The Winter Olympics — thanks, mostly, to NBC — have been a crashing bore. For all the bad ratings they’ve been getting, even worse have been earned. Now they’re talking about how to fix it by breaking what little is left in one piece.
You may have seen some of the idiocy being touted on AOL, such as “athlete confessional rooms” for failures to wail away the hours and a new version of the Olympic Village. Great. Guarantee more touchy-feely junk and make Oprah the ever-present anchor. All this needs is Dr. Joyce Brothers debating Alan Dershowitz about the significance of failure.
Let’s set one thing straight: athletic events are about competition. Winning and losing is what we need to see. I frankly couldn’t care less how many ice skaters fall on their tushes. Nor do I choose to watch any “athletic” events that are scored subjectively. Anything that includes “style points” in determining the winner isn’t an athletic event. You win athletic events by beating everybody else’s time, or outscoring them objectively. Like in hockey. If you want anyone to watch the next winter games (given the fact that we can’t resurrect Roone Arledge to do the coverage right) there’s only one simple rule to follow: show sports. And three corollaries.
First, move all the ice skating and every other subjectively-scored “sports” to daytime TV. If the people who thrive on this stuff want to watch it, fine. But don’t make me reach for my “A-Team” DVDs by putting ice skating in prime time. And don’t waste my time telling me how some snowboarding acrobat is more stylish than another, why we shouldn’t worry about a French judge or whatever other nonsense goes along with it. If I wanted a soap opera, I’d tune one in. I want ski jumping — the ninety meter hill, please — in prime time. And more speed skating. And ski racing. Lots of it. And please don’t forget the luge and bobsled runs. I want them all, all I tell you.
Second, when some one wins or loses a key event, show the event. When one of our skiers won a gold, the NBC idiots showed the award ceremony that night, and not the ski runs. That was the Olympic equivalent of the Heidi Bowl. Third, if you insist on showing ice skating in prime time, I have the solution. How about combining the hockey games with figure skating? I’d really like to see someone pull off a triple-axel while someone else is trying to cross-check them into the boards.