The Olympics (and the newly established P.O.C.)

I love the Olympics. Besides the Misty May-Treanors and Kerri Walshs of the games (mine and Puddin’s girls), I love the contact sports. Judo, wrestling, tae kwon do and boxing. I know it comes as no surprise to any of my readers (all 4 of them) that I love the contact sports given my propensity to clog the blog with articles on mixed martial arts. However, as I stressed in my article on martial arts vs. mixed martial arts, I love the individual fighting disciplines as well.

While I love the all-out intensity and mixed disciplines in mixed martial arts, I appreciate experts in any art. I find the fluidity with which they work, and their devotion to a single discipline very inspiring. And frankly, in spite of the fierce competition and ethnocentricity that comes out in Olympics time, I think the overall message of the Olympics is inspiration.

Take Dara Torres, for example. She’s a 41 year old who has already proven herself as an Olympic swimmer; appearances in 4 prior Olympics, and 9 medals total (and a smokin’ hottie), and yet she’s going back to do it again, to become the oldest woman to ever win an Olympic medal. She has her detractors, and many of them. All many people can say is “performance enhancing drugs”. However, she has given herself up to a ridiculous testing procedure (in addition to all the sanctioned Olympic testing procedures), recently established, to prove to everyone that she’s drug free.

The basic principle of this new testing procedure is that instead of a normal drug test which tests urine or blood at individual points of time, this tests takes samples at various intervals during both training and competition, over longer periods of time, to first establish a baseline level of hormone and other substances, and then they measure all subsequent tests against that baseline. So, the process is much more intense, and could clearly interfere with one’s training and daily activities, but Dara has subjected herself to it because she wants to be an inspiration.

So in light of all this self-sacrifice and inspiration, I could write about intense training the athletes go through, or the skill these athletes display, or any number of other things….but instead, I’d rather address the fact that I will not be able to watch the sports I enjoy, live, because of the idiots at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and NBC.

First, kudos to NBC for getting the contract to broadcast the Olympics, and kudos to them to showing the events on their multiple networks (CNBC, USA, Telemundo). Knowing that they were going to show the sports over four channels, I thought I’d be able to fill up my DVR with the contact sports (and some shooting sports as well), but when I was looking at the TV schedule for the games, I noticed that Judo, for example, has no TV times scheduled at all. At first I thought this was just a mistake, but no, that’s not the case. It’s the same with Tae Kwon Do. There are a few wrestling and boxing matches that will be shown on TV, but only a very few.

To be fair, NBC has a scheduled a ton of live online broadcasts for everything that won’t be shown on TV, but because they’re showing them live, and because of the time difference, if I want to watch Judo, I’m going to have to get up at 3 in the morning on a Wednesday night. What the hell? Granted, I did do this to watch the US soccer team play 2002 World Cup, but to be fair, that was during the summer and I worked as a runner at a law firm during the day and as a manager at a video store at night – not the most challenging of jobs. Now my job is of a bit more importance, so I can’t do that anymore.

Will NBC archive some of this video footage? Sure they will. And was I planning on watching these events on TV live? No, I was going to DVR them. But there is a difference in watching things on my 34” TV as opposed to my 19” computer monitor.

As a quick aside, I generally don’t hate on corporate America, mainly because I whore myself out to them every time I go to Wal-Mart or any of the other multi-national conglomerates I visit on a daily basis, but it bothers me that the Olympics are on a single network. Why not dole out ALL the sports to all the major networks and then they can broadcast everything…..everything.

I guess what bothers me more than having to watch my favorite events on my computer as opposed to my TV is the fact that NBC has chosen to broadcast the usual excessive smattering of gymnastics and swimming (I don’t care about watching dudes in speedos no matter how fast they swim), and synchronized events in both, and God forbid, Trampoline. Trampoline? Are you kidding me? While I wouldn’t necessarily call these people “athletes”, I do recognize the fact that they are very skilled and are in great shape. But seriously – a trampoline?

Seeing this on the schedule made me then ask – how in the world did something like this become an Olympic sport? I checked out the ever-popular wikipedia as well as wikianswers and yahoo answers, and found out that to become an Olympic sport, among other things, a sport has to be practiced by men in 75 countries on 3 continents, women in 40 countries on 3 continents and have an international governing body for regulation. Then, if initially approved, the sport is recognized as a “demonstration sport” in which competitors compete during the Olympics (but not for medals, and they are not recognized as Olympians). Then the IOC has a committee which votes before each Olympics on what sports to include as part of the “programme”. For summer Olympics, there must be a minimum of 15 sports and a maximum of 28. Now, anything that has been previously declared an Olympic sport will remain an Olympic sport even if it’s not included at subsequent games. There are a number of sports listed as demonstration sports on the IOC website; chess, surfing, tug of war, korfball and orienteering. I’ll leave you to your own devices to find out what those are.

