You thought I was going to say "NBC fucked up my Olympics," or "NBC fucked my Olympics by way of my ass." But that would be crass. What I got was a good asspoling: The National Broadcasting Company took an event I loved and raped me.

(Check that -- used to love. As a kid, I loved sports. I've grown up.)

As you may know, I don't expect sportswriters and sportscasters to be particularly intelligent. That's to be expected when your raison d'etre consists of thinking up sports similes ("He unloaded on him like a, uh... load of bricks!") and different ways to say "Oh, that hurts!" every weekend, a la ESPN every night. And NBC, in sending the NBC Sports Department to take charge of the Olympic coverage, simply proved me right.

NBC should probably send the News Department to take charge of the next Olympics. But then again, I'm not sure that NBC News is much smarter or more capable than NBC Sports. NBC News is pretty stupid and shallow itself, more concerned with presentation than substance, more worried about chopping a story to fit a two-minute slot rather than providing meaningful information.

Which was NBC Sport's problem -- much fluff, no substance. That, and an assload of commercials.


The following article mainly derives from comments I posted on
Fedoralog, created by a friend who probably wishes he had never given me permission to post on it. Check it out.

The Opening Ceremony
Bob Costas Makes an Ass of Himself, per the Usual
Whether you're a fan of them or not, the opening ceremony of the Olympics in Sydney, Australia was sad. It featured the strange and the "inspiring": Aussies on horseback, a child dangling
80 feet above the ground, giant balloon thingies and Cathy Freeman lighting a torch that nearly broke (probably the best part of the show).

But the sounds of the ceremony were dominated by Bob "I'll Say!" Costas and some deep-voiced woman (whatever her name is). Never mind the music and the fanfare! How could we do without Bob -- also known as the most annoying human being to have ever lived -- nattering in the background?

I expect ceremony watchers all over the world gnashed their teeth in frustration as he and his insipid cohort (whatever her name is) talked and talked and talked over the sound effects, announcements and didjeridus. And for no good reason -- nothing they said meant anything, as demonstrated by Costas the Intrepid Reporter:

"All of Australia feels a part of this night. No kids are in school."

Do I need to point out that night time is not the right time to send kids to school, Bob? Do we not know this? Jesus Christ. But then again, you're the master of the meaningless:

Bob Costas' Useless
Factoids Afflicted Upon Viewers
During the March of Nations

"Austria... land of culture..."

"Benin... they still practice voodoo in Benin..."

"The Central African Republic is located in Central Africa."

"Egypt. These are the people who built the pyramids, after all, so it's little wonder that they're a weightlifting power."

It's little wonder why the rest of the world thinks we're idiots. Thanks buddy, you done us proud!

More stupid shit: During said continuous and neverending nattering, Costas' cohort (whatever her name is) announced, "The Australians have a unique phrase in their venacular: 'Such is life'."

Really. "Such is life" is a phrase unique to Australia. No one else says "Such is life." No one. It's true, because NBC says it's true.

(You know, the French never get any credit for anything. C'est la vie. That's just the way it goes -- that's right! But then again, it's only the French who're getting snubbed.)

The stupid shit continues: Nikki Webster, the minor child dangling 80 feet above the stadium, she who is "an elfin 13-year-old with toffee-coloured eyes and honey-blonde hair" was annoying . I mean, there's kids who are cute, and then there's those kids who try much too hard to be cute. Of course, NBC, Australia and probably my mom immediately fell in love with her. "You think she'll wake up tomorrow and find herself a star?" Costas pondered, loudly and uselessly over the chanting of performers. "I think so."

Thanks again, Bob.

Post-Performance Interview with Nikki Webster Which Basically Set the Tone of NBC's Olympic Coverage

NBC Reporter: How did your parents feel about you flying 100,000 feet over the stadium?

Nikki: They didn't know! I kept it a secret!

NBC Reporter: Ha ha! They didn't know? Ha ha!

Nikki: No, they didn't know! I kept it a secret!

NBC Reporter: Well, Nikki, you're one remarkable little girl!

[Nikki nods.]


The Other Australia
Spinning the story, NBC style, distorts the story

The shitty problem with NBC's forays into the Olympics is being awashed in the continual stream of shitty
formula stories like so much diarrhea. You know, the sad stories of the athlete whose daddy died which led to depression which led to drug abuse which led to arrests for suspicion of bestiality which led to finding God which led to being "born again" which led to dedication and aspiration which led to parole which led (as it must, else the story couldn't be aired) to hopes for a medal in the Olympics.

We could be watching the sports. We could be watching more sports. Go figure.

