Despite the official hypocrisy, the dodgy television coverage and the lack of gold medals, Peter Wicks is huge fan of the Olympics.
It only comes once every 4 years, is it any wonder we all go a little Olympic mad?
There have been a few things that have made me scratch my head in wonder this time around, so I thought I'd rattle off my current list.
Many have been so disappointed in our results so far, that they are looking to point the finger of blame already. John Coates, in Sunday’s paper was blaming the usual target for everything, Julia Gillard. What a surprise that was, I had been wondering how long it would take before someone tried to blame her.
I am still waiting for Abbott to find a Carbon Tax link, but I'm sure it will eventuate. Maybe it will arrive by boat?
Apparently, it is due to funding that our PM gets the blame. It seems, if only she'd found a few more bucks to dish out, our swimmers would have swam faster, we would have been able to oil the wheels on the cycles, feed the horses, and our runners could have afforded running shoes instead of thongs.
I'm not a total idiot, just a bit, so I do understand the need for some funding, however, is this really how we address things? Blame government funding? If only someone had thought to challenge the Governments funding decisions in the High Court or something. Clive, Twiggy, Campbell, anyone...?
Maybe this is just a way of blaming our coaches? Saying we could have paid more for better talent? Whatever it is, it doesn't wash with me. All our athletes had the best of equipment and facilities — sometimes we just have to admit we aren't the best at everything.
The coverage on Channel Nine has been rather less than brilliant. It seems there was no risk whatsoever of ever seeing enough of any event at once to get addicted to it. This is rather annoying if Channel Nine drops it's guard and shows more than 2 minutes of something at once, allowing you to get all involved in the event.
So bad, in fact, has been the coverage, I at first thought that maybe the person in the control room was having some sort of fit and just pushing buttons wildly. In between two incredibly close ad breaks, you would get to see shots of the hockey, the swimming, the basketball, and a bit of equestrian also. Then between each of these seemingly 10 second clips, you get a minute of Stefanovic telling us we are going to change venues now — almost as if, without his valuable input, we would not have known the difference between a hockey field an a swimming pool.
It seems to me the ad's for Underbelly "Badness" (surely the lamest title ever for a TV show) last longer than the continuous coverage of most events. That, and the other upcoming show with what seems like the cast of all the other Underbellys. You know, the one that seems like it thinks the idea of a "Mr Mom" is a new idea?
For sporting events, you know, like the Olympics, I thought it might be a novel idea to have sports commentators involved also. Stefanovic may be great at giggling like an idiot when “tired and emotional” on air, but that does not make him a sports commentator. Neither does an AFL background or hosting a game show an expert make. If we don't have an Australian expert, let's get someone else's feed, it can't be that hard.
Here is one enlightening piece of expert commentary I heard last night during the womens’ marathon. When a breakaway group formed and took a bit of a lead, viewers were wisely informed that the competing athletes behind them still had two legs and two arms. Well, strap me down and call me Nancy, I would not have known that — I was certain some had six.
I imagine that picking up the television rights to the Olympics must be a pretty big deal, and boy are 9 making the most of it. Considering the time difference with the UK, and how there are so many events, over the weekend there is the chance to get extra ratings by showing events that were not shown previously, and replays of highlights at an hour when most aren't in bed. With the Gem digital channel also, they can even show double the coverage. And with Gem being a high definition channel, they should be able to really display the wonders of modern technology.
On Saturday, I plonked myself down on the couch, grabbed the remote, and hit the number 9 button, ready for a bit of Olympic action. Alas, there was a NRL game on instead. "Bummer", I thought, but I also understand that due to contractual obligations, Nine probably had to show the NRL.
"No problem", I thought, "I'll just switch over to Gem and watch the coverage there instead". But again, only disappointment awaited.
You are probably thinking there was something important on Gem, right? A breaking news story, a movie length version of an ad for Farmer Wants a Wife — you know, brides diving off diving boards, etc. Unfortunately not, the programmers at Nine, in their wisdom, thought we would rather watch re-runs of Bewitched. How thoughtful.
So they did the same on Sunday too.
Mind you, I always admire the brilliance of the programmers on most of the commercial networks, running repeats of old 70's shows on the High Definition channels. Way to show off technology fellas.
What planet are these people on?
Kristina Keneally, the former Premier of NSW, has also become involved in what was an odd Olympic moment.
Kristina, in her new role as head of Basketball Australia, was forced to make one of the toughest decisions she will ever make, despite being fresh on the job. You see, it seems someone – whom I will refer to as brain dead – made a bit of a balls up when booking the team flights to the UK.
The Men’s basketball team were to fly business class, and the Women’s Basketball team were to fly economy. Nice one. Luckily, Keneally was going to have none of that, and promptly organised upgrades for the gal's.
What sort of clown would book economy for an Olympic basketball team anyway? Basketballers of either sex are not exactly known for their short legs.
It's not all bad news though. I was thrilled to see the darling of the pool, Libby Trickett getting her picture in the paper firing a handgun. Libby and others were pictured blasting away with loaded pistols at a shooting range as part of a 2007 team building exercise. Apparently, thanks to budget cutbacks from Julia Gillard, the team building exercise of nuclear weapons testing had to be scrapped this year, due to costs.
Still, I think it's great for swimming to see our competitors blasting away with loaded firearms. It lifts the public perception of the sport, it boosts morale and it enhances the image of the sport overall. Awesome stuff and it was a wise decision in 2007 by officials and organisers indeed.
What really lets us all down though, is when a couple of members of the team go and ruin it for everybody this time around. Having their photos taken posing with unloaded guns in a licensed gun shop is just not on.
When will these bad boy swimmers like Nick Darcy ever learn? Swimming should not be associated in any way with death, or weapons of any type at all, in fact.
If you don't believe me, just ask The Thorpedo, or The Missile Magnussen.
If only they could find a better way to express themselves like some of our other swimming greats. Smashing up your apartment in a drunken rage and scaring the crap out of your wife and kids, forcing them to flee in fear for example, that's cool. That will get you a gig in the official commentary team.
Oddly enough, our Olympic shooting team have stayed silent on the matter. Maybe there are concerns one of them may have been photographed in a pair of togs. If a picture like that were to go up on Facebook, it could bring the sport of shooting into disrepute.
Still, despite the hypocrisy, the dodgy coverage, and the lack of gold medals coming our way, I can't help but be hooked by the games. They are seriously addictive stuff.
There are, however 2 vital elements missing...
… Roy and HG
Is that really too much to ask?
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia License
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independent journalist, michaelwest.com.au