Friday, August 22, 2008

NBC's coverage failure

Because the US had, for it, an absolutely awful track meet at the Olympics, NBC's coverage of track & field, which usually dominates prime time, has been reduced in these games.

That's why viewers haven't seen 2000 replays of Jamaican Usain Bolt's incredible run in the 100m race (and if you haven't, go find it -- it's worth viewing just to see how he blew away the field and would have had a lower time if he hadn't CRUISED TO THE WORLD RECORD in the last 15-20 meters). He followed that up with a world record in the 200m and won more jewelry as a member of the 4x100 relay winners this morning (US time). If the flag Bolt carried around the track was Red, White and Blue instead of black, yellow and green, we'd be inundated with Boltmania to fill in for the Phelpsathon from week one.

The US has been a second-class country in the races it normally dominates -- sprints. Jamaica has won the men's and women's 100m and 200m races and set a world record in the 4x100 men's relay. The US dropped the baton in both the men's and women's 4x100 yesterday. A US sweep in the 400m men's race received relatively little coverage.

Worse yet, NBC's reduced coverage of the track meet means that one man who unquestionably deserves more air time had his performance relegated to late night replay after men's volleyball. Brian Clay, who won the decathlon this morning, didn't appear on NBC's coverage until sometime in the middle of the night last night, more than 12 hours after day one of the decathlon ended. The decathlon once was a glamour event at the Olympics -- in 1976 it made Bruce Jenner a household name, in 1992 it spawned the famous Dan v. Dave commercials, in 1996 Dan (O'Brien) won the gold for the US and redeemed his 1992 failure (in an infamous bit of idiocy, O'Brien failed to qualify for the Olympics because he failed to make even one pole vault -- he tried to vault a height that was a challenge for him and passed on the opening heights of the competition even though he only needed one easy vault to qualify).

Clay should be a hero and inspiration -- think about the amount of work and training it takes to excel at 10 different track and field events. So tonight we'll see if NBC can atone for its failure to give him the airtime he deserved.

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