Thursday, August 07, 2008

Sepinwall on TV: Olympics TV preview

Today's column looks at NBC's coverage plans for the Beijing Olympics, which Dick Ebersol swears will solve all the problems people usually complain about with NBC and the Olympics.

This raises a larger question, at least where this blog is concerned: how many of you actually care about, and/or intend to watch a decent amount of, the Olympics? There was a time several Games ago (mainly Nagano and Sydney) where I would put all my other TV viewing on hold to do nothing but watch and write about them, but I can't muster much, if any, enthusiasm for these Games. Is it just me?

53 comments:

kwigibo said...

I can't see a lot of records being broken, and I can see a lot of athletes developing respiratory disorders. So it should be good, today's tv viewers love the status quo and closeups of lung injuries.

Anonymous said...

Honestly, the biggest thing that will change my viewing with the Olympics is no Morning Joe. Outside that, I may watch a specific event or two, but I won't be watching a lot of coverage by any means.

kwigibo said...

In all seriousness, I'm looking forward to another international event close to my timezone, and will be watching a fair bit I imagine. It sucked last month having to stay up to watch the Tour De France to see the Aussie not win. Now I can go to sleep at a sensible hour AND see Australians win something.

I guess it just sucks for you guys in the World's rockingest hemisphere.

Matter-Eater Lad said...

1996's abomination of John Tesh, Sportscaster pretty much turned me off of Olympics for good. That was also the summer I didn't have cable and there was nothing on aside from the damned Olympics. Now I'll only watch it as background while we're making dinner or something.

lambertman said...

I guess I'll be the uncool one and admit that I'll be watching raw tonnage of the Games. I'm still as into them as when I watched my first games (Sarajevo, when I was nine.)

If anyone from NBC is watching, though: can't you allow me to watch completed events on the dot-com without forcing me to be spoiled first?

Anonymous said...

I've never really been that interested in the Olympics, but I'll admit I'm even less interested than usual this time. I think part of it is because it feels like we've been talking about this Olympics for so long. It's hard to believe it still hasn't actually started.

Sister T said...

I love the Olympics. I'm already caught up in the Joey Cheek/Team Darfur visa denial drama. Thanks to that I'll actually tune into the opening ceremony to see how hard the story gets reported. And after watching Project Runway last night I'll tune in to see what the teams are wearing. (surely something far, far better than the designers' dismal efforts). Then Saturday there is swimming, men's gymnastics, and beach volleyball.

I'll be watching! I love the Olympics. The time difference is a pain, and I appreciate the strong-arm lengths NBC has gone to get me live coverage. I just hope the early finals don't bother the athlete's performances too much.

Nicole said...

The Winter Olympics have always been more interesting for me, but the Summer Olympics normally have an interesting story or two for me to follow. I find the CBC coverage to be miles above NBC coverage because they cover the top athletes in all sports / events, and not just the home country ones and they don't pretend that things are live when they aired hours ago. In the age of the Internet, it is stupid to pretend otherwise.

It also doesn't help that the main focus for NBC seems to be on the arrogant superstars (Michael Phelps eg.) and on not the athletes who work with very little money and sponsorship and pull off a big win.
Since Canadian sports funding is way less than the US, pretty much every story is an underdog one (especially compared to the support US, Russian and Chinese athletes get) and often it is more touching that they get top ten than win a medal.

This year's events may end up not being the focus anyway, since in the ramp up to the Olympics, I have noticed the press has run into several government road blocks and so this one may have more political stories than sports ones.

Sarah D. Bunting said...

Sports Illustrated did a good, subtle job of getting me psyched; they started a dedicated Olympics update section in the mag months ago, and then a couple weeks back they had a big old Olympics preview that sucked me in. If it hadn't been for that, I really wouldn't care much.

And if I didn't work at home, I'd probably not be making an effort to keep up with it, but as it is, I can have the footage on all day and sort of absorb it.

Steven Timberman said...

I know this isn't the place to make a political point, but I simply can't remove the politics of the Olympics from the actual competitions.

All the Olympics have done is shown what a brutal and repressive regime the Chinese government is and I, for one, will not stand for it.

Groovymarlin said...

It's not just you. I just can't get over the hypocritical tone of it all - yay China, host those Olympics! Never mind your human rights abuses or the fact that you could do something to solve the crisis in Darfur but choose instead to do NOTHING. I can't muster any enthusiasm for these Olympic Games.

pdf said...

