminished, though I'm sure I'll follow swimming a bit, basketball, soccer and tennis. I record a LOT, so I can fast forward through the jumps to other events and the "human interest."

Ron Rettig said...

What about NBC commentator, I think it was Meredith Vieira's, crass comment during the Olympic Parade of Nation making fun of the nation of Djibouti's name? Real class on an international event NBC! General Sarnoff would have hit the roof, even Bob Kintner would have sent firing notice.

Buttermilk Sky said...

There's an interesting doc on PBS detailing how most of the hyperbolic stuff we now associate with the Olympics -- the giant stadium, the torch relay from Greece, the geopolitical rivalry -- originated with the Berlin games of 1936. They were even "televised," to viewing venues around the city. Although the Nazis' plan to showcase the superiority of the "Aryan" race was derailed by Jesse Owens and Ralph Metcalf, the flag-waving chauvinism is still faintly creepy. I'm rooting for the Refugee team.

rchesson said...

NBC has sucked any life out of Olympic coverage. Heavy handed, jingoistic USA-at-every-turn coverage. I pine for the days when ABC did the coverage and we could watch an event and find that Walter Mitty type, regardless of nationality, to hold our interest (remember Eddie-The-Eagle from the Calgary games).

Sadly the turning point was the Barcelona games (NBC?) with the "Dream Team" US pro basketball players walking all over the amateurs. They should have just handed the US players their gold metals before they went through the motions. You would have thought it was the 1980 US Hockey Team beating Russia given the breathless coverage. Steadily downhill since.

Popular media culture (the lowest common denominator) along with big money (IOC) has ruined yet another fun, entertaining event from by formative years.

Dixon Steele said...

Not to mention HBO's Sports devastating take-down this week.

Completely turned off...apologies to the world's athletes who kill themselves to get there.

H Johnson said...

To answer your question, I'm with you about having a complete lack of interest in the Olympic Games.

I mean, what's to support? The Olympic committee "awards" the games to a small group of politicians who proceed to bankrupt their citizen's coffers while they do nothing to insure the integrity of the competitions.

Sound a lot the NFL if you ask me.

Besides, it's baseball season.

Aloha

Tammy said...

I love the Olympics. I usually watch gymnastics and whatever event Israelis have a shot in that year. We've only ever won seven medals, which is what the American team typically wins on the first day (but then the American team isn't made up of Jews). We also tend to excel in events no one cares about, like judo and sailing.

Anonymous said...

The Olympics in Rio is the perfect marriage of corruption and incompetence. I don't which is more corrupt, the IOC or Brazil, but that's why in ended up there. Lost interest in the Olympics when they allowed professionals to compete. This was done to counter the Russians and at the time, East Germans, who basically fielded professional teams in every thing. Now it's PEDs, and they still let the Russians in. Would rather watch the "Trump Follies". How any one could even think of voting for Trump is beyond belief. Sara Palin doesn't count.

Bryan Robinson said...

Hillary ....of Brazil

JBdd said...

I thought the opening ceremonies were breath-taking, in spite of Brazil spending half what London spent. This meeting, once every 4 years, of the best athletes from around the world is worth whatever money and effort is involved. I could give you my opinion about why that is so, but it's been said a thousand times in a thousand ways. You either get it or you don't or I should say you either reject it or you don't.

For every Brazilian who thinks it was not worth the money, I guarantee you there are a thousand who would say, "of course it is! This is living!"

Loosehead said...

Britain, and not interested, but then I was convinced the London Olympics was going to be a monumental disaster, and when it wasn't I got sucked in. Used to be the interest only started when the athletics started, or when Britain started winning "sitting down" events like rowing, canoeing and cycling. Now we have the ladies rugby on day 1, and what could be nicer than having Sir Clive Woodward, ex-England rugby coach, perving over the "marvellous athleticism" of the rather lithe ladies battering each other for 7 minutes each half.
Hey, about that Buck Henry comment. Weren't you the one who answered the door on Halloween holding your emmy, in case the local girls college were trick-or-treating?

Loosehead said...

Julian Brown, you should be watching the Canadian womens rugby team. They look pretty useful, after their first game.

Roger R. said...

Nothing against Bob Costas, but Jim McKay was the guy.
And the Olympics used to appear to be more of an event when, in the days prior to the internet, the world seemed a whole lot larger.

thirteen said...

