Every two years, when the Olympic games roll around, I hear the same complaints on practically every message board:
“Olympic television coverage in the US spends too much time on human interest stories, ann not enough on the sports.”
“Olympic television coverage in the US is too America-centric.”
“Olympic television coverage in the US shows only popular sports.”
“Olympic television coverage in the US is dumbed down, and they explain the rules for everything.”
After one of these comments rolls around, inevitably someone from Seattle, Detroit or Buffalo will chime in and say how much better the coverage is on Canadian television.
I’ve watched Olympic coverage on Canadian television, and it really doesn’t seem like it’s much better than in the US. The production values and associated graphics aren’t as slick, bringing out the argument that the Canadian coverage is more “real”. I see as much, if not more Canada-centrism on Canadian broadcasts than on US broadcasts. There’s a ton of human interest stories on Canadian Olympic broadcasts, too. Also, there’s going to be more explanation and “dumbing down” of sports like curling and hockey in US broadcasts, because throughout much of the US there’s very little knowledge of them, bit for track and field, it’s not as if commentators are saying things like “Let’s explain the 100 meter sprint for our audience; the length of the sprint is 100 meters, or about 110 yards or 330 feet, annd the first to cross the finish line wins. The second to cross ends up in second place. The third to cross ends up in third place, The runners run with their legs and feet.”
There seems to be this belief that in other countries, Olympic television coverage shows obscure sports a’plenty, with almost no flag waving. Is this true, or just another case of the “Everything’s better in Europe than the US” variety of grass-is-greener syndrome?