Aug 22, 2008, 09:01AM

Missing The Point

Mainstream American media coverage of the Olympics seems to consist of endless Michael Phelps lifestyle stories, close-ups of pixie faced female gymnasts, and the occasional competition. Unfortunately they're missing out on some of the most interesting story lines. Here a sports writer's attempt to catch us up.

I’ve been watching a ridiculous amount of Olympics coverage. Coverage has not benefited the serious sports fan, as the focus has been on individual competitors and their soft-lighted stories, rather than the actual competitions themselves.

I could write a lot about the Olympics, but I think it is important to make three points that the media seems disinclined to.

1) These Olympics have only strengthened my discomfort with sports in which victory is completely determined by judges. We’ve seen some gymnasts — namely Liukin, who tied for first in one event but received a silver medal — be denied what is rightfully theirs by the arcana of a scoring system that no one seems to understand. Most sports at least attempt to be transparent in their method for determining victors and let matters be settled on the playing field.

2) There’s also been considerable consternation in the media about China’s huge lead in gold medals, which they will likely carry through to the end. It’s rather unprecedented that the U.S. is losing by so many in the gold meal count. What we don’t realize is that the U.S., in recent Olympic history, had only dominated the medal count in 1996.

3) There’s been an interesting debate in political circles about the U.S. Olympic Committee wanting to ask Congress to supplement their $130 million annual budget, which comes from mostly private sources and corporate sponsorships. Funding from the federal government (if it replaces some corporate sponsorships) might be in the best interest of the U.S. Olympic Team, as the use of athletes (who make barely enough to get by) for corporations’ profit is one of the greatest misfortunes of the modern Olympics.


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