Monday, April 26, 2021
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NBC Olympics coverage: media misanthropy?

As an anglophile, I couldn’t have been more excited for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. However, witnessing any broadcast from NBC would have made one to believe the Olympiad was hosted right here on American soil.

Beyond the occasional montage of already well-known British tourist attractions, U.S. media coverage paid little attention to triumphs and controversial disappointments affecting not only the U.K., but every competing country.

Big-name broadcasters here imply anything related to the U.S.  is a priority and everything else is just a distraction.

While this may boost a nation’s ego, it also places America in beer goggles, disallowing citizens to empathize, relate and educate themselves on what’s important in other countries. The Olympic rings reflect five colors represented in every nation’s flag, not just the red, the white and the blue.

On July 27, London presented a spectacular opening ceremony, paying homage to historical events, people, inventions and other accomplishments of British culture.  This ranged from best-selling author J.K. Rowling reading a passage from Peter Pan to a nod toward Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of the World Wide Web.

Without Berners-Lee’s invention, Olympic enthusiasts wouldn’t have any knowledge about international affairs in this year’s games.  The first case of omission took place before the competition began.  Within the listless displays of London pride, a more somber mood was espoused.

In 2005, the day after London was announced the host city of the 2012 Summer Olympics, London was scarred by a a subway train and signature red double-decker bus bombing.

A six-minute dance routine tribute contained 52 dancers to represent the number of lives lost in the travesty. The choreography accompanied Scottish singer Emeli Sande’s rendition of “Abide With Me.” NBC broke its streaming of the opening ceremony at this exact moment, prioritizing a needless interview with Michael Phelps facilitated by Ryan Seacrest.

If this sentiment were in reverse, a broadcast giant in another country omitting a tribute to 9/11 or Columbine, it would start an uproar of misplaced patriotism.

In NBC’s opinion, it’s perfectly acceptable to feature the American flag grill of Ryan Lochte, but not newsworthy to cover the groundbreaking inclusion of Palestinian women in certain events.

When South Korean fencer Shin A Lam missed her chance to advance as a gold medal finalist due to a malfunctioning time clock and 15-year-old referee, she and her trainers opted for an immediate appeal.  This required Shin to remain on pique, fencing floor, for 30 minutes, but ultimately ended in disappointment.  This unjust display didn’t qualify as a critical story worth presenting to the U.S. since both opponents hailed from foreign countries.

It’s interesting to live in a country that requires a spark, threat or challenge to defend its national identity.

Failing to acknowledge that other parts of the globe are busy grieving their own devastations shows poor sportsmanship, regardless of how many gold medals our athletes brought home.

rbrooks@unews.com

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