Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Evolution of the Olympic Personality

Well, who doesn't like to watch the Olympics?
I love watching the swimming, diving, gymnastics, and track and field in the summer games. It's addictive. We've been staying up way too late.

While it's subtle, you can see a bit of a difference as each Olympics passes. The US is famous for its hero worship and elevation of all sorts of folks--deserved or not--to a pedestal. The gamut obviously ranges from Paris Hilton to Al Gore to Natalie Portman to Pete Wentz to...professional wrestlers. Normally, most of it makes me a little sick to my stomach.

When the Olympics come around, the worship goes to the athletes, which is mostly a good thing. You have the great stories of courage, like Kerry Strug; the "rebels" like Elvis Stoyko or Surya Bonali, the uber-athletes like Mark Spitz. This year it's Michael Phelps.

Boy, is it fun to watch that kid swim. (Hello, age. Kid?) He's remarkable. And when they interview him, for the most part, he still seems grounded, though very confident. Likable.

Now, here's the weird part--and unfortunately I can't find this graphic to share--NBC has actually created a Michael Phelps "countdown bug". In case you don't know, a "bug" in broadcast is the little graphic they put in the lower right hand corner of your screen, usually to brand something or to tell you what's coming up.

"Michael Phelps: 5 minutes"

What? I feel like it's the Olympics on E! for crying out loud. Let me just hear it from the announcer. What if he's not the only reason I'm watching? Hasn't this taken our hero worship to a level that contradicts the principle of the Olympics a bit?

(Not that I'm not going to miss one medal race for men's swimming...)

(photo courtesy AP/David J. Phillip)

1 comment:

Kwana said...

The countdown bug is a bit much. But boy is watching him exciting. i feel kinda sorry for the other athletes this year. I'm also loving the diving. It's a fave of mine.