by Katie Baker
“These Olympics have just been a complete disaster,” said a coworker the other day with the sort of learned gravitas that can only be acquired via a force-fed nightly diet of Chris Collinsworth’s zip-up-necked sweaters (stitched, per the suddenly saucy Wall Street Journal, “entirely out of Phil Simms’s hair.”)
Typically I am adept at tuning out the various pontification that goes on around me during the day-Lord knows I can find more than my fill of ill-informed “takes” on “issues” right here online, with the added bonus that on the Internet, nobody knows you’re rolling your eyes-but in this case, for whatever reason, I couldn’t help but react.
“I totally disagree,” I sputtered. “These Olympics have been great.”
There was silence; a minor faceoff. At this point we were both standing because we sit directly across from one another and can’t see over our computer screens otherwise.
“They had that massive mechanical failure at the Opening Ceremonies?” he reminded me and everyone else sneaking glances in our direction. “They don’t have any snow. And uh, a guy died.”
That. Yes. Whoops. I’d been talking more so about, like, the ratings.
Which have surprised me, particularly given the howls of anger reverberating throughout the land regarding NBC’s mine mine mine all mine gimme mine Olympic coverage. (Would you ever have guessed that Deadspin has readers who write in, passionately, proclaiming that “I too am extremely upset with the coverage by NBC. When they completely didn’t show any speed skating last night in prime time I was furious at them”?)
These cries have been matched in their wounded stridency only by those of people who expect such local niche websites as the New York Times to tailor their own coverage in such a way that ensures that no results will be reported until everyone in every time zone everywhere has had a chance to get home from work, pour a glass of wine, and pause 20 minutes so they can fast forward their DVR through the commercials.
“This is not Taliban news, nor TARP news, or even Paula Jones type news,” scolded Matt Gooch of Harrisonburg, Va. Ken Waters of Phoenix, meanwhile, was faced with his own personal Sophie’s choice. “Per usual, I have to basically go on a two week sans NY Times ‘vacation’, and go temporarily dumb, doing so,” he explained. “That’s a lose/lose.” Is it now?
Still, I get it. Some of the sportswriters that I follow on Twitter have, in their quest to be FIRST!, taken to writing things like “SPOILER ALERT: Lindsey Vonn has won the gold.” Which… by the time my eyes have seen and processed the first two words, they’ve probably also gone ahead and seen and processed the entire rest of the sentence, you know?
The good news is that now I can BE one of those Twitterers, because recently I was tipped off to a live feed existing in a cobwebbed corner of the Internet. It was a shadowy transaction during which I was sworn to utter secrecy, and I’m pretty sure that I’m now either on some RCMP watchlist or have joined the Illuminati, or probably both. One sports blogger to whom I recounted my strange experience responded thusly: “Whenever I enter the feed-pirate demimonde, I feel like I’m walking into Rick’s Café, only with less Ingrid Bergman.”
But now I can watch the biathalon live from the comfort of my office chair and at great risk to my ongoing employment! In contrast to Ken Waters’ point above, that is a win-fucking-win. Meanwhile, I just tried to check out Shaun White’s gold medal winning halfpipe run from the other night on the official sanctioned NBC website and spent like three minutes wrestling with stern pop-up messages and plugins that I don’t have the IT permissions to install on my drive.
I gave up. It’ll probably be on YouTube in a few months.
* * *
Perhaps I ought to apologize for my own shameful lack of live coverage of these Games, but some dude has already cornered the market on saying sorry for today. But please, leave my kids alone, and also accept this peace offering in the form of random bulleted thoughts about what we’ve seen and how we should feel about it as we round the halfway point of Vancouver 2010.
â€¢ I may be alone on the planet in thinking this, but I find the snowboarders’ jean-look pants to be a brilliant and meta contribution to the gaper genre. (For some historical background, I refer you to this Bible: “If you ski in jeans, you’re a gaper. If you wear a jester hat, or big, tinted aviator glasses on the hill, you’re a gaper.”)
â€¢ Speaking of pants, Norway decided to go the John Daly route and Rob Walker imagined a terrifying future with a much brighter Brooklyn.
â€¢ Some follow-up thoughts to things we’ve discussed previously: 1) Fortra-West was all set to unload Whistler and some other properties like evil Stratton at a public auction to be held today in New York (I wanted to attend! Vail Resorts is said to be interested!) but they got an eleventh hour reprieve and now have a week to come up with $150 million. 2) Ski cross is finally coming atcha on Sunday and you’d be moronic not to watch. 3) Shani Davis won the gold and looked and sounded genuinely happy this time, yay for him! And 4) Sports Illustrated staffers must have been reading all the Lindsey Vonn butt talk with evil glee, knowing that in just a few days they’d have her all up in a bikini.
â€¢ God, I loved Plushenko’s sweet jacket and I even felt a lil’ bad for him when he was sulking on the medal stand, but what a dick: “If the Olympic champion doesn’t know how to jump quad, it’s not men’s figure skating, it’s dancing.”
â€¢ We need to figure out how to advance the field of cryogenics quickly enough so that it’s like, actually working by the time Martin Brodeur ultimately expires. We can’t let him go. The man saved Canada in an overtime shootout yesterday, which is so whatever until you remember that the man is THIRTY SEVEN YEARS OLD and plays a position that involves him hunching over and doing splits all day. I’m completely in awe and I am a Rangers fan.
â€¢ Finally, check out this photo finish in cross country skiing. This is how I look when I enter the apartments of friends who live in walkups.