Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Semi-Obligatory Olympic Talk

In terms of Olympics fandom, I guess I fall somewhere in the middle, with the scale at one end for the people who don't watch any of it, and at the other end, those who watch every minute they can. For the summer games, the only thing I really hate to miss is the women's gymnastics, but there are:

  • plenty of events that I enjoy seeing bits of, even if I don't want to watch hours of it: archery, for instance, or the various boating and track and field events
  • some things that I surprise myself by watching more of, or at least having on in the background, like the cycling road races last weekend...how unlike me; also diving, swimming
  • plenty of events that I don't care to watch at all: basketball, soccer, judo/wrestling/boxing, any sort of volleyball

So, yeah, in the middle somewhere.

As for the coverage, I am not enamored of NBC's repackaged coverage generally, even without the recent news that they intentionally chop it up because the ladies like it that way, gag. I mean, read this:
"The people who watch the Olympics are not particularly sports fans. More women watch the games than men, and for the women, they're less interested in the result and more interested in the journey. It's sort of like the ultimate reality show and miniseries wrapped into one. And to tell the truth, it has been the complaint of a few sportswriters. It has not been the complaint of the vast viewing public."
And tell me what you think of that. My feeling is that a little background can be very informative, especially since I don't know much about most of the sports, but without results, what's the point? The Olympics are about finding out who is the best at what they do. It's not the only point, by far, but it is part of the point. I don't really think NBC is as in touch with the 'vast viewing public' as they think they are.

Anyway, back to me and watching.*  :)  I also get very frustrated by the tape-delays they impose, particularly in this case when Rio is only one hour off my own time zone. [I remember being equally annoyed when the winter Olympics were somewhere far away (can't remember which one offhand) and NBC being all, "We're showing women's hockey live!" and I was all, yeah, great, at 3 AM my time, how convenient.] Thanks to the NBC Live Extra app, though, I can watch some events as they happen, and thus avoid, first, hearing the results before I see a minute of it, and second, not having to sit through all the packaging that they can do when they run things on tape-delay.
*It's my blog! Me me me!

In other words, I watched the women's gymnastics live yesterday afternoon, and didn't have to stay up way past my bedtime to watch just what they wanted to show me. Which was pretty awesome, actually. The things these athletes can do really blow my mind. It's probably the only sport that I'll watch that way, that I actually want to see several hours of. (Even at that, they don't show you every single routine, since there are always four going on at the same time, but they show you a lot, and did go back a few times to show something special that had happened when they were looking at something else.)

Monday night, it occurred to me that I might be able to watch the opening ceremonies on the app, since I didn't stay up Friday night for the whole thing, and I do so enjoy the parade of nations. I went to the app on my old iPad, and to my puzzlement, found that the version there has commentary in Portuguese, instead of the NBC commentary I suffered through in what I did watch on Friday. Out of curiosity, I opened the app on my little tablet (newer, and not an Apple product), and it had the version with the NBC commentary--and that one said that it was over five hours, rather than the three and a half on the iPad version. Huh? I fast-forwarded into the broadcast a little more, and hit a spot where they played seven commercials in a row, which seems nuts to me in an app. Am I out of touch on that? (It never surprises me to be out of touch, but especially with technology.) The app plays a commercial when I open something, before it starts, and it pauses sometimes and puts up a "coverage will resume shortly" screen that I figure is when a commercial is playing, but to show all those commercials? Ah, no thanks.

Anyway, I watched some* of the iPad version, which is pretty funny since the "pre-game show" has plenty of NBC talking heads and interviews with American athletes and things, and they just showed it without sound, didn't dub it or anything.
*And will watch the rest over the next few days, probably.

Once it went to the actual opening ceremony part, the Portuguese commentary started, but that part I admit I mostly skipped over; when I watched last Friday, I found their lighting effects, although very clever, were a little hard on my head, didn't give me a headache but kind of made me feel that way, and I didn't want to go through that again. So forward to the parade of nations.

Which was fun! I couldn't help wondering if I was missing anything by not understanding the commentary, but probably it was more fun to wonder what they were talking about than actually hearing it would have been. I mean, I get why they mentioned Nelson Mandela when South Africa was going on, and apparently one athlete is/was in the NBA, or so I assume from the mentions of the Toronto Raptors and San Antonio Spurs in the sea of Portuguese. But when one of them gave an ay-yi-yi, what was that in respect to? I'll never know.

Other thoughts:

  • It's amazing how many outfits look like the people work in real estate agent/for an airline/at a country club. 
  • For some countries, they all carry/wave little flags, others not, and some carry both theirs and the Brazilian one. A few also carry their full-size flags, and I saw one guy wearing his like a cape.
  • Most of the marchers seem somewhere between pleased and delighted to be there, and I noticed one who was overcome to the point of holding back tears, but I also noticed a few who looked more annoyed, as though they had been in the middle of something important and were dragged out to do this.
  • I don't understand how they put the countries in order. My understanding was that they were marching in by their order in Portuguese, which is why the US came in under Estados Unidos. But doesn't "republic" count? Why did the "ex-republic" of something come in under E, when there were a few republics not coming in under R?

Also, because the iPad is old and prone to closing apps unexpectedly, I had to go back in three times, which is kind of annoying (trying to find where I was). But worth it so far.

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