I know it is hard

After hours of broadcasting the Olympics and commenting on events, your brain must deflate. But surely you can still do better than:

“She needs to avoid making mistakes and do her best.”

No! Really?

I hope for better during the track and field events.

Maybe we’ll hear:

“He wants to run as fast as he can!”

Or maybe,

“If only she can jump higher than the rest of the field, she’ll take home a medal, Jim.”

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Mariana says:

    Living in Scandinavia you at least get expert commentary by real enthusiasts – and no commercials, as the Olympic Games are on the public broadcasting companies!

  2. NescioQuid says:

    I’m a fan of the commentary here in the UK, I always learn so much from it all. My one gripe would be with the BBC’s camera footage – some of it has been really choppy and confusing, scores not given on time, for example, gymnastics, quite uncharacteristic of their usual fluency. I wonder whether this is because they are using the OBS’s (Olympic Broadcasting Services) footage. The cycling coverage was also a case in point. When people complained, the BBC said in a statement that host broadcaster OBS provided pictures to all global rights holders.

  3. Kerry says:

    My roommate and I, watching television coverage of the Big 8 track finals in @ 1970, (we were distance runners not competing that year, watched a sports announcer stick a microphone in the face of our sprinter Mel Gray and ask, “Mel, youjustwonthe100yarddash, and inafewminutes youaregoingtobe runningthe220, what’sthebigdifference betweenthesetworaces?” (He talked very, very fast.) We saw his answer coming. He paused, and said, “120 yards”. The announcer didn’t know whether to s#$% or go blind. Sports announcers. Heh.

  4. Southern Baron says:

    Then there was John Madden, “At the end of the day the team with the most points is going to win this football game,” or some such.

  5. I lamented this a few days ago when some woman was interviewing Michael Phelps and asked him, “So which Michael Phelps will we see tomorrow, the one who lost [this race] or the one from four years ago?”

    There is so little intelligent interviewing nowadays in the MSM.

  6. robtbrown says:

    Jeffrey Pinyan says:

    I lamented this a few days ago when some woman was interviewing Michael Phelps and asked him, “So which Michael Phelps will we see tomorrow, the one who lost [this race] or the one from four years ago?”

    Was it Andrea Kremer? She gave us this gem. In the 4 X 200 freestyle Phelps swam anchor and was given a consider lead. The US won, but the lead was smaller than when Phelps began. So he broke the career medal count. In the interview AK congratulated the other 3–who had just won an Olympic gold medal–on having been part of Phelps historical performance.

  7. robtbrown says:

    Should be: Andrea Kramer

  8. robtbrown says:

    I guess I had it right the first time. It’s Kremer.

    Anyway, what she did is commonly found in US sports journalism, which is more interested in star coverage in reporting on the sport and performance. It’s all part of the celebrity worship society.

  9. NoTambourines says:

    “If we do not succeed, we run the risk of failure.”

  10. Sissy says:

    I think this inanity is a feature of the 24/7 news cycle that emerged with cable. How many times an hour can you conduct the same 30 second interview and still sound fresh and original? Given how media savvy and well-prepped by media handlers the professional athletes are nowadays, what are the odds they are going to tell you anything that would actually be “news”? [I count most Olympic athletes as professionals; training is their full-time job]. On the other hand, athletes’ moms sometimes make news; did anyone hear what Ryan Lochte’s mother had to say about his dating habits? Ugh.

  11. disco says:

    @southernbaron. In Madden’s defense, he said that the team to score more touchdowns would win the game. An idiotic comment to be sure, but five field goals beats two touchdowns with extra points.

  12. And there was another female anchor who said something along the lines of, “I have to ask this, because it sounds sexy, …”

  13. frjim4321 says:

    I just turn down the sound and watch the picture.

  14. wmeyer says:

    Sissy: With respect to the 24/7 coverage of “news”, I agree. Journalism has not actually been practiced in this society for quite a long time. The newspaper people are campaigning for the Dems; the television and radio people, for the most part, are talking heads. I say that as someone who spent close to 40 years in broadcasting (engineering, thank you, not the on-camera sort).

    When viewing any sports event on television, I am afraid that many, perhaps most, of those talking are former athletes of varying degrees of skill, people who in the past would have supplied “color commentary”, as sidekick to an orally skilled commentator. However, as the intellectual skills of the society have declined, TV has adapted, always the panderer, by providing these ex athletes as the primaries. Bob Costas is the exception who proves the rule.

    The sort answer is, we go to TV for the visual, and very much less for intellectual stimulation. Especially in sports coverage. Don’t get me started on what passes for comedy.

  15. Sword40 says:

    Sorry, not an Olympics fan. Never have been, never will.

  16. Charles E Flynn says:

    My favorite explanation from coaches for why their team lost: “They outplayed us.”

  17. GrogSmash says:

    The question I’ve heard the most over the years, is something like: “Coach, tell me, what’s the key for your team to win the game?” For once, I’d love to hear them respond with: “Well (insert name here), I think the key is to score more points than the other team.”

  18. robtbrown says:

    should be: in star coverage THAN in reporting

  19. cpf says:

    My personal favorite is the mis-use of the word “literally”.

    Heard just the other day while watching Olympics: “She is LITERALLY a rock!” No. No, she’s not.