I couldn't give a shart about the Olympics and will probably be digging into my DVD collection a lot in the coming weeks.

Nicole said...

I still recall the moment Toronto lost its very strong Olympic bid to Beijing in 2001 and it seems many of the promises they made to the IOC were lies, so I can't help watching this one with a lot of "I told you so" when the stories of internet blocking or relocation of people come out. I can only hope that the media does some good by exposing the human rights violations so things change for the better.

Jonsey said...

China chose a bad time to transition into a developed country. If they did so at the same time as the western nations, before the media age, they could have kept all their skeletons in the closet and out of the spotlight. Purging of native peoples, slavery, destructive imperialism - all look so much better with a nice couple of centuries to pad our perceptions.

David J. Loehr said...

I usually prefer the Winter Olympics, and have since childhood. But with each successive event--and especially on NBC--I'm getting more and more tired of the rah-rah-USA thing. If I'm watching, I'm watching because of the sport, not because I necessarily give a damn about the US team.

This year, we'll probably watch more of the summer games than usual in the hopes of showing our six-yr-old a crash course in sportsmanship and--maybe--teamwork before he starts first grade.

But when he's asleep, I'm going to clear out all the old episodes of Top Gear, Middleman, Venture Bros. and Burn Notice that are filling the TiVo right now...

Bobman said...

I think the Olympics suffer from a lot of what we suffer from in our hyper-connected society - overexposure. They used to hold their audience so captive because they were so rare, so ephemeral even - come and gone in a flash, only available on the major network that was carrying them. Now with the internet combined with nineteen different cable channels carrying hundreds of hours of coverage, the allure is gone even for people who used to care. It's no longer that special, but rather something you're sick of hearing about before it even starts.

Throw in all the horrific political China stuff (human rights violations, environmental issues, etc) and I think NBC is going to be very disappointed in their ratings.

Grunt said...

I love the idea of the Olympics. Truth be told I like the Winter Olympics better...I find track and field deathly dull (This guy is going to run 100 meters really fast, now this other guy will do the same thing with 200 meters, and this guy here will run 400 meters...ad nauseum. It's like NASCAR without the crashes and I don't like NASCAR).

So I'll watch the swimming (why I find people swimming laps more compelling than people running track? No idea.), I'll watch the diving, I'll watch the Gymnastics and I'll rail against the stupid fluff pieces they will show instead of actual sporting events.

And I'll watch the opening cerimonies because I love the pomp and there are generally so many ill-concieved notions in them that you can make a pretty good drinking game out of it.

Kristin said...

I stopped watching the Olympics when they created these 3- and 4-hour long programs that condensed that day's stuff into short bits and pieces. And then, even though the gymnastics competition ended hours ago, they still insist on only showing you 10 minutes at time, forcing you to watch other events that may not interest you, keeping you up all 4 hours until midnight to finally get the results of the ONE event you wanted to see.

For my husband, I think it was Seoul that turned him off. He likes to watch Olympic boxing and the martial arts events. They used to actually *show* some of the fights....and then for the Seoul Olympics they just flashed the results up on the screen. That made him SO angry.

The Olympics should give EVERY sport fan the chance to watch his/her sport. Even if it is just the medal deciding matches. The Olympics should not be about showcasing only the 'popular' events...which, sadly, tend to be sports of interest to women...gymnastics, ice skating, etc.

I kind of like to watch the odder sports because I learn something new. Like the biatholon (sp?) with the skiing and shooting. Or even Judo or curling.

If they would go back to showing the Olympics almost all day on Saturdays, like I remember, I would be watching. Because it was cool to just turn on the tv and have some world class athletes competing in a variety of events all weekend long.

Oh, and could they cut the long, drawn out personal stories behind some of the athletes...especially those who aren't even AMERICAN athletes!

Toby said...

I'll wait until the London Olympics in 2012 and see if they match up to what we saw happen in 'Doctor Who'.....

Otherwise it's just one big reality show and I don't watch reality shows.

Grunt said...

I wanted to add something (sorry).

In 1996 my then-boyfriend and I went up to Canada during our vacation which happened to be during the summer Olympics. The CBC coverage was really low-rent, but far superior to the NBC coverage we had been watching. I wish we could get the CBC Olympic coverage in New York. I'd be more excited if that happened.

filmcricket said...