Yeah, there's a lot of that story shit -- so much, there's no possible way a human being could not have heard of at least one if they were within five miles of a televison during the Games. No need to go over them. Instead, let's talk about Australia.

Listening to NBC, you'd think Australia hired out the network to take charge of the country's public relations. Americans (and any other nations afflicted with NBC coverage) were supposed to believe that Australia and Australians were just good boys and hottie chicks who don't do Mean Things.

Oh sure, NBC paid lip service to the plight of the Aborigines, even touching on the horrendous episode that was the Stolen Generation, but beyond that, didn't you get the feeling that Australians were being paraded as the World's Nicest Neighbors?

Unfortunately, Australia is populated by human beings. (Of mainly European stock, no less, which pretty much means they're mean bastards from the get go.)


Not Exactly What NBC Wanted to Portray on TV

"[Australia] has made great strides on the racial front in recent decades, but it is showing some distressing signs of weariness from the progress, and a resistance to march onwards.

"In recent months, the Australian Government has ceased co-operating with the United Nations human rights monitors looking into the status of Aborigines and has opposed calls for an official apology for past wrongs. Perhaps catching its reflection in the global glare will force Australia to reconsider these positions."

-- from "The Other Australia,"
International Herald Tribune

No matter how you spin them, NBC, Australians have a real history, one that fucks up your fairy tale.

For instance...
Jim Gray -- who was competing with Bob Costas for the title of Most Annoying Sportscaster Trying on Nonsports Television with his "Dream Deferred" 30-second sound bites -- created some five-minute, candy-fluff story about little East Timor, the point of which was "Australia loves East Timor."

Apparently, East Timor saved Australia from Japanese invasion during World War II, and so the Australians count them as "friends." (Actually, Australia invaded East Timor, then a territory of neutral Portugal, probably prompting Japan to invade East Timor in response.)

As Jimmy pointed out not once, not twice, but three times, the Australians gave the East Timorese a rousing greeting at the opening ceremony because "Australians Never Forget Their Friends."

Of course, Jimmy Gray didn't note that Australia did nothing more than protest when Indonesia invaded and conquered East Timor in 1975 -- in fact, the Australian government shrugged. (So did the USA, for that matter, but that's not the point.) East Timor remained occupied for nearly 25 years, and Australians did not lift a finger to help the East Timorese until the East Timorese had basically chased the Indonesians out themselves.

And that's what you get when sportscasters and sportswriters try to do something other than sports. Lame. I hope Jimmy Gray has himself some friends who'll "never forget" him. He deserves them.



"Fewer and fewer Americans are tuning in to U.S. broadcaster NBC's Sydney Olympics coverage, with the 15th night of taped telecasts drawing the lowest rating yet by a large margin....

"Friday's rating was 15 percent lower than the previous worst nightly rating for these Olympics (on Tuesday).... The rating was 35 percent lower than what advertisers were told to expect.... the cumulative rating for the Olympics slipped to a new low of 14.2 with a 25 share."

-- From "Sydney gives NBC
their lowest ratings
since Tokyo in '64
Sydney Morning Herald

That's what you get for asspoling my Olympics, you bastards.


The Closing Cermony
Dammit to hell, I missed the best part

As the Olympics continued to pour on the sob stories, the useless factoids, the tours of the country side, the endless Kathy Freeman bits, the Greco-Roman wrestling (once was
more than enough), the tiresome "GOOOAAALLL!", the Marion Jones 'Drive-For-Fiveathon,' the midget weightlifters, the unending 'local coverage of local heroes', the fact that the Olympic Torch didn't break during the Opening Ceremony...

I was very done with this travesty that NBC had wrought.

I didn't need to see the Closing Ceremony, and I would have purposely skipped them had I not heard one thing:

Midnight Oil was to play.

And we all know what they were going to play, don't we, because we're an astute audience of this column with cultural capital to spare, aren't we? Beds Are Burning, of course.

Midnight Oil's biggest hit single, it was a concept song in a concept album (Diesel & Dust) that was all about returning Australian lands to the Aborigines.

Anyway, play it they did. Not even NBC, what with their apparent mission to make Australia look good, could do anything about it.

Furthermore, they played in clothing marked "SORRY." Sorry for what? Sorry for the fucked up way the Australians treated the Aborigines, that's what. It's an apology and a recognition for the criminal behavior of the Australian government, which kidnapped children from their families -- and for which the government has refused to apologize.

Well, fuck 'em -- Midnight Oil did a better job than any politician could have done anyway.


Of course, I missed it -- NBC had long chased me away from any hope of enjoying the Olympics. I was out drinking more beer than I probably should have with a friend. It's all your fault, NBC. Asspolers.

Brent Johnson,
October 3, 2000

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