Joe Lavin

February 2006

From Boston Sports Review

The Couch Potato Games


The Winter Olympics haven't even started yet, and already I am a little sick of them. When the Games do start on February 10th, they will be almost impossible to avoid. Over all its networks, NBC is planning an astonishing 416 hours of coverage. Spread over seventeen days, that's an average of over 24 hours a day. Finally, during these games, if you get a hankering to watch luge at 3:30 in the morning, then you can probably do so.

Their coverage is spread across seven networks, ranging from NBC to CNBC to even Telemundo. There are also two high definition channels, which is very exciting. After all, you've never really seen the biathlon until you've seen it in high def.

Here's definitive proof that there's too much coverage. Sportscaster Fred Roggin has been named the official MSNBC curling host. Now, there's something to put on your sports broadcasting resume. In fact, over the weekends, MSNBC will become your headquarters for curling. Well, not you personally. You probably have errands to run, but if you were the type to stay home on the weekend to watch curling, then MSNBC would in fact be your headquarters. Of course, this all begs the question: If a curling match takes place in a forest and is televised on MSNBC, did it really happen?

There's also a special in-demand channel that will offer up close and personal athlete profiles that you can watch anytime. I don't know about you, but for me this really stretches the whole definition of the phrase "in-demand." I'm looking more for a special channel that cuts all that out.

Still, as always, we will probably be sucked in. Here's some more of what to expect while watching athletes perform in the cold from the comfort of your bed under a nice warm electric blanket.

Bob Costas. More Bob Costas than you could possibly want, if your name is not Mrs. Bob Costas. Admittedly, I usually like Costas. It's just during the Olympics when I see him for seventeen nights in a row that I start hoping he will magically self-combust during some particularly compelling up close and personal feature about some speed skater who has managed to overcome a tragic nose hair problem to finally win a Gold medal.

Not nearly enough coverage about whether the Sox will trade Manny and who will play center field and shortstop. If you ask me, these international sports aficionados can really get their priorities mixed up.

Really wacked-out mascots. This year, meet Neve and Gliz. "She is a soft, friendly and elegant snowball. He is a lively and playful ice cube," the official web site explains. Unfortunately, they look more like a cross between Gumbo and The Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Drugs. Speaking of weird hallucinations involving friendly snowballs and playful ice cubes, drugs will, as always, be in the news. Sadly, during every Olympics, there is some sort of steroids scandal. (This year, be especially wary of Rafael Palmeiro's luge debut.) In each sport, there is a risk of some athlete using performance-enhancing drugs. Well, except for snowboarding, where historically there's more a risk of an athlete using performance-dehancing drugs.

Americans. Two words: USA! USA! Some American who finishes in 14th place always trumps a foreign gold medalist, and NBC clearly knows this.

And, of course, there will be figure skating. Thankfully, there will probably not be 416 hours of figure skating. It will just seem that way.


©2006 Joe Lavin

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