The CBC's Olympic coverage ranges from good to unbearably lame, but I still find it far and away better than most of NBC's for the reasons Nicole mentioned - they don't just show sports that Canadians are likely to do well in and don't cut away from the medal rounds just because Canadians won't win. ("Finishing just out of the medals - a part of our Heritage.") I'm really going to miss Brian Williams brandishing newspapers at the camera, though.

The year Steve Nash captained the basketball team I was glued to the set, but in general I prefer the Winter Olympics, myself. I just want to see my boy Adam Van Koeverden carry in the flag and my friend's cousin Simon Whitfield win the triathalon, otherwise I don't care that much. My main interest is going to be in seeing all the new buildings - there have been several articles about the architectural marvels that Beijing commissioned and I want to see if they work as well as they look.

And while I agree the political situation is disgusting, I also kind of feel: what else is new? The Games were held in Berlin under Hitler and in the Soviet Union. The world's pretty good at turning a blind eye to repression everywhere - why should the Olympics be different?

Nicole said...

I actually forgot that Brian Williams moved over to CTV... but at least he will be hosting the 2010 games and those will be awesome. I still recall how great it was watching the Calgary Games, and even though we didn't win any gold that time, something I hope changes in 2 years, there is just something more special about watching the Olympics when they are in your own country.

At least Ron McLean is still there, and hopefully Steve Armitage will cover track and field or swimming, because he gets really excited about all the races and that sorta gets me into them.

R.A. Porter said...

I haven't enjoyed the Olympics since NBC got the contract. Each Olympiad has been more treacly than the last. Maybe if ABC wins broadcast rights again and reanimates Jim McKay, maybe then I'll watch.

Anonymous said...

I once worked for an American producer on a show in Vancouver. His impression of Canadians was summed up in his feeling that our national cheer at the Olympics should be "Go for the bronze!" I was reminded of this after reading Filmcricket's quote: "Finishing just out of the medals - a part of our Heritage." Both comments made me smile. Whether or not Canadians win medals I still enjoy watching the Games. I usually root for the countries that are represented by only 3-4 athletes walking proudly with their flag at the opening ceremonies.

Jim said...

I'll watch some if I stumble across an event that interests me if I'm channel-surfing, but in general I find the Olympics marginally less annoying than the political conventions, in both cases victims of excessive media hype and analysis.

Looking at the picture on this thread, I am curious is the reason Dick Clark suddenly had so many health problems is because Costas stole his Preservation Amulet.

dyb said...

A friend of mine is an editor at the Hong Kong bureau of the International Herald-Tribune, and she also blogs. This is from a post she made today:

<<<<<<
The photo we ran in today's IHT is of Yao Ming carrying the torch. It's a grand image, but the only way I can describe the look on his face is one of grim determination -- not one of ease or joy.

As endless people have said to me -- including my father, who is so proud of China during these Games -- "It will probably run smoothly. China will make sure of that. It just doesn't sound like it's all going to be much fun."
>>>>>>>

excentric said...

I have to agree with R.A. Porter. NBC ruined the Olympics for me. I also think it is just wrong to have them in China right now. The air-quality effect on the athletes is bad enough to boycott the games, but the repression of China's people should be the deal-breaker. Shame on us for condoning this by showing up.

klm said...

Yeah, I'll be watching hours and hours. But that's what I've done every Olympics since my first one. I'm a girl who grew up with a Mary Lou Retton Wheaties box; it's almost out of my hands at this point.

dez said...

Maybe if ABC wins broadcast rights again and reanimates Jim McKay, maybe then I'll watch.

I would totally watch Zombie Jim McKay narrate anything! Are we sure they don't have his head preserved, a la "Futurama"?

(I say that with much love. Jim McKay = The Olympics as far as I'm concerned. Sorry, Bob's ego.)

I'll be watching and holding my nose at the same time (not just because it's NBC, but the whole China thing). I hate that my fave sporting event is being tarnished by politics, but I can't take it out on the athletes. I just won't have the same level of enthusiasm I normally have for the best time of the year (or Shark Week, for that matter).

boffo said...

DVRs make the Olympics watchable. You can just record everything that's broadcast, and then fast-forward through 95% of it. You can skip the boring events, mindless chatter, in depth profiles about how every single athlete ever has suffered and overcome a horrible tragedy, etc, and just watch the stuff you care about.

