Lately I seem to be more obsessed with coverage of the coverage than I am with the Olympics themselves. For all my complaining about NBC, I think they're probably right about some things. Americans are not going to sit still and watch a whole ski race, and Al Trautwig knows how to tell a story, so the way they're packaging the cross-country skiing is just about perfect for their audience.
On the other hand, most of us would watch all the figure skaters, not just the U.S. skaters and the medal contenders. And we would watch for as long as they showed them. They don't have to cut away from live skating to a bobsled race taped earlier in the day. In fact, they could have shown the bobsled race live in the daytime and given us the highlights at night. (If I were in charge, that's what I'd do. I'd also put curling on pay-per-view, but maybe that's just me.)
To give credit where it's due, MSNBC did something unexpected today. Between hockey games, they showed the three medal performances in last night's ice dancing in a way we never get to see them. They left out all the commentary by their crack announcing crew and just kept the sound of the music, the applause, and the blades cutting across the ice.
That made the ice dancing seem more like a performance than a competitive sport, which of course is exactly what it is. You don't have the same ten couples in the same position in the standings from beginning to end if it's a real competition.
But it proved something else to me, too. It proved that the judges, such as they are, were right to call it nearly a tie, with a slight edge to the French couple over the Russians. It also proved that the Italians were good enough to win the bronze, despite the fall. So, all in all, I'm satisfied, and now on to the ladies. (Why are they ladies, and not women? And when did bobsled become bobsleigh?)
It was a revelation seeing even a small part of an event without the incessant blather of the experts. It reminds me of those wonderful years when HBO used to show the BBC's coverage of Wimbledon. Before that, I never knew you could enjoy a sporting event on television without the drone of voices telling you what you're seeing. That shows a respect for the athletes and their sport that the U.S. networks seldom convey.