Like a person who still puts the “is” in their Facebook status updates, NBC’s Winter Olympics coverage is ball-itchy annoying. And by ball-itchy annoying, I mean the type of itch you get on your balls that you can’t scratch because you’re in public.
In less than a few hundred characters, NBC’s Winter Olympics coverage IS horrible. Which is kind of like saying that the tetanus shot you received to treat the rust in your system from the knife wound was painful. Because as we all know, the Winter Olympics (the JayVee Olympics, as I call them) are barely tolerable to begin with. And then Bob Costas comes along and makes it worse.
Unless you’re a ski bum or really, really enjoy figure skating, where’s the appeal in the Winter Olympics? Three-quarters of the world couldn’t care less about this two-week event. Snow? What the hell is snow?
I’m a firm believer in the self-righteous nature of individuals, and there is perhaps no greater self-righteous rite of passage than the fan-dom of the Winter Olympic games.
In my mind, people enjoy the idea of the Olympics moreso than the actual games. They like the thought of national unity, international harmony. They enjoy the camaraderie, the competition, the patriotism. And most of all, they embrace the spectacle of the ceremonies.
But at the same time, people treat these games like a Sunday service. They pay homage because they are supposed to pay homage. They sit and watch the biathlon, in spite of the fact that on any ordinary day, the biathlon would mean nothing to them. They convince themselves of the importance of landing a triple salchow because, well, Scott Hamilton said that landing this triple salchow would be important.
Self-proclaimed hardcore fans of the Winter Olympics are the absolute worst. They flaunt their fanaticism like a liberal college student who just voted for the first time (“I just voted. Did you vote? You should really vote. Our forefathers fought for our right to vote. You should vote. I voted.”), or a dieter who figures that the only way she can stick to her diet is by telling the whole world on Twitter that what she ate for dinner was the best meal ever (“Just ate a GR8 green salad with a wonderful cinnamon rice cake for dessert! Yum! Now time for a run around @Greenlake!”). You can take your fragile state of mind and shove it, homes.
Fact is, I’ve committed the ultimate writing faux pas by starting this column about one thing (NBC’s coverage of the Winter Olympics) and, three paragraphs in, going off on a tangent in another direction. So like a really good stand-up comedian would do after a rant that seemingly leads nowhere, leaving everyone in the audience to wonder when and where the punch line will be, here comes a really good transition to get us back on the right track. Are you ready? Here it comes. Next paragraph.
So what this really means is that in spite of the fact that we’d all like to bitch and moan about NBC’s Winter Olympics coverage because we all love to bitch and moan about stuff to get us through the day, what we really should be whining about is our attitude towards the Winter Olympics as a whole. Because let’s face it, we care as much about cross-country skiing, on three-hour tape delay or not, as we do midday Public Access programming. Which is to say not that much at all.
You see, Bob Costas might make a forced experience less tolerable than it already is, but he certainly doesn’t take the moment from enjoyable to unenjoyable. Because it was unenjoyable from the very beginning, and we watched it like lemmings, soaking it in because the nation – nay, the world – shoved it down our throats like brussel sprouts when we were kids and said, “Here, eat this, you’ll like it, it’ll make you grow big and strong.”
Bullshit, the average height among American males is 5’9″ and we all ate vegetables we didn’t like growing up, and the nation has an obesity problem for God’s sake, and if anything, we were simply fed lies. Lies. As children, no less. By our own mothers.
We watch the Winter Olympics because we’re supposed to watch the Winter Olympics. We feel unpatriotic turning on a rerun of Family Guy when alpine skiing is going down, even though Peter Griffin might teach us more about America than Bode Miller ever could.
And at the end of the day, after we’ve sat through hours of Olympic programming, we can pat ourselves on the back and say that we did something good. We did it for the nation. Like raising a flag outside our door on Flag Day. Only more time-consuming and with Al Michaels providing commentary.
Because there are just some things out there that we have convinced ourselves to like, or at least to deal with. Carlos Mencia was one. The music of Creed was another. And finally we have the Winter Olympics, the black sheep in the family that we still buy Christmas gifts for, out of the goodness of hearts.
Yes, it isn’t always pretty, and it certainly isn’t all fun and games. But it’s our country. It’s the world. NBC is there. And like an episode of Frasier, we’ll treat it like must see TV, obliging to watch it because our brains say yes, even though our hearts say no.
The Winter Olympics, folks. They are what they are.