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Olympic Musings - RonO's Ramblings — LiveJournal

Feb. 15th, 2010 11:04 am Olympic Musings

I'm a bit of an Olympics junkie -- albiet one whose addiction keeps getting interrupted by real life. But I have a few musings about the games so far.

First, why does the NBC announcer think that Americans are so badly innumerent (the number equivalent of illiterate) that you cannot mention that the luge starting point for men was moved down by "about 200 yards," but have to say "about two football fields"? I can understand him not wanting to say "about 200 meters" or "about 185 meters" or whatever the actual distance is, since Americans do tend to have a better understanding of imperial distances, but "two football fields"?

I've been enjoying what I've seen, and am glad that we've seen decent coverage of some of the less common sports, and ones that Americans don't do all that well in. For instance, on Saturday afternoon there was actually coverage of the biathlon, and it looked like it was pretty close to real-time rather than edited down. On the other hand NBC (like ABC and CBS before them) still tends to focus on US athletes and the favorites, ignoring other competitors.

It looks like the change in Figure Skating scoring is still, for the most part, having its desired effect. But I'm still suspicious that some of the judges still score somewhat on reputation and what they see at times other than the actual competition - which seemed to be exactly what happened during the old "out of six" scoring days.

I am looking forward to a few of the spots that haven't started yet -- curling, alpine skiing and some of the snowboard events are always worth watching -- but will probably pretty much ignore the hockey, especially the NHL All-Star class. And, I'll probably miss quite a bit with other commitments, including ConDor over the closing weekend. But I'll enjoy what I get to see.

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Date:February 15th, 2010 07:35 pm (UTC)
Concerning your first point: I've run into that before, even from a story on NPR's This American Life. I was listening to a story recently when the narrator compared a distance to some lines on a tennis court. I remember thinking at the time that I had no idea how far that might actually be and really wishing he'd use actual numbers of some sort. I can kind of understand making a comparison by relating things to the length of a football field when describing a sporting event, but it does still assume that people that watch these specific Olympic events have a grasp of football.
Date:February 15th, 2010 07:49 pm (UTC)
I, too, like the Olympics, and I'm even more radical than you: It annoys me mightily that the commentators must continuously translate stuff into old-fashioned units. It's a wonder that they don't put up special graphics to overlay the official feeds so that the results of the speed skating are for the "1640 yard" event or something like that.

And yes, I think they have a basic assumption that most of their viewers are innumerate, jingoistic idiots whose favorite sport is gridiron American football. And I worry that they're only responding to market research that tells them that this is the case.
Date:February 16th, 2010 01:39 pm (UTC)
I've heard "innumerate" but I think it's a fairly recent coinage. What's the argument in favor of "innumerent?"
Date:February 17th, 2010 02:04 pm (UTC)
The women's hockey which I've caught shows that we need better women's programs in other countries. The US and Canada are just awesome, especially in comparison to countries which I thought might have a decent women's program like Switzerland. (I thought the Swiss goalie was outstanding, sure she let a bunch in, but she stopped a lot more... 1st period had 16 shots on goal from the US team and 2 from the Swiss. She must have felt like a target at a shooting range, but she was still standing and stopping them at the end of the game).