By Marc Philip Agar
August 9, 2021
Now that the Olympics has concluded, I will convey some thoughts on the last couple of weeks of Olympic competition. I have watched thoroughly a majority of the events and I feel I have a very good perspective on much of the happenings of the last two weeks. I will not be laying this out in any priority order; rather, I will highlight various thoughts as they come to me upon reflecting on the competitions, the network broadcast, and of course, the athletes themselves.
THE OLYMPICS BROADCAST
I want to first address the broadcast. To be clear, I dislike tape delays of any athletic events. Preferably, I want to watch sports live with limited commercials. Surely, I understand and accept the network’s need to pay large sums for the rights to broadcast these games. As such, I will even tolerate more commercials than necessary. After all, I am a businessman who understands budgets, the costs of productions, and the enormous challenges of producing these games. The broadcast of the games must be justified and a return on the investment is expected.
Notwithstanding, a few thoughts here are warranted. The network had an additional year to plan this production. It seems to me they could have done a much better job of handling the difference in time between Tokyo and the United States. I was watching on Eastern Daylight Time and I had some degree of difficulty understanding when the events actually occurred and the timeliness of the broadcast itself. I watched at all hours of the day and night and at times, even the announcers failed to remember that the airing of their events would be delayed and might cause some confusion.
Families of the athletes were in their celebratory settings and they anxiously watched their loved ones. I watched them sit on “pins and needles” awaiting the results. At times, the footage of the families’ watch parties was not concurrent with the delayed event footage being transmitted back to the states. As such, they ultimately knew the results, whereas I was at times very perplexed.
OLYMPICS BROADCAST COLOR COMMENTARY
I felt the color commentary was quite good for the most part. It is important for those of us who do not follow particular sports throughout the year be informed of the fine details of a particular sport and the backgrounds of the leading competitors. I was especially intrigued, for example, with how the individual canoe competitors held their canoes in position and so relatively still in the water at the starting line; or how the artistic synchronized swimmers maintained such a constant physical bodily speed while submerged under water for such great lengths of time; or how water polo players are able to tread water while firing off their shots despite being bombarded and jammed physically by the pursuing opponents.
I thought the network chose some excellent color analysts and I was quite impressed with the thoroughness of their preparation. I was especially impressed with the commentators who handled the diving and swimming competitions. More of these insights are welcome as we learn, for example, about the reigning champions in their respective sports. But again, taped delays need to be scripted more carefully for sports fans. Many of us won’t watch at all when we already have heard the results.
AVOIDING DAILY OLYMPICS REPORTS
For me, I spent way too much time avoiding the daily news and “breaking” Olympic news reports. I wanted to ensure that I would not hear any of the results ahead of the broadcast. Then, lo and behold, I would mistakenly hear on a particular show that an Olympic athlete would be appearing on air the following day. That was disappointing as it was obvious the invited athlete had won.
I do understand that everyone was encouraged to go to the streaming services for some live events. I chose to limit that activity as I wanted to capture comfortably on my large television screen some lesser televised sports. As such, I was able to view some events for the very first time, e.g., sport climbing and canoe slalom or to get reacquainted with some events such as 3 on 3 basketball, equestrian, shot put, skateboarding and the like.
REQUEST FOR MORE INTERNATIONAL ATHLETES
I especially appreciated the variety of the events aired, though I would have liked to have seen more of an international mix, especially when the USA was not competitive in a particular sport. I wanted to see how athletes around the globe compete and train, to see what we lack in our country, and to view the excellence present elsewhere.
I have a responsibility to help get my clients prepared and ready for success. I was keying in to pick up the newest information and insights from other countries which I will use in my clients’ training, readiness, and focus. I think casual fans might enjoy more of this content as well.
CONTRADICTORY OLYMPICS MESSAGING
Importantly, there was contradictory messaging. We Americans were not playing up to par in several of our events and yet, I would hear or read something similar to this comment: “Well, it is not all about winning.”
Sports is winning and losing and no competitive elite athlete arrived in Tokyo just to have a good experience. Mind you, I do not want to devalue the very, very special silver and bronze medals and the tremendous honor and privilege of being selected to an Olympic team. Yet every Olympic athlete wanted to be atop the podium with a gold medal displayed around their neck. That’s the dream!
Of course, there is no question that there is so much to also be gained even when not winning. A great point in fact was the Toyota commercial highlighting the Siberian elite athlete whose legs were amputated as a child. That was a great, inspirational story and a tremendous lesson to us all!
Unfortunately, not all of the athletes I watched were adequately prepared to win. While I only saw a couple who were not physically ready, many were not “locked in” to winning within their new surroundings. Some were surprised in seeing how much the landscape changes when you enter the Olympic venues.
Overall, though, the competitions were outstanding and I want to offer my heartfelt congratulations to all of the athletes. Furthermore, congratulations to the Japanese hosts for pulling this off in such trying circumstances. The venues were magnificent and the memories will be long-lasting. Great job!
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