Saturday, February 13, 2010

Olympics!

I enjoy the Olympics.

I love the competition, the feats and skills I could never even hope to perform, the Corinthian Spirit, the camaraderie of fellow competitors who have shared experiences with the same struggles and sacrifices, the national pride each watcher feels as they see their flag go flying by or raised in tribute on the medals podium... I love it.

What I don't love, however, are broadcasters who seem to think that what they have to say is more important that what is going on. I already miss watching the Canadian channels and their coverage of the games - they seem to know that what people want to see are the competitors and the events, not the broadcasters trying to 'add meaning' or 'context' to the games.

That being said, I'm not in the viewing area of the Canadian channels that are covering the Vancouver games, so I'm stuck watching the NBC affiliates where I'm likely to get 50 minutes of touchy-feely stories and only about 10 minutes of competition in every hour.

But I did enjoy the Opening Ceremonies. China amazed the world with their creativity in their opening ceremonies - and the sheer number of individuals who made manual tasks appear automated. It's not likely that any nation would be able to top what they did - so I'm glad Canada didn't try.

At first, I thought their presentation was slow. I also question the wisdom of doing a show that requires explanation in order to understand what's going on. But I did enjoy the special effects and, after a bit, the theme of moving across the Canadian nation to arrive at the games in Vancouver.

I thought they did a nice job of selecting Canadians to represent them in the show - from singers and artists to the individuals carrying the Olympic flag and lighting the torch.

The participation of their First Nations with their colorful costumes was a special treat. I didn't realize that their traditional dress was so colorful - it reminded me of the colors seen in a Bahamian Junkanoo or at a Mardi Gras celebration.

I loved the whales who traveled across the stadium floor - it really looked like whales coming up from water to breathe, complete with a mist that simulated the exhale from their blow holes.

I'm not a fan of KD Lang, and thought the words to the song she sang didn't quite fit in with the event, but loved the sound of her voice resonating throughout the stadium.

I thoroughly enjoyed Shane Koyczan's slam poetry as he recited a variation of his "We Are More."

John Furlong, Chair of the Vancouver Organizing Committee, extended the welcome and I think it's one of the best and most inspiring welcomes I've heard in a long time.

I also liked the fact that the athletes were in the stadium and were able to watch the opening ceremonies. Often, the parade of athletes is saved for the end, but Canada, explaining that the ceremonies were, after all, for the athletes, had the parade at the beginning.

And while it wasn't part of the ceremony, I was moved by a segment at the start of the NBC coverage last night: Tom Brokaw's look at the special relationship and long-standing friendship between the United States and Canada. That is certainly something to be proud of and grateful for.

So now the competitions begin. I'll be rooting, of course, for the USA, but I'll cheer just as loudly if Canada can win a gold.

6 comments:

Matt said...

Thanks to Bob Costas and Matt Lauer, I was just about read to throw my remote through the TV... and I picked up coverage AFTER the parade of nations!

I was simply furious when they started ragging on them for the technical issues with the caulderon.

Maggie Thurber said...

I wasn't going to mention the problem with the pylons because - well, other than being a bit of a wait, I didn't think the missing one negatively impacted the appearance of the caulderon after it was lit...

I felt badly for them that it didn't rise up as planned, but think they handled it well ....

However, the broadcasters appeared happy that they had something to talk about....ugh!

James said...

The CBC didn't get the rights to televise the Olympics. CTV did, and we don't get them hee in Toledo. Expect NBC to make sure they stroke the egos of their broadcasters. That's what it's all about. And if you're a hockey fan, I hope you get MSNBC, USA and CNBC. Hockey won't be on NBC until the gold medal game (I think).

Maggie Thurber said...

James - I do get those other channels - and it's a good thing, too, otherwise, I'd be in withdrawal....

Tim Higgins said...

I find the opening ceremonies of the Olympics wonderful pageantry, but disappointing with the fact that they insist on making it a road version of a Broadway play (with some CG effects thrown in to add to the hype).

I was likewise disappointed in the rendition of "Oh Canada", a national anthem that I have always found stirring.

Finding yet one more event that I am considered to be unable to understand without proper spin and punditry is simply par for the course.

That being said, bring on the curling! It's nice to know that there is still an event in which I might be able to compete.

James said...

If MSNBC preempts Keith Olbermann for hockey games, I'd say it's well worth it.

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