This guest post is provided courtesy of my husband Peter, a social studies/math teacher at a charter high school in Central California. He is in his 18th year of teaching in both public and private schools in Texas, Arizona, and California; he is also in his third official year of homeschooling. He is a lifelong Catholic, and a talented mineral collector and family historian/genealogist.
I have never liked NBC’s coverage of the Olympics, and it is already painful to watch this time around as well. It is practically tailor-made for people with severe ADD or who only care to watch athletes from other nations when the top foreign athletes make major mistakes. They can’t stay on one event for more than a few minutes, and I am already quite tired of the fact that they have once again hand-picked a group of American athletes to turn into this year’s media darlings, complete with biographical videos and heaps of swooning praise from the commentators even before these “darlings” have won any medals at all. We have plenty of athletes who qualified for these Olympics by working just as hard to get there, but who apparently don’t make such good stories for NBC and hence are pretty much ignored. I keep hoping that Olympic coverage will some day return to sanity and fairness (and, ideally, more respect for the sports themselves and for the actual competition, even though I’m not sure that a few of these “sports” are worthy of much respect), but the John Tesh phenomenon that we were introduced to in 1996 (when we were practically forced to give all of our attention to a small group of athletes who each overcame some newsworthy obstance in a heart-wrenching struggle to get here) is still obviously NBC’s coverage mode of choice.
Back in 1996, NBC’s Bob Costas really annoyed me after one of our media “darlings” was defeated in a swimming final by immediately suggesting that the winner must have been using drugs. To me, that was a ridiculous lack of sportsmanship and journalistic ethics on Costas’ part. Because one of NBC’s favorite athletes lost, the winner must have been doping? Well, about two minutes ago, I heard Costas do the exact same thing again, suggesting explicitly that the Chinese winner of the women’s 200M individual medley may have been “doping” in order to achieve such a fast time (he presented no other warrant for his statement). Oh, he did say that we need to keep an open mind and not rush to judgment, but why did he even raise the possibility – something which he knew would create suspicion despite his disclaimer? Terrible journalism. What I can’t figure out is why NBC plugs Costas into its coverage of literally every sport it covers, despite the fact that he a) isn’t really an expert in any of them, as far as I can tell, and b) doesn’t exactly serve as a very good example of sportsmanship or fairness.