When my son was a little boy, he and his friends played sports – lots of sports. Often they were spontaneous games at the school yard or back yard.
I noticed that when those informal games took place, the actual playing of the sport took up only about a third of the time. Another third was spent determining the rules – second base is the flat rock by the garage, the fence is a home run, no stealing, etc. And the final third of the time was spent debating various interpretations the rules.
In a way, observing the behavior of those little boys prepared me for watching NBC’s coverage of the winter Olympics – except that they divide the time into fourths.
First, there are commercials. After all, NBC has to try to pay for the programming, although there are reports that they will actually lost money.
Second, there are human-interest features about the lives of the athletes, their dreams, their challenges, their problems, their love lives, how many ingrown toenails they have and what music is on their iPods.
Third, there is expert analysis by people who were in the Olympics years ago or former football players who are excited to be learning about winter sports or announcers with big contracts.
Fourth, sometimes they actually show a sport that is happening when it is happening. But even then, I get more information than I want. For example, I enjoy watching figure skating even though I can barely stand on ice skates. But I really just like to watch the performances and don’t need to be told a particular jump was a little too short or the skater was two degrees too far over on the edge of his skate.
I’m thinking they should run two sound tracks during the skating – one for the experts who want all the chatter and critical dissection of the skaters and another for people like me who just want to have fun. Just play the music for me. I don’t need so much information.
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