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Olympic Fail

August 10, 2012

Watching the Olympics at Fenway = #OlympicAwesome

Missy Franklin on the big screen at Fenway during rain delay

NBC’s coverage of the 30th Olympiad = #OlympicFail

Here is my open letter to NBC’s Jim Bell.  I’d love to hear your comments on what you liked and didn’t like about NBC’s Olympic coverage.

Dear Mr. Jim Bell, NBC Olympics Executive Producer: 

If the US men were to fail to win the gold medal in basketball, it would not be as embarrassing as the quality of NBC’s Olympic coverage. While I applaud your utilization of apps and multiple cable channels to bring us more live action, I’m astounded and angered that the basics of sports broadcasting have been seemingly lost in the shuffle.

For example, in the women’s gymnastics all-around final, Gabby Douglas was anxiously waiting, along with the rest of the world, to see if the Russia’s Viktoria Komovacould score better than a fifteen point three-something.  I don’t remember the exact number, because the graphic was only displayed for a few seconds.  The wait was grueling, but, when the score was finally displayed in the stadium, all we saw at home were the reactions of the girls and their coaches.  Komova’s score was never shown or even mentioned by the announcers.  Adding insult to injury, this event was not aired live.  NBC had hours to get it right and they didn’t.

Graphics were another broadcasting basic that was ignored.  In swimming and track especially, it was difficult to tell what race we were watching.  How hard would it be to have a graphic displaying the race type and distance?  For instance, “200M Men’s Backstroke Final.”  Little things like this are annoying, and they detract from the viewer’s experience.

However, the most egregious error, by far, is not showing entire medal ceremonies.  It’s bad enough that we don’t get to see every ceremony, and we usually have to stay awake until 11:45pm to see any, but to only show the gold medal presentation is outrageous.  To only air the ceremonies in which the US wins gold is shameful.   The Olympics are about the world coming together not just about the United States.  When Andy Murray wins the gold at Wimbledon against Roger Federer, I want to see that ceremony.  When Usain Bolt wins gold in the 100-meters and American Justin Gatlin gets the bronze, I expect to see that ceremony.  Olympic competitions are not over when the buzzer rings or when the final scores are tailed.  They are over when the medals are handed out.  You’re failing to tell the whole story and watching the ceremonies later online doesn’t count. 

Also, when I was a kid, heck, even now, I dream about standing on the podium, having a gold medal draped around my neck, and then bravely fighting back tears as the National Anthem plays.  How are today’s kids going to dream about this moment if they never get to see it?

In Sochi, please try to do better.  The US Olympians, the Olympians of the world, their fans and your viewers deserve better.   


Hollie Mendillo

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