29 July 2012

London 2012 Summer Olympics

The London 2012 Summer Olympics. It has now come and gone.

When we elect a President of the United States, we have an olympic summer games. And when we elect a Governor of the State of Florida, we have an olympic winter games. It used to be both winter and summer olympics were held in the same year but several years ago the International Olympic Committee decided to stagger the olympic games every two years, meaning that in two years there will be a different type of olympic games (such as the 2012 Summer Olympics in London and the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia).

I got to admit, an olympic games is the best time of year when it happens. For most of us here in America, it means watching the olympic games in the comfort and convenience of your living room (or at the local restaurant showing sporting events including the olympics) on your local NBC affiliate (which, for us here in the Tampa/St. Petersburg area, our local NBC affiliate is WFLA NewsChannel 8; after all, WFLA-TV has been proudly affiliated with NBC since signing on the air in 1955 and was not affected by the Great Tampa Bay TV Affiliate Switch of 1994).

You are probably wondering what is my favorite event overall of the olympics? I like watching the many events that are the olympic games, but what I like the most overall is the medal ceremony when the athletes stand up on the three tiered medal stand and get their gold, silver and bronze medals. After the medals have been awarded, then the flags of the athletes' nations are raised and the national anthem of the gold medal winner is played.

Did I mention national anthems?

You and I know our national anthem, The Star Spangled Banner, is played at every sporting event including Tampa Bay Rays games at Tropicana Field. In fact, in 2005 and 2006 I took several trips to Baltimore including Ft. McHenry, where it all began with a poem by Francis Scott Key which was later set to music and a little over 100 years later was adopted as our national anthem on 3 March 1931 (which, by coincidence, the same date that the State of Florida was admitted into the Union on 3 March 1845 as the 27th state).

However, an olympic games is a learning experience for everyone to learn the national anthems of other countries when their athletes win gold medals. In fact, I'll give you the opening lines to five national anthems that are my favorites and see if you can recognize them: (The answers are towards the bottom of this blog entry)

1. Živé naj vsi naródi, ki hrepené dočakat dan,

2. Lijepa naša domovino, Oj junačka zemljo mila,

3. Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit, Für das deutsche Vaterland!

4. Mexicanos, al grito de guerra, el acero aprestad y el bridón.

5. Rossiya – svyashchennaya nasha derzhava, Rossiya – lyubimaya nasha strana.

Since Interstate 75 terminates at America's northern border in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, here's a national anthem bonus: An extra opening line to a national anthem you and I probably know (hint: You may have heard this if you have attended a Tampa Bay Rays game at Tropicana Field when the Rays take on the Toronto Blue Jays):

6. O Canada! Our home and native land! True patriot love in all thy sons command!

As I mentioned previously, you'll find the answers at the bottom of this blog entry.

As with any olympic games, it comes with criticism and controversy. For instance, NBC has been criticized for cutting away from an important piece of the opening ceremony, claiming that NBC's telecast of the opening ceremony is tailored to an American audience.

What? NBC saying that they can customize an olympics opening ceremony to their own liking? Since the 1992 summer olympic games in Barcelona, NBC has televised practically every olympic games since then. What NBC does not understand - to this day - is that the olympics is an international event featuring athletes from various countries around the world, not a domestic American sporting event such as a football (as in NBC Monday Night Football) game. Perhaps NBC can show some respect for the solemness and international character of any olympic games' opening ceremony by not cutting away to their own liking.

That's the criticism that I have been hearing on Wikipedia as well as several news outlets on NBC's coverage of the 2012 London Summer Olympics opening ceremony. Now I have more items of criticism on NBC's coverage of the 2012 London Summer Olympics:

1. NBC going overboard - in fact, way too overboard - on the phrase "we'll be back right after this". I know, NBC depends on advertising to pay the big bucks for broadcast rights to the 2012 London Summer Olympics, but to the American audience like me, "we'll be back right after this" is way too annoying.

