Tag Archives: NBC

Top 10 worst moments of the Beijing Olympics

CBC’s calling it “a great Olympics” and everyone seems to have forgotten the smog and other hyped-up problems with the Beijing Games now that they went on without a major hitch. As news outlets produce their top 10 Olympic moments, I feel it’s time to counter that with some lowlights (if you’re just interested in athlete failures, CBC has some more national embarassments)

10. CBC commentators

It wasn’t deliberate, but a comment by a CBC commentator during an Olympic synchronized diving competition that the two Chinese divers “even look the same” when they clearly don’t didn’t impress one viewer. CBC’s habit of taking Olympic loser has-beens former athletes and bringing them in as commentators was good-intentioned, but ultimately led to awkward play-by-play as they didn’t have adequate training in broadcasting.

9. Adam van Koeverden, men’s K-1 1,000-metre kayak race

Van Koeverden, a world champion, our opening ceremony flag-bearer and presumed medal shoo-in, spent the first half of the final in a close second, then watched as almost the entire field rowed past him. He ended up eighth out of nine, two seconds slower than his previous heat time, and an embarrassment so great he immediately had to apologize. Of course, he redeemed himself the next day, taking silver in the K-1 500, taking Canada’s final medal of the Games.

8. Marie-Hélène Prémont, women’s mountain biking

Another medal favourite and multiple world champion, Prémont starts hyperventilating inexplicably on her second lap and is forced to withdraw from the race.

7. Janos Baranyai, Hungarian weightlifter (77kg)

Providing the answer to the question “can’t lifting twice your weight over your head hurt you?”, Baranyai’s arm can’t hold up his 148 kg attempt and the weight dislocates his elbow, bending his arm backwards. That was it for show-stopping injuries in weightlifting, which is pretty impressive considering all the men’s and women’s weight classes all trying to break world records in obscene weightlifts. Baranyai is probably out the rest of the year (and that will hurt him financially because of Hungary’s lacking athlete insurance policies), but otherwise he’s expected to recover.

6. U.S. 4×100 relay teams

Expected medal favourites (second perhaps only to Jamaica), the U.S. men’s 4×100-metre relay team fumbles, literally, in a preliminary heat as Darvis Patton and Tyson Gay can’t complete a handoff and the baton is dropped. The team is disqualified and doesn’t make it to the final. That would be bad enough, but mere hours later, Torri Edwards and Lauryn Williams fail to connect on their final pass in a women’s 4×100 relay heat, and both teams leave Beijing humiliated.

5. Liu Xiang, Chinese 110-metre hurdler

A national hero with endorsement deals up the Xiang-Xiang, Liu pulls up with a leg injury in heats and fails to qualify for the final. Not only is the country disappointed, but so are insurance companies and advertisers. The BBC compounds the awfulness with some misleading editing.

4. NBC

The U.S. national broadcaster disappointed many when they decided to embargo Olympic coverage, including the opening and closing ceremonies, until Eastern prime time up to 12 hours later. But it got worse when the network had “LIVE” on broadcasts that were clearly hours old. NBC tried to weasel its way out of it, as if there’s some loophole that allows someone to lie about these things.

3. Opening ceremony

Although it looked great, the opening ceremony took some heat when word got out that the little 9-year-old girl singing, Lin Miaoke, was actually lip-syncing a song by less cute 7-year-old Yang Peiyi, a decision that apparently made its way all the way up the political chain of command. Combined with computer-generated animation of fireworks, it prompted the obvious question: What kind of example are we setting for athletes when we’re cheating in the opening ceremonies?

2. Angel Valodia Matos, Cuban taekwondoer

Some have criticized taekwondo as being a sport that looks like fighting but isn’t. Matos might have helped its tough-guy image, but disgraced himself and his country when he kicked a referee in the face after a match filled with controversial calls. After he failed to apologize, Matos and his coach were banned for life from the Olympics.

1. Ara Abrahamian, Swedish wrestler (84kg greco-roman)

Upset over a semifinal match he thought was badly judged and cost him the gold medal, Abrahamian receives his bronze medal during the ceremony and then promptly walks off, throwing his medal to the ground. The IOC took his medal, disqualified him, and handed it to the next guy in line.

UPDATE (Sept. 11): As just about everyone in the world predicted, he’s asking for his medal back.

National humility in contrast

Two articles from two countries’ most prestigious newspapers compare two television networks’ coverage of the Beijing Olympics opening ceremonies.

The Globe and Mail says NBC’s coverage “outshone the work of the CBC, mainly because co-hosts Bob Costas and Matt Lauer brought more information and enthusiasm to the show than did the stolid, rather dull presentation of the CBC’s Peter Mansbridge, who handled most of the commentary during the first 80 minutes.”

The New York Times: “how extraordinarily pleasant it was to be able to view that spectacle in Beijing without the annoyance of constant exclamation and endless recitations of trivia — just great swaths of wonderful silence from our narrators MacLean and Mansbridge between 8am and 9am or so, just letting the show at the stadium tell its own story with the least obtrusive economy of helpful footnotes, no urgency whatsoever to riddle the air with inane nattering and relentless fill.”

I guess it’s all a matter of interpretation.

NBC is lying to you

I just watched the Men’s 100m backstroke final race on NBC late night. It says “LIVE” in the corner, so I can only assume the images I’m seeing are, you know, live.

Problem is, the race happened five hours ago. I know, because I watched it live on CBC. And the results have been on the Beijing Olympics website since then.

This isn’t the first time I noticed this problem, either.

So is someone at NBC incompetent, running a tape delay without covering up the “LIVE” thing, or is someone being intentionally deceptive?

UPDATE: It seems it’s the latter, and I’m not the only one to notice. The official reason:

…the constant “Live” tag is accompanied by twice-per-hour time stamps that inform West Coast viewers that the event was only live on the East Coast (ex. “10:05 ET”).

“The audience makeup of the Olympics is very much like that of ‘American Idol’ and ‘Dancing with the Stars’ which have ‘live’ season finales presented in much the same way,” an NBC Sports spokesperson says. “You assume there’s a large amount of intelligence in the viewing audience, so when they see those twice-an-hour time stamps they’ll understand what is being presented.”

You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.

Let’s count how wrong this is:

  1. Lying isn’t OK if you air a disclaimer twice an hour.
  2. Lying isn’t OK if other broadcasters also lie.
  3. I’m on the East Coast, and what I saw wasn’t live.
  4. The difference in time zones between East and West Coast is three hours, not five.
  5. This isn’t American Idol. The time difference isn’t as obvious, and last I checked the Beijing Olympics wasn’t created by a U.S. or British-based entertainment company.
  6. None of these things are excuses for presenting a tape delay as live.

It’s either live or it isn’t. It wasn’t. I don’t care if it makes you look bad. It’s wrong to lie. And more importantly, it’s ridiculously transparent.