Monday, August 25, 2008

Now What Should I Do With My Evenings?

OK, so the Olympics are over... now what do I do with my time?
I guess I'll just have to clean the house or something... Oh yes Honey... it NEEDS it!

Watching the Olympics in Germany was very interesting for me. Up until this point I've always watched the Games from within the U.S. borders, and was given the U.S. perspective. This involves being inundated with the emotional pre-made "feel-good" videos about the individual athletes which are designed to bring the viewer closer to the subject of the video, of course with the end effect of wanting that person to win even more than before.

What I actually did this year was shift between two channels the entire time I was watching. On cable we have a station named Eurosport covering a wide range of Olympic events from the European point of view. There were no "feel-good" pieces about any particular athletes, just straight reporting which was of course dubbed into German. The other possibility for me was the local channel which happened to switch each day between two stations. Both of these were German coverage heavy and offered a view primarily on the competitions in which countrymen were competing, complete with the lovely pre-made "feel-good" pieces of course.

Unfortunately the print and broadcast media from every country were focused on events in which their own people were competing. This is of course completely reasonable and understandable, but sadly completely unfortunate.

The result is that viewers in the larger countries didn't get the chance to meet so many cool competitors and learn their stories.
  • Maarten van der Weijden of the Netherlands, a winning open-water swimmer who in 2001 was diagnosed with what was deemed at the time fatal leukemia.

  • The winner of the first-ever individually held gold medal for the country of India, shooter Abhinav Bindra, who is now a national legend.

  • Judo competitor Tuvshinbayar Naidan, never expected to even place, who won Mongolia's first gold medal, which resulted in huge celebrations in his home country.

  • Or Rohulla Nikpai of Afghanistan who won a bronze metal for taekwando, giving his devastated country their first-ever metal. The pride felt by the Afghanis was significant enough that a private TV station made the unprecedented move to show the closing ceremony of the Olympics.
In countries with double digit medalists, it is altogether too easy to overlook how much a single medal can mean to the people of a small country.

Two other stories which touched my heart.
  • Natalie du Toit, a South African competing in the first-ever Olympic open water swimming marathon took off her prosthetic leg before jumping in to compete, becoming the first amputee to compete in the Games.
  • Matthias Steiner, German heavyweight weightlifting gold medalist who at the medal ceremony held up and kissed repeatedly a picture of his wife Susann who died in a car accident last year. (yes, I cried... unemotional me)
In countries with dozens of competitors, it is too easy to overlook the triumphs over adversity which happen in each of the athlete's lives.


Diane Mandy said...

Well, this week you could watch the Democratic convention. I'm doing an all-nighter tonight so I don't miss a speech. It's going to be a lloonngg night.

J said...

I completely agree with you. After 2 1/2 weeks of constant Olympics what do I do now?

I also switched back and forth between the channels and also noticed the lack of 'feel-good' stories.

C N Heidelberg said...

I went back and forth about how I felt about the coverage here. I was disappointed to see only bits and pieces of the events when I was used to more thorough coverage of the events that are popular in the US, like diving and gymnastics. But, they showed a wider variety of sports here. And it was just HEAVENLY not to have those schmoopy montages taking up airtime. I like to see the real action, the more the better! So in the end I think I liked Eurosport's coverage more than any other I have experienced.
I didn't get to watch everything d/t travel but my favorite that I did see was Matthew Mitcham, who must be the most endearing Olympic star ever. My poor husband missed his last dive because he'd just gone out to the kitchen, so he just got to hear me going, "OMG THAT WAS REALLY GOOD! OMG THIS AUSTRALIAN DUDE JUST GOT A WHOLE BUNCH OF 10S!!! OMG HE KNOWS IT TOO!! OMG HE'S NOT EVEN OUT OF THE POOL YET AND HE'S CRYING! I LOVE HIM!!!!"