I live in Maryland. Haven't cared about the Olympics in a long time, and haven't watched them this century. Part of that (but not all) is because of the sanitized coverage NBC has been delivering. I don't need sports edited and "put into context" as NBC said the other day, and I especially don't need the homer emphasis on coverage of U.S. teams and athletes to the exclusion of all others. I did read that, in 2012, NBC was routinely editing competitions so there would appear to be more doubt about the results, when in reality the scores weren't even close. This isn't sports; it's a carefully scripted circus. Thank God there's baseball.

It's ridiculous that yesterday's opening ceremonies were delayed an hour in the East and four hours in the West.

I'm going to use the next two weeks to finish binging Orphan Black. I'm also going to watch a few other series I haven't gotten around to sampling yet. I might even read a book or three.

Johnny Walker said...

I'm very much looking forward to watching the opening ceremony. I just haven't gotten around to it yet :-/

Tore W. said...

Couldn't care less about any sport. Literally. But I enjoyed this post!

MikeK.Pa. said...

Last week HBO Real Sports did a 90-minute piece on how the IOC only cares about the dollars and not the athletes. I know, not real news. Eye-opening, though, how Russia, China and now Brazil pushed the poor aside to do their build outs and build up their global images.

Otto said...

I think the last time I was interested in the Olympics was 1980? Don't care at all. It's an idea past it's expiration date. They were originally meant to promote good will among nations, right? Did that EVER really work out? And yes, all the squalor, disregard for human safety and health, etc. of this year's games only make my interest less than zero. As the Andrews Sisters once sang, "Money Is the Root of All Evil."

Earl Boebert said...

Ratings down 35% from London, lowest since Athens in 2004. Watched 15 minutes, 10 of which were commercials. Pathetic.

Carol said...

I have zero interest in the Olympics. The last time I vaguely cared was when they were in London in 2012, and that's only because I was there at the time. My husband went to see the tennis and my son and I spent the day at Brighton. The rest of the time we did regular tourist things and were fascinated by the many television crews from all over the world we saw on the tube.

Jake Mabe said...

No Jim McKay = no Olympics for me.

(I know he's dead. I still stand by my statement.)

Anonymous said...

Watched the opening ceremony via DVR, so can't comment on the commercial clutter. I thought it was done very well. Have the DVR set for tonights swimming. Will continue to DVR the few sports I'm interested. Hate to bite the hand that used to feed me.

YEKIMI said...

Not gonna watch [except for soccer and wrestling] unless the other events are more exciting. Oh, I don't know....maybe something like a Bris being performed on a pole vaulter right in the middle of his jump and it has to be finished before he makes it over the bar and no blood has been spilled.

Max Clarke said...

Not interested in any of the Olympics coverage.

Harry Shearer's perceptive Olympics updates have been a part of his program, Le Show, for at least a year and maybe two years. He was one of the few people in American media discussing the problems Rio was facing as they scrambled to host the games.

Barry Traylor said...

A big waste of money. All those Billions should have been used to better the lives of the citizens of Brazil.

Diane said...

WOW! What an incredible number of miserable cynics. Only one person (Dixon Steele) even mentioned the athletes who do indeed kill themselves getting there. They at least deserve some respect, and more than that---I'm stunned that so many people have no interest in seeing the best athletes in the world perform! I would just mention that most of you are in a business that spends millions and millions making just one movie or one TV series. The corruption and unfairness is rampant, but who among you would give it up? You obviously think it is worth it.......and you're right. But so are the Olympics! Do yourselves a favor and watch perfection, and dream that you will ever create the equivalent in your field (except for Ken Levine, who has done it!).

ChipO said...

All who moan about the generally horrific announcing (note my concurrence):
There may be hope. An app – NBC sports.
It allows watching with fewer interrupting commercials and less commentary, plus it offers (apparently) all “sports”, like rifle shooting, archery, etc. So – we should quit complaining about the NBC channel and just ignore them.
Good luck.
Downside to the app: It will show an event as “Live”, one clicks on the event, suffers through the intro commercial, then sees the screen say “Event Over”.

Bill said...

The Olympic television streams are broadcast ad free, it's the local country broadcast which destroys them. NBC is the worst. Watch using an app or a web. I am watching in Singapore on Toggle web site, continuous and uninterrupted, and am enjoying it. events are paced as per reality, not a constant highlight, the commentary is very low key. There are 5 channels 24 hrs a day, live all night, and repeats all day. Day 1 was great. World records in the pool, sculling in a great setting, Marta scoring twice in the women's soccer.