Anonymous said...

As a less than rah-rah Canadian, I have to admitt it irks me something big when I have to hear all the American criticism of anything we do. Who gives a flying fig if we don't have a "everyone must win gold!" attitude? That's a hell of a lot healthier than the "kill everyone, must WIN!" attitude the Americans and other nations adopt for the games - it defeats the whole purpose, which is to come together in sport.

CBC does a very good job at covering the games, but I don't think the NBC coverage is shameful. In fact, they usually do nice features on their athletes and have a good vantage point in terms of filming the closing and opening ceremonies.

What CBC does do really well - and I hope CTV continues to do when they broadcast the Vancouver games - is they rarely make drastic edits, and then tend to give a good sampling of events, not just those where Canadian athletes are winning.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Wow. Who knew the Olympics thread was going to turn into a USA vs. Canada border war?

I know that so far most of the ire has been directed at outside media and not each other, but play nice, people. Don't make me cut off the smoked meat supply.

Nicole said...

I don't hate NBC coverage, as much as I just like CBC's better because it's less edited and there is focus on athletes who don't make the podium but do a personal best. And as a Canadian, I can't help excited when someone unexpected wins a gold, because you see the enthusiasm in the reporters, which I don't see so much on NBC, because it's more like "another gold to add to the total". Then the next day Brian Williams pulls out the headlines for that athlete's hometown paper and they interview the athlete and the parents of the athlete and if the athlete is from Newfoundland there is probably a kitchen party on the go because of it. It's not a slick production, but it's more heartfelt.


I do blame NBC specifically for the less interesting coverage though, because I used to watch ABC and my first fond memories of Olympic Games are of Jim McKay doing the Los Angeles Games. I also thought that CBS wasn't bad for the Winter Games and Letterman's mother in Lillehammer was one of the better continuing bits.

Ed said...

I can't wait to watch. My favorite part is when they have those up close and personal segments about the athletes.

Just kidding, I hate those, a lot.

But I do watch the Olympics and I'm pretty excited that they are back.

Go Swimmers! U-S-A U-S-A

Rich C said...

I'll be watching a ton. But mostly, it's the obscure sports that draw me in (both summer and winter).
That's why I enjoy NBC's coverage (but not nesc. NBC per se). Four years ago, I got totally sucked into Olympic Team Handball; but I only got to see it because NBC shunted coverage over to CNBC and MSNBC. This year I'm even more excited because we add events on USA and Universal (plus regular old NBC, I guess). And most of them in HD!

So bring on the handball, badminton, canoeing, and heck, I'll even watch the dressage (but no more than once every 4 years). There is just something so compelling about watching The Best in The World, especially when it's a sport I don't get to see in the US.

filmcricket said...

@ Nicole: Yeah, Steve Armitage can call a race better than just about anyone I know. It'll be interesting to see how the CTV/TSN/Sportsnet coverage varies when they get the contract for 2010. Having the network carry the high-profile, prime-time stuff backed up by the two cable channels should mean better all-round coverage, but I have a soft spot for the Mother Corp in general. (I wish I could find the Brian Williams drinking game online, it was hilarious.)

@ Anonymous - 11:57 a.m.: that was a This Hour Has 22 Minutes spoof on those godawful "Heritage Minute" ads; it showed up during I forget which Olympics, but when Canadians seemed to place fourth - a lot.

JMags said...

I'll be watching the Olympics. I'm not watching silly sci-fi, supernatural tv shows.

R.A. Porter said...

@jmags, are you implying that something like Middleman is less realistic than Dara Torres being drug free? 'Cause I have an easier time believing in flying fish zombification and Santa Claus than I do in her.

Alanna said...

I can understand why NBC focuses on the big-name events and overdoes the jingoism. While both annoy me, they DO appeal to the majority of viewers. NBC has spent a fortune on these Games, and they have to guarantee ratings numbers to the advertisers. The human interest stories can get far too treacly for my taste, but many folks like that sort of thing -- and, unfortunately, they're just not going to watch archery or weightlifting, no matter how compelling the event. They want to see the sprinters, the gymnasts, and Michael Phelps.

I just wish NBC would make those lower profile events more accessible to those of us who ARE interested, instead of airing them on one of their obscure cable affiliates at 3am.

M.A.Peel said...

