Olympics Telecasts Are Mystifying – to Put it Kindly

powell_bolt_gay.jpgIf I were (more?) paranoid, I would suspect the media of conspiring to sabotage the Olympics. Or maybe it’s the Olympics committee that’s to blame. But whoever the culprits may be, I find the telecasts and reports of this year’s games confusing and dull.

Here’s an example:

This morning, while the two men’s 100-meter dash semifinals were being run, there was a soccer (football) game on my TV. I think the teams were from Brazil and the Cameroons. It wasn’t a final or anything, just a qualifying match – and an excruciatingly dull one.

The fact that America’s star sprinter, Tyson Gay (pictured, middle), finished fifth in the second semi-final and did not qualify for the final may have something to do with it, as I understand the events are tape-delayed so the TV producers know who won what before they put events on the air. But even so, two other American sprinters made the finals, albeit far down the list.

Who finished first and second? Need you ask? Jamaican Usain Bolt (right) won the first semifinal and Jamaican Asafa Powell (left) won the second. A third Jamaican, Michael Frater also qualified. The other finalists were (by the time you read this the finals will most likely be concluded): Darvis Patton, United States; Richard Thompson, Trinidad & Tobago; Walter Dix, United States; Marc Burns, Trinidad & Tobago; and Churandy Martina, Netherlands Antilles.

(It’s 9:37 a.m. EDT, and not a word has appeared on Yahoo News so far. I had to go to the official Olympics Web site to find the results.)

So far, I’ve seen some interesting gymnastics and a lot of foaming water as (American) Michael Phelps is shown winning medal after medal. The fact that one swimming event looks exactly like the next (to me, anyway) doesn’t seem to matter. The TV producers have shown us every minute of the Phelps saga, from what he eats for breakfast to how he gets himself massaged for the next heat. No doubt about it, the guy is a great swimmer. No doubt about it, swimming isn’t much to watch on TV.

But it’s more exciting than archery. Yesterday, I watched a South Korean woman and a Chinese woman shooting arrow after arrow. I watched them draw back the bow and release the string. Then the camera showed an arrow plunging into the target. It may have been more interesting than watching my grandfather clock’s pendulum go back and forth, but not much.

Oh, yes, there were some other “sports” on the TV when I switched to NBC (or MSNBC) from time to time – beach volleyball was one, weightlifting was another, and I think I saw a few seconds of a water polo game before changing channels.

Talk about boring!

Thankfully, I only have to endure this every four years.

BULLETIN 11:20 a.m. – Bolt won the finals in the record time of 9.69 seconds. Thompson came second and Dix third. Powell was a disappointing fifth.The 6-foot-5 Bolt is the favorite to also win the 200 meters next. He would be the first men’s Olympic sprint double winner since American Carl Lewis in 1988.

I still haven’t seen a 100-meter race on television. Wassup?