The Olympics are in full effect and almost everyone in this household is watching some type of game broadcasted on television ranging from archery to gymnastics. Everyone except me. Nothing against my country’s best athletes, I just don’t like watching sports unless I’m the one playing. For everyone else, the passive act of watching Michael Phelps or *FILL IN THE BLANK* achieve gold in their respective sport is the most thrilling sensation one experiences until the next Olympics. Now that I can relate to.
Watching the Games is like watching someone next to you play a horror game. Let’s go with Amnesia. Once the monster sees your friend, the game has started. Anxiousness accelerates as the monster spots you both through the TV screen. Uneasiness controls your body as the monster’s appearance becomes clearer and larger while honing in on your location. Your friend panics and screams uncontrollably. Though the monster cannot physically touch you, you like your friend are engulfed in the game. Your entire being is left in the hands of a bulky controller. In the Games, a similar reaction can be seen on the parents’ faces when they see their child perform though most of the time their expression isn’t horror. But it can be just as grueling as Mr. Ugly’s sudden appearance. We, the viewers, vicariously put much of ourselves in the Olympians’ shoes while at the same time merely standing as witnesses to their wonder. Of course some of that magic is lost when the event isn’t happening right in front of your eyes.
Though I don’t know the official broadcasters in other countries, here in the US NBC is the official channel for Olympic Games and American fans have expressed their disappointment in the way NBC has handled the live coverage of the Games for ratings. Understandable, especially since we live in a time where information travels instantaneously but is held back for local news to use as their main story. I am one of the few people who don’t mind spoilers, but I do prefer to have the experience unfold at my surprise. I recently just finished Bioshock for the first time and having known all the plot beats of the game beforehand, some of the magic was lost. Knowing how the game would end and the twist left me wishing I hadn’t watched my sister beat the game years ago. Same goes for the Games; the fun is watching with unknown expectations.
It can be said that NBC has always handled the Olympics this way, but times are changing. People want the network to broadcast the games live even if it’s during working hours. Waiting for the primetime slot just won’t do it anymore. Fans want to feel, I suppose, unified – as if they are watching the same event unfold in London at the same time. They want the same rush as those seated mere inches from the athletes. They want to feel like they are in the stands at the pool minus the smell of chlorine. Millions of miles separate them, but the feeling of a unified community watching one thing builds one’s anticipation much high. Sadly, they will have to settle for eight o’clock.