Four years ago I was in Italy during the Olympics from Athens, and I was riveted to the tv there. The coverage was so fantastic: there was some direct RAI coverage, but mostly feeds from Sky, BBC, and even NBC, that ran nearly 20 hours a day. They showed such a breadth of competitions, and weren't constricted to just showing Italians, but the whole range of nationalities.

The general enthusiasm of the coverage was also really high, and I got caught up in the spirit. I'll see if I can find any of that spirit here.

Nicole said...

So I am currently watching the opening ceremonies live on CBC and when I flip to NBC to see what they are doing, they have Meredith Viera live on the Today show in what looks like the stadium parking lot talking about "Today's Chow"... why not air the ceremonies live and then re-air in prime-time like CBC will do? I think most people understand that China and the US don't have the same time zone. This is exactly the kind of thing that annoys me about NBC's coverage. Not everything revolves around the Eastern time zone.

lambertman said...

I can't be persuaded to apologize for the Americans' desire for, and attainment of, success at the Games. I'm sure Canada will take great pleasure in beating the rest of us down in Vancouver in '10, as well they should.

Anyway, something we're not considering in the "why isn't this live?" debate - the local affiliates make *tons* of money on their local news and would not want to part with it, even for two weeks (it's just long enough for viewers who don't like the Games to settle into a new pattern watching the CBS or ABC affiliate. Well, not so much the ABC affil here in Indianapolis, but you get my point.

betty said...

I love the Olympics. Really. But, we only watch the Red Sox in the summer anyway, so sports is our main viewing.

Thanks for the list of networks and their planned viewing. I had to laugh that Oxygen will ahve all the girl sports - nightly gymnastics, synchronized swimming, etc. My 7 year old will be watching that network, I think.

lambertman said...

The 2-hour "girlsports" Oxygen show aired on Bravo back in 2004. Guess it didn't work there.

(Hey, I like equestrian...)

filmcricket said...

Having watched both the CBC's live coverage and now NBC's taped coverage of the opening ceremonies, I have to give NBC some props. While it's nice to see the event without commericals, there were major technical glitches with the CBC's broadcast, particularly when they went down to the floor to interview athletes - sound and picture should be synchronized if at all possible, guys.

Also, there was no word at all from the CBC crew about the kid who walked out with Yao Ming at the head of the Chinese team; I had to wait for Bob Costas to tell me that he was a survivor of the recent earthquake who'd dug himself out of the rubble. Great story, and one that you'd think would be available to most journalists. I appreciate that Ron & Peter refrained from unnecessary nattering, but c'mon, guys. What do we pay you for?

Eric Fingerhut said...

I love the Olympics and plan to watch much of the prime-time coverage, at the very least. I do think, though, NBC is misleading us with their claims that 80 percent of their coverage is live. That may technically be true, but it includes all the hours that air overnight on the cable stations. If you look at the schedule, though, while there is a bunch of live stuff in primetime in the first week, there's virtually nothing in the second week (no live track, no live diving finals).

Also, much of the good live stuff won't even technically be aired in prime time, but in late night. Live swimming doesn't start until 10 p.m. and will stretch past 11 most night (OK, that's not that late), but both the men's and women's all-around gymnastics finals don't even BEGIN until 11 p.m. and end close to 1 a.m. That's not prime time, that really is late night. But what else is new? NBC is always misleading us with their promotions....

Nicole said...

I watched the live CBC coverage and the announcer explained that the young boy was a survivor of the earthquake, so maybe that's why Ron and Peter didn't talk about it, or maybe they did right at the end? I was aware of why he was there though prior to catching the later NBC coverage.
I did appreciate the interview that NBC did at the end with Yao Ming and then the boy chimes in at the end. The dedication to Jim MacKay was also classy.
I still preferred CBC to NBC, but thought NBC was much better than it had been in the past. I only wished that they would acknowledge a bit more that they weren't airing this live.
I will probably just stick with CBC since they are airing things live, and only go to NBC if I missed something, or couldn't stay up that late. I do love that the Internet is facilitating catching things at work.

Anonymous said...

As a Canadian living in America, I don't watch much of the Olympics, because its impossible to find Canada on if they're not playing America. However, I'll still do my normal Summer Olympics thing and occasionally catch the weird sports on TV and be glued to the television watching badminton for some reason.

Anonymous said...

I got really turned off back in 1996 when my beloved US Women's Soccer team won the gold over China and not only was the game not shown live, it wasn't shown at all. They showed little 10 minute segments of highlights tape delayed. It made me want to cry.