  20. Horatius says:

    “Failed to medal.” Never mind that “medal” is not a verb. It’s the meanness of the expectation and outlook that really disgusts. Small wonder so many of the athletes are poor sportsmen. The media vultures swarming them day and night can have their prey living or dead.

  21. pelerin says:

    My favourite was a BBC Sports commentator who once said ‘The front wheel crosses the finish line closely followed by the back wheel.’ Talk about stating the obvious!

  22. MarylandBill says:

    The really sad part is, you think the commentators who are former athletes would be able to give better comments.

    And actually, I would have thought that the olympics would be great for the 24 hour news cycle since there are so many things happening all at once. Of course in the USA, NBC doesn’t really care about a sport unless the Americans are serious medal contenders. I haven’t seen any handball or field hockey… and I doubt I would have seen any fencing if Americans hadn’t made the semi-finals in a couple of team events. What really got me the other night was the 20 minutes NBC devoted to a retrospective of the 1996 olympic women’s gymnastics team. All due respect to what they achieved, but really, when there are so many sports not being covered, do we really need to work that hard to keep people focused on one of the American glamour sports?

    I enjoy the olympics… but I always wonder if many of these athletes really have twisted their lives and priorities all out of whack to achieve their goals.

  23. What’s really terrible is when you can predict, from the particular time that it is broadcast, whether the USA will win the match or medal. E.g. beach volleyball, if it is on the television at, say, 30 minutes till the hour or the end of the broadcast, you know that the team will win in 2 sets; if the USA wins the first set then you automatically know that they win the next set and match. NBC seems to be really failing with their broadcasts – time delay, not showing different sports or different countries’ athletes, and I get really tired of the feel-good stories!

  24. AnAmericanMother says:

    I’m not sure where they get these commentators.
    There were two for the cross-country phase of the Three-Day Event. The female commentator was obviously a rider (or a big fan) and knew her business, giving intelligent analysis of the course and the competitors.
    But the man . . . oh, my goodness! He had no idea what on earth he was talking about, but he just kept rambling on saying stupid stuff, even when he was obviously reading off a cue card. The last straw for me was when he mangled the pronunciation of “Trakehner” — a popular (and handsome) warmblood breed. Somebody corrected him off camera, because he came back after a break and pronounced it correctly, but can’t NBC do better than that? I don’t speak a word of French and I’m not sure of the correct pronunciation of “Selle Français” (a French warmblood), but before I sounded like an idiot on international TV I would call a French-speaking friend and check. Or ask any Frenchman who happened to be hanging around the warmup paddock. (Google tells me that it’s CELL fron-SAY. How hard was that?)
    Sometimes it’s probably a good idea to say, “Let’s watch this horse and rider through the water series” and then just sit back and WATCH.

  25. wmeyer says:

    AAM: NBC could do better, but first it would have to be a concern to them, which it clearly is not. I noticed the glaring differences in pronunciation of the Chinese swimmer He Zi’s name, probably because my wife is from China. The gentleman announcing the swimmer got it right: Huh Dzeh; the woman commentating (Kremer?) did not: Huh Zee.

  26. AnAmericanMother says:

    Well, I would certainly be caught out with Chinese pronunciation! (but if I were on live TV I would find somebody who knew and ask – especially when it seems pretty likely that the young lady is going to win a gold medal!)
    I would be a lot less annoyed at the pronunciation mishap if it weren’t the culmination of 45 minutes of cluelessness about the event the dude is supposed to be commenting on!
    The only thing I can imagine is that he’s some sort of rising star at NBC and they wanted him to have some face time.

  27. wmeyer says:

    AAM: I would, as well. I can usually come close, but more often than not, I simply ask my wife. In days gone by, the network public affairs staff would have produced a list of pronunciations. These days, maybe not, or the talking heads just don’t care.

    Language issues are interesting. My wife just prepped the Rosary for a friend of ours, for addition to his iPhone app. In both Simplified Chinese and Traditional. I was surprised at how much work it took, but there were many issues. Online texts were in need of checking and correction. Excerpts from the Catechism were not readily available in Chinese. And further, most of the online Chinese texts are written by Cantonese, not Mandarin speakers. Quite an adventure….

  28. irishgirl says:

    Since I have no functioning TV (use it only to watch videos and DVDs-not connected to cable), I haven’t watched any of the Olympics. I can only get basketball (and only when the Americans are playing), and then a late-evening ‘wrap-up’, both on radio.
    I’m old enough to remember the really class-act sports broadcasters such as Jim McKay of ABC. Who can ever forget his sterling coverage of the tragedy in Munich ’72, when he sadly looked at the camera and said, ‘They’re all gone’?
    These guys knew when to ‘shut up’ and let the pictures do the talking. A prime example of this was when the US ice hockey team won against the Soviets in 1980 in Lake Placid. After Al Michaels uttered the immortal words, ‘Do you believe in miracles? YES!!!’, he and his analyst partner Ken Dryden went silent and let the images and the joy inside the ice arena say it all.
    Today’s sportscasters should take a cue from the veterans of long ago! Less is more!

  29. irishgirl says:

    Should have said, ‘Some of today’s sportscasters’. A present-day ‘class act’ is Bob Costas of NBC.
    He always has the right words to say!

  30. acricketchirps says:

    I’m always interested to know what ‘percent’ they are giving during the match/race/contest. I’ve found usually about 110 is required to take home a win or medal.

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