So, back to my new favorite sport to hate – trampoline. It was first approved as an Olympic sport in 1999 and debuted at the Sydney Olympics in 2000. Both the NBC website and the IOC website have a list of medal winners and such, but since I hate this activity, the PreView Olympic Commission (POC) will not be recognizing it as an activity, nor recognizing its medals winners. Clearly, the trampoline athletes will be forever crushed when they realize this, and the IOC will appoint me to a determining committee, or at the very least NBC will let me help decide their future programming schedule….or, I’ll just continue ranting and raving on my blog and nothing will happen.

So, about this “activity”, I feel compelled to ask – are there really men in 75 countries on 4 continents and women in 40 countries on 3 continents practicing this activity? And if so, I wonder how long it would take me to go around to all the men in these 75 countries and kick them in the nuts? And taking this line of thought to what I feel is clearly the next logical step – POC will now designate another sport to take the place of the Trampoline “activity”. My first choice would be cornhole; second would be watching people try to avoid having their faces eaten by my dog, Boo – just ask Puddin’ – when she unleashes the fury, she can’t be stopped.

Seriously – there are plenty of gymnastic type sports, tons of variations, and apparently, NBC is broadcasting all of them….and most of the rounds, preliminary and otherwise – why not sacrifice some of the preliminary rounds with the lesser-knowns and show some Judo? Seriously. Further, I think the Olympians who medal in any sport should be recognized, and the “medal rounds” should be broadcasted. I don’t think anybody would mind not seeing the 764th gymnastics ribbon floor routine if they could see somebody medal in wrestling.

However, not all of the blame can rest with NBC. I also blame Beijing. China is a country whose culture is steeped largely in martial arts – and since they’re hosting, they surely have some say on what sports are broadcast, so why didn’t they pick judo and tae kwon do?

Now, I further realize that even though POC is the second most preeminent authority on the Olympics, that not everyone would go along with the suggested POC viewing schedule. However, I know that I’m not the only person who would want to see these events. Not to mention, ESPN broadcasted some of the wrestling qualifying rounds after seeing them triumph on a national level, I’d like to see them triumph on an international level. Oh yeah, and I’m American, and POC is an American based committee – and America has the most overall medals so I, as an American, should be able to decide which sports I would like to view at what time. Right? Right.

So, in an effort to showcase the sports I feel are under-emphasized, I will posting as many videos, or links to videos, that I am able (and legally allowed) to post in hopes of showing everybody else what I love so much. Yet another thing I can do because it’s my blog, and I can do whatever the hell I want. And maybe I’ll write the IOC a letter, and see if I can get the POC established as sort of an anti-governing body, to undesignated sports as Olympic Sports…..Trampoline – look out – you’re first on the list.


By the way, Puddin and GAM are automatic members of POC, if they choose to accept their appointments. Others may send their applications to me. Beware, though, any good application would include a 1000 word essay on why "Trampoline" should be abolished.


GiantAsianMan said...

However, not all of the blame can rest with NBC. I also blame Beijing. China is a country whose culture is steeped largely in martial arts – and since they’re hosting, they surely have some say on what sports are broadcast, so why didn’t they pick judo and tae kwon do?

Really? Do you honestly think that China has ANY say on what NBC decides to broadcast in America? Sure, China may limit internet access and can probably determine where and what can filmed outside of the Olympic venues, but to think that they could have any hand in the events NBC chooses to air (and when they air them) is ludicrous.

NBC's looking for ratings, and that's swimming, gymnastics, and track and field. There was an article recently (I think it was SI's article, possibly ESPN The Magazine) that reported that just over 50% of the viewing audience for the Olympics is made up of women (which is why the Olympics is so lucrative- women watching a sporting event). Women don't want to see contact sports, so if you're looking for someone to blame, start with Eve, not NBC.

As for trampoline... I've got a blog post of my own coming up on this subject (or, at least a related subject) either later today or tomorrow, so all I'll say here is that they are most definitely athletes but what they participate in is most definitely not a sport.

PreView said...

God bless you, GAM, and what I can only hope is your similar disdain for activities like the trampoline. I look forward to your upcoming article. I'm sure it will fit nicely with your position on the POC.

I totally understand what you're saying about the viewing audience being women....ergo, I also blame Eve.

As for my blame of China....I never said it was rational, I just like to point fingers. But I suppose you're right. All the limiting of internet and press access could be symbolic not of their communist past, but instead of a protest since they cannot show what they want. However, I'll still leave some of the blame on them - instead of building their crazy new buildings for the events, they could've just had them in some high school gyms and used the money to pay off NBC to show what they want. I don't think the location of the events would have any effect of the female viewers.

PreView said...

I guess I should also note, even though I'm sure you're aware, that there are women that compete in judo, wrestling, and tae kwon do. While I understand not all women want to see contact sports, given factors like the rise of popularity in women's MMA and women's boxing, I think there are a number of women who would watch the contact sports.

Not to mention I'm sure there are plenty of women out there who, while they may not love contact sports, like to see women compete in traditionally male sports, to show that the women can do it just as well as the men...even though things like the WNBA are a miserable failure in that arena I think sports like the three above could really showcase some women's talents, in spite of the fact that some of the female wrestlers could probably beat up you, Puddin, and me....and look more manly than us doing it.