Now, I am delighted to find, there is an entire HD NBC Soccer channel!

In addition to soccer, I will watch whatever is on. I watched the US women's volleyball team play Japan this morning at the gym. It was really entertaining and they didn't show a single feature.

I think NBC sounds like they have addressed their past mistakes and this is going to be a fun Olympics.

Kate E. said...

Yeah the opening ceremony coverage was a bit hard to take with Bob Costas and Matt Lauer jabbering on about
the symbol's of "openness"

Seriously the words "open" were used almost every other sentance.

Because usually when I think China I think open. After mocking that concept of a few minutes in our house it just got to be too much. I mean there is only so much shine you can put on the sh*t and its despicable that not only would we put up with the lies there government is trying to put out there, but perpetuate them.

Capcom said...

I can't resist the opening and closing ceremonies...the best part for me. I like the winter Olympics better than the summer. But for each Olympics there seems to be some interesting stories and atmosphere to follow. I'm just praying that no more violence happens at this one. And that China puts its actions where its lofty Oylmpic "One World One Dream" thoughts are, and leaves Tibet alone.

LOL, Toby! Agreed, Nicole. :-)

amasea said...

Last night's 4x100m men's freestyle relay was amazing. I think I would have cheered just as hard if the win hadn't been for the US (although the Phelps gold hunt did add to it), because the race itself was just so unbelievable. The top FIVE finishers beat the world record, and that .08 second comeback touch-out had my household on its feet.
NBC's coverage seems to be more balanced this year, with less (although still significant, which is to be expected) emphasis on the American athletes. The treacle seems to be toned down so far, too, several of the athlete stories have been about non-Americans, like that 33-year-old gymnast from the former USSR who is trying to pay for her son's leukemia treatment. Maybe it's me, but that story was told in such a way that it was somewhat moving without being overdone.
I appreciate that I can go see the more obscure events I'm interested in online, while there are enough cable channels, even in my minimal lineup, for me to be able to switch back and forth and find something appealing somewhere.
To r.a. porter: I'm curious whether you've followed Torres' situation at all. She's volunteered for a phenomenal amount of drug testing, including having samples stored for 10 years to be tested in the future as better tests come along. She's said she wants to be the best example she can be for middle-aged people. And more power to her for that.
As you might have guessed, I'll be watching a fair amount of the Olympics. And I'd watch more if I didn't have to work.
I have mixed feelings about the political and social aspects of the games; on the one hand, I think that China hasn't done nearly as well as it could have on those fronts, but it also has made significant strides that might not have been made had the Olympic spotlight not been shining on the country. On the other hand, I like the ideal of the Olympics being as purely a sporting event as possible, with politics and religion and everything else taking a back seat to sport.

amasea said...

Last night's 4x100m men's freestyle relay was amazing. I think I would have cheered just as hard if the win hadn't been for the US (although the Phelps gold hunt did add to it), because the race itself was just so unbelievable. The top FIVE finishers beat the world record, and that .08 second comeback touch-out had my household on its feet.
NBC's coverage seems to be more balanced this year, with less (although still significant, which is to be expected) emphasis on the American athletes. The treacle seems to be toned down so far, too, several of the athlete stories have been about non-Americans, like that 33-year-old gymnast from the former USSR who is trying to pay for her son's leukemia treatment. Maybe it's me, but that story was told in such a way that it was somewhat moving without being overdone.
I appreciate that I can go see the more obscure events I'm interested in online, while there are enough cable channels, even in my minimal lineup, for me to be able to switch back and forth and find something appealing somewhere.
To r.a. porter: I'm curious whether you've followed Torres' situation at all. She's volunteered for a phenomenal amount of drug testing, including having samples stored for 10 years to be tested in the future as better tests come along. She's said she wants to be the best example she can be for middle-aged people. And more power to her for that.
As you might have guessed, I'll be watching a fair amount of the Olympics. And I'd watch more if I didn't have to work.
I have mixed feelings about the political and social aspects of the games; on the one hand, I think that China hasn't done nearly as well as it could have on those fronts, but it also has made significant strides that might not have been made had the Olympic spotlight not been shining on the country. On the other hand, I like the ideal of the Olympics being as purely a sporting event as possible, with politics and religion and everything else taking a back seat to sport.