Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Vancouver Olympics are 10 days away

The Winter Olympics in Vancouver, BC, Canada are only 10 days away!  It has been only 18 months since the Beijing Olympics, but thanks to the switch in the 90's to have the winter games during the "off" even years, we get to experience all that is the Olympics again.

Unfortunately, something that seems to come up every time the Olympics come around is the subject of drugs and doping.  The constant battle of the testers to catch up with the latest drug or masking technique continues with the cheaters usually being half to a full step ahead although someone usually gets caught and the testers can declare victory.  Given this, I was pleased to see that Italy will fine any athlete caught doping $140K!  All 109 athletes going to the games will have to sign a statement agreeing to pay the fine if caught.  From the story:
CONI president Giovanni Petrucci says the committee has added the deterrent "to show how serious Italian sport is in the fight against doping. Whoever doesn't sign won't go to Vancouver."
Other Olympic Committee's would be well served to follow Italy's example as a further deterent against doping.

But enough about the negative aspects of doping, what about the games and sports themselves?  In the United States, we'll get a steady diet of the glamor sports of figure skating, alpine skiing, speed skating, and hockey, but we'll get helpings of bobsledfreestyle skiing, and unfortunately snow boarding (how this became an Olympic sport I'll never know).  Interested in something else?  Good luck finding it on NBC, but that may actually be a good thing (see below).

For those of us living near the Canadian border, we are lucky enough to get CBC and additional coverage that way, but that could mean just adding curling to the list above!

For the US viewer, there will be a number of interesting stories including:
There will be many more stories I'm sure, and we can depend on NBC to show us as many of them as they show the sports in action.  Which brings us to the television coverage.

It appears that, as was done for Beijing and prior games, NBC will elect to show us plausibly live coverage of all the key events and perhaps more, instead of giving us live coverage.  Sure, a few events may align with the eastern time zone to be shown live there, and the lower tier events NBC doesn't really care about may be live on secondary channels, but much of the coverage won't be live and worse, the events that are live will only be live in the eastern time zone and those of us on the west coast only a few hours from the events themselves, will have to wait 3 hours for all that coverage whether taped or live.

In this day and age of ESPN.com, Twitter, e-mail, Facebook, etc. it is just silly for NBC to think that folks can really hide from the results and thus the drama they are trying to hype will be lost with folks knowing the results.  That alone may cause some to not tune in, but also with so many having DVRs/Tivo/etc. now, if NBC isn't showing it live in the first place, many (I know I will) will simply record NBC's coverage and watch it at our own speed.  Then we can skip the ads and avoid the "up close and personals" which also defeats the purpose of NBC trying to get everything into prime time so they can sell those ads.  Perhaps those of us doing that are in the minority and NBC is really appealing to the average TV viewer who will tune in.

For a longer and more eloquent rant on the subject, see Bruce Jenkins article.

Thankfully, in addition to having a DVR, I will have access to CBC and I expect while they may not have as many total hours of coverage that NBC claims, they will show more events live and I plan to take advantage of that.

What do you think?  What are you looking forward to from these Olympics?  Leave a comment!

Let the games begin!

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