I do love the Olympics. I did miss the opening ceremonies as I was camping (hey, it is summer time, one has to live a little) but I’ve been watching highlights and tape-delayed coverage at night and the odd live stuff in the morning (and if the truth be told I may check the internet the odd time during the day just to see how Canada is doing, yeah, like I’m the only one).
Anyway I’ll just offer a few observations at this point in the London Games that I’ve noticed during my channel-flipping episodes.
And that’s precisely the first thing, the level of coverage on TV that allows one to witness numerous things at once (although there’s always the risk of annoying fellow television watchers to the point of argument).
Why, just this morning (Friday) before work I was simultaneously watching the Canadian women’s basketball team’s game against Brazil and Roger Federer’s tennis match on two different channels. Thankfully I was alone at the time so I could flip channels to my heart’s content but I managed to witness Canada’s wonderful upset victory and also catch at least the flavour of the tennis match which was great but unfortunately went on so long I had to get to work (damn work anyway), but I heard later that the Swiss legend won, of course.
And at night, the choices are multiplied as there’s CTV, TSN, NBC, NBCHD etc, etc. If you’re not into beach volleyball then there’s rowing on the other channel or gymnastics on the other, literally a smorgasbord of sports.
And, I like how some sports finally get the spotlight during the Games.
It was stirring stuff watching Canada’s Christine Girard win the bronze medal in weightlifting, And Antoine Valois-Fortier come third in men’s judo. Not to mention Brent Hayden’s bronze in the high-profile men’s 100m freestyle.
Their personal stories of how they overcame the odds through hard work, perseverance, teamwork, not to mention performing under immense pressure on the world stage, and maybe a little good fortune (in swimming we’re talking hundredths of a second between medals and, well, not medals) are truly inspirational.
Of course some sports are easier to watch than others. I respect them all but I don’t necessarily know the intricacies of all of them and that’s where the announcers can make or break how watchable they are. I watched the judo but I can’t say it was easy to watch as in my mind I couldn’t figure out how the points were scored, which makes it difficult to know when to cheer or not. But you could chalk that down to my ignorance of the sport as much as anything.
Swimming I understand but I lose track of which swimmer is in which lane very easily, even with all the graphics on TV, which takes away from it a little.
Synchronized diving is beautiful to watch, and my wife likes it a lot, but I don’t totally get it. I understand it’s difficult to pull off but I’m not sure I understand the point of trying to do it at the same time. Then why not synchronized gymnastics or synchronized weightlifting?
Nah, maybe not.
My kids ask me why traditional sports like baseball and golf aren’t in the Olympics. Good question, I think they were demonstration sports at one time but who knows what happens after that. Not enough universal appeal I guess.
That’s another thing about the Olympics. It’s powerful and interesting enough to pull the whole family in and it becomes something we find we’re enjoying and talking about together. Normally our TV viewing patterns are strikingly different, although I can be talked into watching Family Guy on occasion.
And then there’s the patriotic juices that get flowing and draws Canadians, not to mention the rest of the world, into the Olympic fold.
In this fragmented, complex world the Olympics is one of the few things that can actually bring the world together in a positive pursuit of sport.
Well, mostly positive….
—Glenn Mitchell is the managing editor for The Morning Star