The opening ceremony was rather awesome too, especially liked the Olympic flame, simply lit small cauldron, then magnificent sculpture unfurled, you have to see it.

Olympics don't cure social problems, it's not a case of billions of dollars should have been spent on health, or education, or other welfare. That should happen anyway, the people are let down by govt irrespective of th Olympics being there. No, Olympics are a one off Infrastructure boost, a chance like no other to transform a city. It transformed backwater in London, it built bullet trains in Tokyo and Nagano . I remember going to Munich and seeing and swimming at great facilities long after and no terrible act could takeaway that legacy.

Give Rio its chance, there will be something to thrill you, and let Brazilians take the lesson, we can do this, build this for Sports, let's do this for us every year,

Barry Traylor said...


<<>>


What I have read is that many (if not all) the facilities that are build sit empty and rot with no benefit to anyone, unless of course they enjoy eyesores.

Earl Boebert said...

The print descriptions of the opening ceremony indicate that it had a political message that may not have been to the liking of the suits at Comcast.

Greg Ehrbar said...

Kind of surprised no one mentioned the All-Star Laff-a-Lympics. Just in case anyone had any money riding on the 24 total competitions, here are the complete event results:

The Scooby Doobies – 14 wins
The Yogi Yahooeys – 7 wins
The Really Rottens – 2 wins
One three-way tie

And that was with no doping!

I know I'm being scorchingly ironic here, but how far from we from it all becoming one big cartoon?

Andy Rose said...

When I hear people complain about the Olympics television broadcast, it reminds me of the Louis C.K. routine about people who complain that their airplane seat is a little too small when they're experiencing the miracle of flight like Greek gods.

They are broadcasting live from 36 venues on another continent. Every single moment of competition is televised (which wasn't the case until 1996). The production values for each category are literally the highest you'll see for any broadcast of that sport. You get a choice of multiple events on multiple channels (which wasn't the case until 1992, and that first year all the "extra" channels were pay-per-view). With the exception of NBC prime time and weekend, you actually see relatively few of the infamous human interest pieces that people rag on (but seem to bring in the eyeballs).

If you just don't like the games, fine. But a lot of these "Bob Costas ruins the whole Olympics for me" types of complaints just sound whiny.

suek2001 said...

I want to root for the USA in these games but I fear for their safety...and with that, I cannot watch...although Men's Diving is still a draw for me....but I have no idea when it's on and why NBC can't do decent coverage...
So, I listen to folk music instead....

DrBOP said...

The CBC coverage in Canada has sonewhat gone the NBC route, but they still. carry most events live and uninterupted.They also have a better sense of humor, AND have pics of ACTUAL LIVE GARBAGE available 24/7:

http://olympics.cbc.ca/

Andrew said...

A little off the subject, but the Brazilians who actually are attending the games are going a bit overboard in their enthusiasm. I'm glad that they have something to be happy about. Too bad they distracted that player...

Albert Giesbrecht said...

I was never prouder to be a Vancouverite than during the 2010 event. Yes the luger's death was tragic, I saw it on TV after I came home from watching the torch relay, I witnessed three handouts in three different locations. It was only going to be two but protesters interfered with one hand off, but that's Vancouver for you.

John said...

It's looking like these will be the first olympics in my 50 years that Il will not watch a minute of. I recently moved to germany, and I don't even have a terrestrial TV setup, nor have I had the slightest interest in setting one up.

Nick said...

Ha! I saw none of it. Never watch. Every year, I wish everyone involved well and hope no one gets hurt, and that's the extent of my interest in the Olympics. This year I did have to watch part of it because I was in a doctor's office waiting room with a TV blaring in my face. Water polo was on. The commentator described the "action" as a "street fight!", but it just looked like folks bobbing up and down and moving around in water like a Saturday afternoon at the park. You can't move that fast in water if you're not swimming. Anyway, I guess I didn't appreciate water polo. But I did flip through a lot of magazines, which I was grateful for. The joke has always been about old magazines in waiting rooms, but I've had the unfortunate opportunity to spend hours upon hours in waiting rooms for over a year, and there are hardly any magazines around anymore. Old "Time" issue from seven months ago? I'm happy to see this now.