Sunday, August 15, 2004

How To Televise the Olympics

In the United States this goes as follows:

Remember that the main objective is to frighten away all sports lovers. Never forget this important principle: if it ain't suitable for a soap opera, it ain't olympic enough. Remember to skip from event to event, always leaving just when things get interesting, then returning four hours later with a quick recap which must be made very hard to decipher. Remember to do a lot of closeups of people that might be the same athletes we thought we'd see in the actual competition, but make sure that these closeups are taken several years earlier and show no sporting aspects. Search high and low for athletes who might be orphans or at least fatherless, who might have broken out of a tremendous addiction for Twinkies, who have a third cousin who is cheering for them in some distant and hopefully wartorn place.

Try to find the Human Interest! This attracts women, and women, as we all know, are not the same as sports fans. Women like to hear about terrible personal duels between two athletes, as long as both of them look cute. This is a known fact. And women don't want to watch the events themselves, so don't show them. Instead, give them background stories on one or two athletes who might or might not do well in the games. Spend a lot of camera time on the families of American athletes in the audiences. Women like this a lot, especially if a world record is broken at the same time.
As you may have noticed, I'm spitting angry. I'm a female goddess and I like sports just fine. I also don't like the way women are being blamed for the inane decisions of some television corporations.

To compare this coverage to something that many Americans might relate to, consider an important baseball game in which most of the time is taken by closeups of the players and stories of their family backgrounds and trials and tribulations, then a quick scan is given of the start of the game, then back to 'close and personal', then a quick view of the fifth inning, then perhaps some graphs about the rules of the game, then a final summary of who actually won the game. This is how most of the olympic events come across to me. I really don't know why I bother watching.