Anyone who knows me knows I love the Olympics. It’s one of those can’t-miss sporting events for me and I try to watch as much as possible. As a matter of fact, I’m one of those fans who, when the big event is scheduled, can’t wait for the primetime replay and will watch the event online.
As such, I definitely have some opinions about how the games has progressed so far.
First, I would get rid of all sports that uses judges to decide a winner. Using judges makes everything too subjective and there is too big a chance for corruption. If it can’t be determined head to head or against the clock, it should go. So that means getting rid of the Winter Olympics’ biggest glamor sports: ice skating and snowboarding, among others.
The thing with judged sports is that no one, other than the judges, knows how things are being scored, which leads to a lot of raised eyebrows. There have already been rumors of improprieties among figure skating judges and who knows how the snowboarders in the slopestyle and halfpipe are being judged. We just watch a run and then wonder how it will be scored. I’ve watched enough of these kinds of sports to see a small bobble here and there, but I’m guessing a majority of viewers just watch the acrobatics and then wait to see where they are placed.
Conversely, look at a ski race, for example. The fastest person down the course wins the race. No controversies. It’s cut and dry. No wondering how the Russian judge will view the performance, or if a small mistake will be deducted. Whoever gets to the finish line first is the winner.
Second, American snowboarder Shaun White sure has a lot of haters — especially on his own team. I saw an interview on yahoo.com with one of White’s supposed teammates, Greg Bretz, who said he wouldn’t mind seeing White off the medals podium.
White all but put the sport on the map. Sure, he may be a little haughty with the rest of the snowboarding community, spending his preparation time in seclusion instead of hanging out with the rest of the group.
But imagine the pressure on White to win. At this point, with all his sponsors, he is more than a snowboarder, he is a commodity, and the pressure for him to win must be astronomical. Anything less is not good enough.
And yet, the rest of his “teammates” begrudge his success and stature. He is the face of the sport and dominates the snowboarding tour. If White announced his retirement today, where would that leave the sport? With a bunch of no-name athletes who apparently have no appreciation of what White has accomplished.
White should just go the route of Norwegian snowboarder Terje Haakonsen, considered the godfather of the sport and one who has all but given up competing because he did not like where the sport was heading. Never heard of him? Exactly. If he had decided to compete in the Olympics when snowboarding was first introduced for 1998 games in Nagano, Japan, maybe it would be Haakonsen, and not White, dominating the snowboarding headlines.
Third, Visa really needs to rethink the American athletes it chooses to dump in our laps ad nauseum leading up to and during the Olympics. At this point, it appears to be a curse to be a face of Visa’s Olympic commercials.
Shaun White? Fourth in the snowboard halfpipe, after pulling out of the slopestyle event. Short-track speedskater J.R. Celski? Fifth in 1,500 — his best event. Nordic combine (cross country skiing and ski jumping) athlete Billy Demong? Twenty-fourth place. Long-track speedskater Shani Davis? Eighth in the 1,000 — his signature event.
The future is not looking bright for bobsledder Lolo Jones or figure skater Ashley Wagner.
Fourth, get rid of women’s hockey. Let’s face it. There is Canada, the United States and everybody else. It’s hard to get excited when everyone knows who will be in the gold-medal game.
As much as I hate the notion of tape-delayed sports — especially the Olympics — I actually believe NBC is doing a decent job of coverage.
While there is still too much ice skating for my taste, at least it has cut down on the number of sappy features on the athletes — or at least moved them. In the past, NBC would load up its primetime (tape-delayed) coverage with all these stories of athletes overcoming long odds to become Olympians, with very little games’ action. Or, some quirky story about the Trans-Siberia Railroad. As Homer Simpson would say: boring.
This time, NBC seems to ramped up its coverage of the actual games and events, and leave the feature stories for the in-game hosts, instead of seeing main anchor Bob Costas (or in this case, Matt Lauer) setting up feature after feature.
I think it’s a lot more effective to see a story about snowboard halfpipe champion Iouri Podladtchkov moments before he takes his gold-medal winning run, as opposed to a half hour before the event is even broadcast.
Nathan Mollat can be reached by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone: 344-5200 ext. 117. He can also be followed on Twitter @CheckkThissOutt.