Filler Olympic Wrap

The Games And NBC's Coverage Were Mostly Good--But John Tesh's Music Still Sucks.
By Tom Danehy

COMPLAINING ABOUT THE television coverage of the Olympics is the focus of this month's media orgy. It's such an easy target, what with NBC having total rights to the whole thing, providing 10 hours of coverage per day, and then having to go far and wide in search of...oh, a kayak expert, for example.

Danehy Sometimes it seemed that for every good they did, there was an attendant flub. But just so they can make it better in four years (what with their having to do everything from Down Under, plus all the world's computers will have stopped working because Bill Gates and his flaming nerd boys didn't look ahead to the changing of the dates from "19--" to "20--"), I offer this little Olympic viewer wrap-up. Here's what I thought was:

GOOD: Bob Costas

BAD: John Tesh

Costas did a smooth job as main anchor, jumping from one event to another, providing background information, and keeping things in perspective. He was hilarious at times, especially when Australia beat the U.S. in softball with a dramatic two-run homer in extra innings. The Australian announcer called the shot like he was reporting on a funeral ("Oh...and there's a hit out to center. Yes, I think it's a home run. Australia wins.")

Costas added, deadpan, "Tapes of Vin Scully and Harry Carey are being shipped to Australia as we speak to help that guy with his calls."

As for Tesh, he's not horrible; I just blame him for all that New Age music. At least Yanni doesn't show up in public and try to announce rhythmic gymnastics.

Speaking of which, that sport sucks. It looks like a bunch of anorexic teenage girls escaped from the circus. And Tesh tries to make it sound compelling. Just for that, he's not allowed to see Connie Selleca naked for two months.

GOOD: Kerri Strug

BAD: Bela Karolyi

When Kerri Strug landed that vault, I told my kids it was an image that would stay with them for the rest of their lives. It was a moment frozen in time.

A bit earlier, I'd mentioned to my daughter that I hoped Strug would get a chance to shine in the national spotlight, what with her being from Tucson and having labored in the background for so many years. And while I've never wished any athlete bad luck, I wasn't terribly disappointed when Dominique Moceanu unceremoniously landed on her butt twice, setting the stage for Strug.

That was one of the great clutch performances of all time.

As for Karolyi, what a spotlight-grabbing, overbearing, domineering jerk! It's embarrassing for him to wear a United States jacket.

If Bela Karolyi hogged the camera any more, he'd have to put on a rainbow wig and carry a sign which reads, "John 3:16."

GOOD: U.S. winning lots of stuff

BAD: NBC beating that image to death

Hey, I'm partisan. I want the U.S. to win almost all the time. The only time I've ever openly rooted against the U.S. was in 1988 when I wanted the nasty-ass John Thompson-selected American basketball team to bite it in the Olympics. Thompson had cut College Player of the Year Sean Elliott and kept four stiffs from Georgetown. I was disappointed not at all when the Russians slapped them around.

It's like Richard Pryor used to say about sports: "When white people and black folks (compete), I don't want white people to win nothin.' Not even Jerry West."

I want the U.S. to win and I'm glad when an American does, because it reinforces the superiority of our free-market system, which is based on cable TV, high school football, multiplex theaters and spicy curly fries.

However, I think NBC went a bit overboard there. They showed U.S. victories over and over again, then they'd show the crowd, then interview the winners, and then show the national anthem.

I have to say this. Our national anthem is a horrible song to try to sing. In fact the only person who can sing it without messing up is Celine Dion, and she's Canadian. The last thing we need is another Godless Canadian sneaking across the border trying to steal one of our jobs. See, if "America" was the national anthem, we wouldn't have to worry about stuff like that.

Plus, why didn't NBC show other national anthems being played? They couldn't have any worse music than ours. Maybe they're even cool. I'd like to hear Uzhbekistan's. Hey, maybe it's "Louie, Louie."

GOOD: The Olympics, in general

BAD: Juan Antonio Samaranch

I've always liked the Olympics and the idea behind them. Bringing people together for athletic competition appears to have no down side. Diverse people can meet each other, play some games and then go back home with a new respect and understanding for other folks.

Obviously, the Olympics have been over-commercialized and politicized, but I still like the concept and I think they do more good than bad.

Not so their leader, the Spanish fascist Samaranch, who recently said the Olympics are more important than the Catholic religion. As a Catholic, I'm not so much angered as I am amused at the stupidity of that statement.

What's really amazing is that it isn't even close to being the stupidest thing he's ever said. An old crony of Francisco Franco, Samaranch has been spouting Nazi nonsense all over the world for the past three decades. But he's 85 and will likely be joining Franco some time soon.

And the Olympics will go on without him. And Bela Karolyi. And John Tesh, unless he apologizes for that music. TW

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