London 2012 from El Salvador

I imagine most of you saw at least some of the Olympic Games.  I understand they were carried by NBC in the U.S.  We saw them on our Channel 4 via the Olympic Broadcasting System…whatever that was.  The announcers spoke in Spanish over the French and English announcers at the various venues.  That was annoying for me because I started to listen in my native tongue and then the Spanish would take over and I’d have to begin again.  Even worse was watching the basketball games.  In most of the events, one doesn’t need much help from an announcer.  You can see how far the javelin flew or who crossed the finish line first.  There are numbers on the screen to let you know if a record is broken.  But in basketball, a game which you can’t see everything that’s going on, when suddenly there’s a break in the action you want to know if someone fouled and who it was.  The announcers are busy talking about Brazil in 2016 and you get no information.  One of them insisted on shouting “triple, triple, triple” every time someone scored a three-point basket.  That’s as obnoxious as the fútbol announcers who find it imperative to shout “goooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooool” or their baseball announcers who need to cry “profundo-do- do- do- do- do- do- do- do- do- do- do- do” when a home run is hit.

I enjoy the emotional expressions of winners, losers, and even those who thought they medaled but were disqualified.  The TV coverage picked up on a lot of that.  I get more of a rush in seeing victory in the Olympics than when my favorite professional team wins a championship.  Whether in individual competition or in team sports, the athlete(s) seem to try harder.  This is not necessarily for some financial gain, although there is lucre to be had, but for glory.  That was the intent of the ancient Greeks and the inception of the modern Olympic Games.

Yet it troubles me that some Olympic sports allow participation by professional athletes, multi-millionaire basketball and tennis players, while other sports such as boxing are restricted to amateurs.  I then considered the residual financial gain offered to a LeBron James or a Kevin Durant.  I’ve read that Michael Jordan has made more from sponsors like Nike and Gatorade than he did from playing basketball.  Players talk about their brand.  Basketball has expanded to other parts of the world.  The NBA may be to basketball what Major League Baseball is to that sport, the professional pinnacle, but the real money is in your brand.  If Chris Paul has clothing to sell or James Harden markets beard trimmers, playing on the world stage in London to billions of viewers opens your sales potential exponentially.  The Games have lost their virginity.

I also learned how out of touch I am with the entertainment world.  Athletes from Tajikistan and Burundi seemed to recognize and sing along with the artists in the closing ceremony.  I recognized the name of Annie Lennox.  I reminisced on behalf of my daughter Jackie the windmill guitar playing and singing of who’s left of The Who.  I was happy for George Michael after all his problems.  And I wept profusely at the sight of John Lennon singing “Imagine”.  But I never heard of the hip-hopper, the  dj, the tiny sex pot whose last name is J, or any of the performers other than Eric Idle of Monty Python fame.

The sound levels for the singers were poor.  It was as if there was no connection between the public address system and the TV.  Everything was off in the distance while the announcer was at his normal level.

I was disappointed that IOC President Jacque Rogge couldn’t spend one minute to remember the Israelis murdered at the 1972 games in Munich.  I was pleased with the Brazilians’ performing in anticipation of 2016 in Rio de Janeiro and especially with the greatest soccer player of all time, Pele.

There is not much that interests me on TV here in El Salvador.  Come to think of it there isn’t much on TV in the U.S. that I had to watch.  Major sports events, “Law & Order SVU”, and “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” are about it.  My kids and I watched sports that even I never heard of or saw.  I had to try to explain bicycle Pursuit by looking it up on Google and translating for them.  I still don’t get how dancing with ribbons flying is a sport.  But it was nice to turn on Channel 4 just about any hour of the day and seeing something exciting.  I can’t wait for the winter games in Sochi in 2014.



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