To the folks over at NBC, you paid so much big bucks for the rights to carry the 2012 London Summer Olympics. As such, be respectful and give the American people an olympic games that will be remembered for years to come, not peppered with two to three minutes of olympic coverage and "we'll be back right after this" hodgepodge. Moreover, you got so much olympic coverage on not only your flagship NBC broadcast network but on your other networks such as MSNBC, CNBC and Telemundo, there are still a good number of Americans that do not have cable or satellite service, opting for the traditional rabbit ears in order to cut costs, so keep that in mind.

2. Just before the end of an olympics telecast (usually before the evening news), NBC has to air a useless disclaimer stating that the olympics telecast is copyrighted and that any reuse whatsoever is prohibited. To make matters worse, the disclaimer is announced in a fast, yet aggressive tone of voice.

Come on, NBC. As you are the exclusive broadcaster of the 2012 London Summer Olympics for us Americans, please give us an olympics that we can remember long after the closing ceremonies are done. From what I understand, ABC never did this when it had the broadcast rights to the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympics. (Besides, ABC's coverage of the summer olympics was much better back then). You don't have to pepper each and every one of your summer olympics telecasts with your useless copyright disclaimer voiced over by an announcer going 90 mph in a 70 mph zone - instead, air it as a text disclaimer only at the end of each telecast and you'll please the International Olympic Committee well.

3. NBC using the Olympics as a testing ground for previews of the upcoming fall TV season. For example, NBC did plenty of collateral damage to the telecast of the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Summer Olympics by airing a preview of one of NBC's new shows set to premiere this fall, Animal Practice. Plenty of viewers were outraged over NBC's decision to cut away from a crucial part of the olympics just to air a preview episode of what's coming up this fall, according to this CNN report on NBC's olympic closing ceremony coverage.

After seeing NBC's coverage of the olympic closing ceremony, it is very clear: NBC's telecast of the London 2012 Summer Olympics was by most disrespectful in my book. NBC frequently and often cuts away for commercials (such as the "we'll be right back after this" boondoggle), NBC has a studio announcer that airs the olympic copyright disclaimer like if he is going 90 mph in a 70 mph zone on the Alligator Alley section of Interstate 75, and now NBC using the olympics as a testing ground for previews of upcoming fall shows. To the folks at NBC in New York, please show some dignity and respect for the solemness (especially the opening and closing ceremonies) and the international character of the olympic games, especially when you televise the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.

So to say, it gets better each summer olympics (as well as each winter olympics too) but NBC can better improve its broadcast coverage. Perhaps NBC should consider sending the liner "we'll be back right after this" packing and give us Americans more quality out of an olympics telecast. The majority of us Americans have cable and we pay for it, but there are a substantial number of people who elect to receive their local NBC affiliate by means of the traditional rabbit ears; perhaps NBC should consider that we Americans are glad that we don't have to shell out money every year for a television receiver license, which is common in most European countries including the home of the 2012 London Summer Olympics, the United Kingdom.

Besides, the United Kingdom - especially the BBC - is very serious about these annual licensing fees if you live there and own a TV set - even a laptop computer!

Sure, I would like to view an olympics up close and personal; unfortunately, it costs way too much green (American Dollars, that is). Not only tickets are expensive (especially for many events, much more than a Tampa Bay Rays game at Tropicana Field), accommodation in the greater London area during the summer olympics is super top dollar not to mention airfare from Tampa (via British Airways' direct service to London Gatwick). But I can do the next best thing: Watch the olympics on my NBC affiliate, WFLA NewsChannel 8 (delivered by Bright House Networks), in the comfort and convenience of my big screen TV hooked up to my HDTV digital box.

Earlier I gave you the opening lines to the five national anthems that I mentioned earlier in this blog entry. As promised, here are the answers to those opening lines plus the bonus opening line as I mentioned:

1. Slovenia (Zdravljica)
2. Croatia (Lijepa naša domovino)
3. Germany (Deutschlandlied)
4. Mexico (Himno Nacional Mexicano)
5. Russia (Gosudarstvenny Gimn Rossiyskoy Federatsii, the National Anthem of the Russian Federation)

And our bonus anthem you probably already know:

6. Canada (O Canada)

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