Global Ethics Corner: Televising the Olympics: Where Is the Sport?

Mar 5, 2010

Does the quest for high television ratings deter Olympic sportscasters from focusing on strategies and techniques of sports? Should Olympic coverage focus more on the game than on athletes' personal stories?

Has the TV coverage of the Olympics lost the essence of sports?

Clearly, for the athletes there are few higher goals than an Olympic medal. A few say that, in a long career, it's only one competition among many. But most feel honored just to be included, and even the iconoclastic Bode Miller was thrilled to win, place, and show.

Past changes have sparked controversy. However, the struggle between amateurism and professionalism is over. Corporate commercialization of the Olympic brand is foregone, since there seems no better means of funding. Accommodating competitions to TV markets and schedules is a necessity.

Perhaps, these issues remain minor themes. So, what's the beef? Well, where is the sport, not just the winning and losing?

One ideal was, "The important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle …." The media has given us heart-wrenching emotional stories, which are enthralling. But, similar personal struggles with adversity occur in every aspect of life.

What about the sports-struggle, mastering the techniques and strategies in each sport? With the exception of curling, technique and strategy seemed underplayed; personal stories overplayed.

How about Apolo Ohno's disqualification in the 500 meter? When is a hand-touch offense or defense? A new scoring system in figure skating emphasizes technique, but there was little explanation of those techniques so viewers could watch informed.

What do you think? Are sports' techniques and strategies underplayed? Or, is a more personal touch the best approach?

By William Vocke

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