2.17.2006

olympic check-in

I'm thoroughly enjoying watching The Olympics. I'm not watching in any organized, concerted way, just turning on the TV more than I normally would and tuning in to whatever sport is on. (Unless it's figure skating, then I turn it off.)

I'm really enjoying the coverage at the venues themselves, which is informative, purely sports-oriented and not overly patriotic. What a great change from US coverage! I could use more information about the sports, as I think Olympics coverage should assume that most people watching don't normally follow these sports, and need some instruction. However, since I'm often just watching highlights - for example, of curling - the announcers might be doing a lot of this and I'm just not catching it.

One thing I love about Olympics coverage these days is the total lack of sexism. This probably dates me, but I well remember coverage of women's sports that reeked of blatant sexism. Not any more. Progress!

The only thing I don't like about the CBC coverage is Brian Williams. Almost everything about him annoys me. I especially dislike his automatic assumption that anyone accused of cheating has cheated. Even with casual viewing, I've heard him do this many times already, and I think it's wrong. Anyone can be accused of anything, and when someone says "I didn't do it," they might be telling the truth. Not according to Mr Williams.

His opinionated commentary bothers me in general. I'm interested in sports; I'm not interested in one man's opinions. He seems to inject himself into the story whenever possible. Hey Brian, it's not about you.

(US readers, this isn't this guy, it's this guy.)

Other than that, I'm loving it. I don't know how many medals Team Canada has won so far, and I don't care. I just love seeing these incredible athletes do their thing.

36 comments:

RobfromAlberta said...

I could use more information about the sports, as I think Olympics coverage should assume that most people watching don't normally follow these sports, and need some instruction.

I think this is par for the course in Canadian Olympic coverage (especially Winter Olympics). The assumption is that Canadians are pretty well-informed unless it is a new sport (like short-track speedskating a few years ago). You're right though. A lot of new Canadians have little knowledge of curling or hockey and could use a little primer to more fully appreciate the sport.

The only thing I don't like about the CBC coverage is Brian Williams.

I agree. But he's such a fixture when it comes to CBC Olympic coverage, I guess he must have some popular support.

Scott M. said...

The only thing I don't like about the CBC coverage is Brian Williams.

C'mon! The man has it down pat. Where else can you, at every opportunity, learn what time it is in Turino AND Vancouver AND Toronto AND Halifax?

CBC: All time, all the time.

Kyle_From_Ottawa said...

The only thing I don't like about the CBC coverage is Brian Williams

I'm not sure anyone likes him. He's inserts opinions at inapproriate times, and he doesn't have the amusement factor that Don Cherry has.

M@ said...

It seems I'm (at least partly) to blame for Brian Williams being on the air then! :) I'm surprised that I'm in the minority here, but there's no accounting for (my) tastes.

Anyhow, on the subject of sexism in the sports announcing. I am a bit of a soccer nut and I have discussed with other fans the fact that in women's soccer, there is a lot more commentary about the players' physical qualities, even by female announcers. They would often praise things like players' "beautiful legs" -- whereas male players' appearance usually only got commentary when they were especially tall or short or something relevant to the game like that. (Most other fans disagreed with my assessment but I maintain that it's true -- I just never had the means to conduct an actual study. Some day!)

So the women's boardercross (!?) finalists were lining up this morning, and what did we learn about a Canadian competitor?

- She's a firefighter. (Isn't that cute! Making her way in the world!)
- She's single. (Hello, boys!)

Okay, the firefighter thing may be kind of interesting (though they mentioned it when she lined up for all three races that I saw). But that she's single? Does that deserve comment?

I've no doubt the commentary has gotten better, but I don't think it's perfect yet.

L-girl said...

Okay, the firefighter thing may be kind of interesting (though they mentioned it when she lined up for all three races that I saw). But that she's single? Does that deserve comment?

I've no doubt the commentary has gotten better, but I don't think it's perfect yet.


That does sound sexist from here. I guess should amend my blanket statement. :)

In any Olympic coverage I've heard so far, there's been no sexism, and that's a HUGE improvement over what I heard in my teens and 20s. In those days it was all "these gals have so much spirit", female athletes referred to by first name and male athletes by last name, inappropriate focus on their home lives (especially whether or not they had reproduced!) and, most irritating to me, gratuitous proof of heterosexuality.

L-girl said...

Nice to hear others dislike Brian Williams! I mistook M@'s approval for a more general sentiment. ;-)

M@ said...

Well I'm a pretty big fan of ol' Brian, but I don't have the influence I hope for. Story of my life. Anyway, I guess I bring the average attitude around here up from "Despise" to "Simmering contempt for". Well, I tried.

But on the more relevant side, I'm going to be paying a little closer attention to the language after this morning. Do you think that the generally improving commentary is a factor of editorial policy, or does it reflect a greater respect and equality across the society towards female athletes?

L-girl said...

Do you think that the generally improving commentary is a factor of editorial policy, or does it reflect a greater respect and equality across the society towards female athletes?

I think it's the latter.

