And just like that, a little more than two weeks later, another Olympics has come and gone.
Rio played out a lot like Sochi – corruption galore, and an ever-growing possibility that the hosts may not complete venues on time. Upon arrival, athletes were greeted with half-finished living quarters, and there was a healthy dose (pun intended!) of drug talk, as it became clear Russia’s anti-doping body forgot about the whole “anti” part. The Olympics, always portrayed as a celebration of sport and the world coming together, was again revealed as the money-making monolith that it is.
And then… the Games started, and they were fun.
Observations from the Olympiad
A triumph for Canadian television.
I doubt the average Canadian watches much CBC anymore. CBC’s lost nearly all of its sports, has few notable shows (is Road to Avonlea still on?), and stripped to the barest of bones by our previous governing regime. Obviously CBC can’t compete with the major American networks. Except, of course, at the Olympics.
For those of you who know me, I’m often critical of sports media, but CBC’s Olympic coverage is good nearly across the board. All the hosts – Ron McLean, David Amber, Andi Petrillo, and Scott Russell – are sharp. They do a nice job of bouncing between interesting sports (it’s also a big perk that TSN and Sportsnet provide coverage as well). The focus is Canadian, but not too Canadian. And if you’re into some of the more unique sports, like ping pong? Log-in online; it’s free, and you can watch nearly anything. Most of the event-specific broadcasters are solid, and Scott Oake remains the gold standard for sideline reporting (take notes, everyone else… he gets in trouble once in a while, but it’s because he asks real questions rather than “tell me how you feel”).
Nothing highlights the contrast between CBC and NBC more than the Olympics premiere event, the 100M sprint. After watching Andre De Grasse claim bronze and Usain Bolt cruise to another gold, I flipped it over to NBC to see the American take.
“Coming up next… a preview of the 100 meter mens….. semifinals.”
With nearly immediate news, does NBC really except people to avoid sporting results for hours? And further, I understand re-watching a (short) event if, say, an American athlete wins, but who would re-watch an event that ends in defeat? Were Americans tuning in to their women’s soccer quarter-final six or seven hours later, knowing the team had lost?
As for CBC, with Canadian patriotism flowing, they topped it off with a live, commercial-free Tragically Hip concert.
Ryan Lochte, Ugly American.
One of the more amusing sub-plots of this year’s Olympics was American swimmer Ryan Lochte, who concocted a story about being robbed only for it to be thoroughly debunked. Lochte is best-known for being a bit of a dim bulb, but his unravelling has been particularly funny at this Olympics.
Rule of thumb: if you have a scandal brewing, and people are starting to ask questions – don’t double-down on the lie. Go full mea culpa. “I’m an idiot, I screwed up, I’m sorry.” And the story goes away in a day or two.
Lochte reminds me of Steve Carell playing a stupid guy.
Stars are born.
Like most patriotic Canadians, I was thrilled to see Penny Oleksiak and Andre De Grasse make their mark on the Olympics (combined, they were responsible for 7/22 of Canada’s medals). Having two young stars in sports that people care about is exciting news, made even better by the somewhat surprising nature of both of their successes and the assumption they’ll both be at many Olympics to come.
I thought De Grasse was of particular interest, as he competes in a sport with, oh, lets say a checkered drug history, and strolls up at a very normal 5’9, 155 lbs.
- For all the progress Canada has made in the pool and on the track, we’ve taken a huge step back in rowing/kayaking.
- Men no longer wear headgear for boxing, but women do… why?
- I’m in the minority here, but I love traditional volleyball and loathe beach volleyball. Watching the six-a-side indoor game showcases amazing athletes who have tremendous rallies and coordinate elaborate set plays. Beach volleyball is just a bunch of three hit rallies featuring skimpily attired women and less skimpily attired men (my friend Kurtis and I go into this on Episode 23 of our podcast).
- Sports that can go away: BMX Racing, Shooting, Sailing
- “Sports” that can go away: Equestrian, Synchronized Swimming