Choking the Olympic spirit for profit.
I’m violating my first rule. I’m writing angry. But…
I love the olympics. I love sport. And the olympics, still, despite it all, seem to me an incredible distillation of sport’s dedication, intensity, joy, humanity, and drama. Whether it’s the higher order game theory playing out in the biking peloton, the slowly evolving drama of the marathon, the sheer primal athleticism of weighlifting, or the H2O-immersed VO2max test that is the 400m individual medley, I just can’t get enough of it.
But NBC insists on forcibly reminding me at every turn that the Games are also something else. Like college football players, the athletes are mere “content” in a much bigger game. In this case what amounts to a two week utopian experiment in Nationalist Corporatism. A frenzy of metal counts, extractive economics and mind numbing cultural absurdity – where countries are reduced during their introduction to an association with their biggest historical monster.
But you had to wait to hear it because Costa’s idiotic commentary was held on tape until NBC’s $1B worth of sponsors were ready for you to see it: PrimeMonetizationTime. So, a giant fence surrounds the proceedings, put there by the IOC, NBC, and Akamai, where even tweets are controlled and the biggest event on the planet is dribbled out in a maddening temporal shift. But even then we had to endure systematic editing to make sure no one in the Kingdom of TeaMerica might be offended by anything, or bored. It doesn’t have to be this way. This was such a lost opportunity to make it great.
I still haven’t seen the opening ceremony from Beijing (same reasons, same perp), and I missed the one last night too. Well, I didn’t miss it exactly. When my tweet stream started lighting up late yesterday afternoon with visions of giant babies and Voldemort and flying bicycles and all the other British trippiness I ran to my TV. Work can wait, I want to see this! But I was blocked at every turn. Like an Iranian dissident I finally managed via a secret proxy to get a glimpse. But it lasted only a moment before some well-compensated gatekeeper sussed it out and blocked my subversive stream. I couldn’t deal with the asymmetry of the commentary without the thing, so I just shut down Twitter.
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