Women's sports has come into its own and won real acceptance. Whole generations of girls have grown up knowing they can be athletes, having female athlete role models, proper training, etc - and the sports media has (to a large extent) changed to reflect that.

It's not perfect, of course. ESPN magazine doesn't cover women's sports at all, for example, which I assume is a marketing decision about their audience.

In the US, even though gender equality in school sports is mandated by law (it's referred to as "Title IX"), it's often not enforced, and most women's and girls' sports programs are way underfunded compared to boys' and men's.

But it's SO much better than it used to be. The old standards would be inconceivable today.

The duck thief said...

Currently we have eight medals but only one gold which we won on the first day.

For a change I was watching the Olympics on NBC during the Men's Long Program for figure skating. And I absolutely loved what they said about Jeff Buttle. Not only that, I was thrilled when Buttle medaled after being in 6th place in the short program.

Scott M. said...

For those fans of Brian Williams (Alllll right), please enjoy the Brian Williams Drinking game (original source no longer available):

Brian Williams says "I tell you what" - 1 drink
Brian says "We'll have that for you in a minute" - 2 drinks
Brian does his distinctive laugh - chug until he stops laughing
Someone in the room imitates Brian's laugh - pour your drink on them
Brian calls whoever he's talking to by his/her full name - 1 drink
Brian leans on his desk with both arms - 1 drink while leaning on the table or floor with both arms (don't spill!)
Brian taps his pen - 1 drink for each tap
Brian taps his earpiece - 1 drink for each tap
Brian says "Lemme ask you this" - 1 drink
Brian points or shakes his finger at the camera - 2 drinks
Brian talks to the camera crew or the director - 2 drinks
Brian reports what someone else told him, making it sound like a private conversation - 1 drink
Brian says "Lots more to come" - chug until lots more comes
Brian has a dramatic pause - chug until the pause is over
Brian tells you the scoring of a baseball play - 1 drink for every player/number
Brian tells you about a "great story" - 2 drinks
Brian pronounces a name wrong - 1 drink
Brian changes the pronunciation of a name through the course of the game/Games - 1 different drink for each different pronunciation (keep the fridge stocked!)
Brian points out the Canadians - 1 drink (preferably a Canadian) for every Canadian
Bri-an-se-pa-rates-ev-e-ry-syl-la-ble (i.e. Shatnerizes) - 1 drink for every syllable
Brian makes a stern face as he talks about drugs - 1 drink followed by a good hard suck on a lemon
Brian looks a bit silly wearing a headset microphone - 1 drink
Brian looks quite silly wearing a headset microphone - 2 drinks
"..when Brian says, "we'll have that coming up in about ___ minutes; that's _____ Eastern, (and he carries on with many more time zones)." Say one drink to start, and one more for each additional time zone after 1.
"from now" after the minutes [1 drink]; the countdown to Ben Chin coming up in "fourteen... twelve... six minutes from now"
the past two Olympics Brian has read the "big story" from a local newspaper. In Sydney I think he even had multiple papers some days. I don't think I've ever seen another broadcaster do something so stupid, right on the air. Then he holds the papers up so the camera can get a shot of the story... That's gotta be worth a chug."
---
I'll add one of my own:
"Allll right" - 1 shot

Marnie said...

I love it when CBC shows a bit of the play-by-play from another country's network. This morning I saw a snippet of Italy's coverage of the men's team pursuit (speed skating), which the Italians won. The announcers were very ... vocal! This kind of thing makes me feel more connected to the rest of the world. "Aw, look how happy they are, isn't that great? I'm happy for them."

L-girl said...

This kind of thing makes me feel more connected to the rest of the world.

I like that, too. :)

Re Brian Williams Drinking Game, Allan and I have a drinking game for one of our Red Sox announcers. Since baseball is a long season, we forgo shots, but we take one gulp of whatever's in front of us (wine, beer, water, juice - doesn't matter), whenever we hear one of the phrases. It's outstanding!

L-girl said...

Brian pronounces a name wrong - 1 drink

God I hate that. Baseball announcers do this all the time, drives me nuts. How hard is it to refer to your media guide before the game, or even between innings??

Scott M. said...

Off the Brian Williams topic for a moment... one of the other major differences I find between the NBC and CBC coverage is that it seems NBC feels it necessary to have someone talking all the time.

I rather enjoy the long breaks in the CBC coverage where the commentators let the action speak for itself. It's nice to hear the background music or noise!

Especially during the ceremonies (NBC talked non-stop during the opening ceremonies -- aargh!).

L-girl said...

it seems NBC feels it necessary to have someone talking all the time.

I rather enjoy the long breaks in the CBC coverage where the commentators let the action speak for itself.


I agree! Very much so.

Another parallel to baseball (you can see I'm getting itchy for the season to start). The silences are part of the game. Few announcers and virtually no parks will let you experience them anymore.

Especially during the ceremonies (NBC talked non-stop during the opening ceremonies -- aargh!).

I've seen many people complaining online that NBC ruined the Opening Ceremonies. What a shame.

redsock said...

