I am not a sports fan. I don't regularly follow or watch any athletics, but for some reason I will get sucked into the Olympics. For example, I know nothing about gymnastics. I never watch it, but yet I find myself riveted to the Pommel Horse or floor exercises. I think this happens to me because of two factors. One is the sheer bombardment. I like to watch NBC and its related cable channels, and for over two weeks NBC dedicates 12 to 16 hours a day to live or taped coverage. The same for MSNBC, CNBC, which mostly broadcasted boxing, and BRAVO, which mostly had tennis. When it's so much in your face, you can't help but pay a little attention to it. The second factor is something I didn't even consciously realize until a week after the London 2012 Olympics started on Friday, July 27.
On August 1, Barbara Walters was speaking about the Olympics on her ABC talk show The View. She brought up Roone Arledge, the former President of ABC Sports. Arledge was the man who acquired the Olympics for ABC television in 1964 and kept the games until 1988. Walters quoted Arledge when he asked, "Why should I care?" Walters implied that for Arledge the games themselves weren't enough. He wanted to care about the athletes. He wanted personal information like the athlete's background, their problems, their parents, or any private issues, perhaps to build dramatic stories. Walters praised this as Arledge's lasting contribution to the Olympics.
Two days later, on Friday, August 3, Brad Brevet on his Ropeofsilicon podcast complained about this so-called Arledge contribution, all this personal information. Brevet said he just wanted to see the sports. Brevet's co-host on the podcast, Laremy Legal, even mentioned that Debbie Phelps, the mom of swimmer Michael Phelps, received more airtime than even athletes who were breaking world records.
I certainly understand how this could be frustrating for avid sports fans, but being that I'm not but instead a film geek and former theater student, I appreciate the Arledge contribution, the drama behind all the running, jumping, throwing and swimming. It's also why I appreciated this year's opening ceremonies, directed by Oscar-winning filmmaker Danny Boyle. He may not have matched the spectacle of the 2008 opening ceremonies in Beijing, also directed by acclaimed filmmaker Zhang Yimou, but Boyle did tell a dramatic story, three in fact.
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