Thursday, August 14, 2008

Finally - The REAL Olympics!

You'll be reading all kinds of blogs and commentaries that condemn Swedish Greco-Roman wrestler Ara Abrahamian for throwing a hissy fit after losing the Gold Medal in his weight class in Beijing. All I want to say here is that it's refreshing to see the Olympics as they really are.

Here's the story in a nutshell. Abrahamian lost a wrestling match that he felt was unfairly judged. The winner of the match ultimately went on to win the Gold medal, and Abrahamian had to be talked into wrestling in the bronze medal match, which he won. At the medal ceremony, after receiving his bronze medal, Abrahamian walked off the podium, dropped his medal on the wrestling mat, and walked off, declaring he will never wrestle again. Let's go to the videotape:

Now, I don't condone what this jackass did for a minute, but it's compelling television - and it should have been shown on NBC. Instead, NBC never even mentioned it! Why? Because NBC is protecting the Olympics brand, which it has spent billions and billions of dollars to market.

The Peacock network is running a poor fourth in ratings outside of its NFL and Olympics brands, and it doesn't want to do anything to piss off the International Olympics Committee. NBC has spent so much money to air the games that its sole mission is to spin its coverage with one and only one strategy in mind - to maximize ratings at all costs so it can charge a higher rate for its commercials.

This is why you'll see every feel-good compelling story that NBC can muster... In fact, don't be surprised if NBC tries to get Michael Phelps to suit up and enter the track and field competition as a pole vaulter next week when swimming is done. The network has already been criticized (and rightly so) for soft-pedalling China's human rights record as it spins so many cotton candy stories of China coming out to the world. You should also note that NBC's corporate parent, General Electric, has been using the Olympics as an entree to line up all kinds of equipment contracts with the Chinese government... So don't expect NBC to screw up any deals for GE by showing something that might offend China's elite!

I have enjoyed what I've seen of the games so far - especially the excellent swimming coverage... and who wouldn't love the Michael Phelps story? But give me the WHOLE story, NBC - not just the one that meets your bottom line needs!

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