I've probably listened to Williams for a grand total of 15 minutes and from what I recall of his annoying annoucning, I would have been staggering back to the LCBO for another vat of wine.

From reading the TV column in the Globe & Mail, it sounds like NBC is showing figure skating 24/7.

Scott M. said...

I've probably listened to Williams for a grand total of 15 minutes and from what I recall of his annoying annoucning, I would have been staggering back to the LCBO for another vat of wine.

You see, the trick is to change your point of view and look at is as laughable or funny (which the drinking game is). Approached this way, you'll find yourself intentionally tuning in when Brian Williams (CBC) is on!

Wrye said...

The Swedish women's hockey team has beaten the US!

Wow. This is an incredible development for the sport. Come on, Finland!

L-girl said...

Go Finland GO!!

Um, excuse me, why are we cheering for Finland? :)

Wrye said...

I want them to give Canada a good run today. If they can beat us, they'll be in the Gold medal game, so that should be all the encouragement they need. Womens' hockey is at great risk of staying a 2-country sport, so we want other countries to strengthen.

Scott M. said...

Two things I like about CBC coverage:

All of CBC's coverage is available on Rogers on Demand, free for anyone who has a digital box, as of 6pm the next day. That's just awesome. Though having to fast-forward through the blacked-out commercials is just silly...

The other thing I like, and have always liked, is CBC's Olympic Theme. It will be a shame to lose that when CTV takes over for the 2010 olympics.

Kyle_From_Ottawa said...

Off topic....

Cheney shoots someone, and his victim apologizes?!

L-girl said...

"My family and I are deeply sorry for all that Vice President Cheney and his family have had to go through this week," Whittington said.

Pretty crazy. Right up there with Michael Brown (late of FEMA) saying he felt "abandoned". Bizarro World.

L-girl said...

All of CBC's coverage is available on Rogers on Demand, free for anyone who has a digital box, as of 6pm the next day.

I think that's more of a Rogers promo than a feature of CBC.

How did CTV get the coverage for 2010?

Kyle_From_Ottawa said...

I think that's more of a Rogers promo than a feature of CBC.

Well, it's a partnership between the CBC and the major cable companies (Shaw, Rogers, etc.) so I guess it's open to interpretation as to who benefits more.

L-girl said...

it's a partnership between the CBC and the major cable companies

Oh, I see. I thought it was a come-on for Rogers On Demand. Which it is, but I guess it works both ways.

Wrye said...

CTV is linked with TSN, I think, and just drove up with a big truck full of money, I believe. So we'll likely see the inverse of this year--TSN takes the lead and CBC picks up the surplus sports.

I also suspect we'll see bunches of the usual CBC commentators involved in some way. Because love him or--no scratch that, tolerate him or hate him, it's just not the Olympics if it's not Brian Williams. It's some sort of pavlovian thing.

Wrye said...

And clearly the victim's afraid Cheny might want to finish the job. :D

L-girl said...

CTV is linked with TSN, I think, and just drove up with a big truck full of money, I believe.

That'll do it.

TSN is the Canadian ESPN. I didn't know ESPN was related to CTV. I'll have to check that out. In fact... we have a regular reader who works for CTV. Our own ALPF.

Amazing that Sweden beat the US! This has to be one of the biggest upsets in Olympic hockey, ever.

L-girl said...

it's just not the Olympics if it's not Brian Williams.

That's a shame.

Scott M. said...

So we'll likely see the inverse of this year--TSN takes the lead and CBC picks up the surplus sports.

Unlikely. TSN (Bell GlobeMedia) teamed up with Sportsnet (Rogers) for their bid. Sportsnet will be picking up other games.

What will be interesting is if Sportsnet uses all four of it's regional feeds to cover multiple sports...

teflonjedi said...

I am very pleased to report that when I came into work today, down here in Cupertino, one of my co-workers remarked "I hear the Canadian women hockey team is kicking ass, and steam-rolling over everyone." I work with great people, and in the ensuing conversation not a sexist comment was to be had.

I finally got to return the compliment with "I see that Norway is cleaning up on the overall medal count!"

Carrie said...

I just realized that I must have been reflexively drowning out our Brian Williams because I can't recall one word he's ever said. I watched some skating on the Rogers Digital thing today and it was great, sort of.

Question - does anyone like the new medals? I don't. I can't believe Italy redesigned them with a hole in them. But I'm wondering what everyone else thinks.

Marnie said...

I think the medals are ugly and weird. They look like CDs on ribbons. Oh well, I don't suppose I'll be getting one myself, and there's a new design for every Olympics, so I guess I won't have to look at these for long.

L-girl said...

and in the ensuing conversation not a sexist comment was to be had.

Very cool. Things like that make up for any number of Neanderthal moments.

L-girl said...

Re TSN, CTV and ESPN, I see that we're both correct and incorrect.

CTV and TSN are both owned by Bell Globemedia.

TSN and ESPN were related by a 30% ownership, but are no longer.

This according to the Wikipedia entry on TSN.