The ultimate Olympic event is the 100-meter dash. From the greatness of Jesse Owens and Carl Lewis, to the ignominy of Ben Johnson--it has in many ways come to define the Olympics. This year a man with a name that comes out of central casting, a name straight out of Dickens--Usain Bolt of Jamaica, set a world record of 9.69 seconds at the Bird's Nest.
Bolt, in breaking his own world record, even slowed up at the end,pounding his chest, which has some wondering if he could have come in at 9.64, or even better. This is what the Olympics should be all about--watching athletes exceed our wildest dreams as to what is physically possible. There was just one problem with this amazing moment in sports history--it wasn't televised here in America. Instead men's basketball was being broadcast. Does anyone believe for one moment if US track star Tyson Gayhad made the finals, this would have happened? Infact, unless you were following the race on a live blog you wouldn'thave known a record fell at all. (And what does a "live blog" for a 10second race look like? "The race begins." "Now it's over.")
As one poster at Washington Post.com putit, "Seriously, I'm sitting here watching the basketball team destroy Spain when I could have been watching the first person in history beak the 9.7 second mark? NBC has been dropping the ball all week on what they have been showing. They think that just because we are in America, all we want to watch are Americans." Another person called it "Shocking and disappointing." And yet another said pointedly, "Hey NBC, you SUCK."
Somehow NBC--as well as John McCain and the Republican party--hasn'tgotten the memo that the cold war is over. Ivan Drago hasleft the building and no one wants to remake Red Dawn.We don't need to be spoonfed American athletes and US stars as if ournational dignity would somehow be sullied if we watched Bolt race. Thesports world has gone global. We are capable to be awed by swimmers from Zimbabwe, gymnasts from China, and yes, sprinters from Jamaica.
If Bob Costas and NBC could just remove the red, white and blue facepaint for a moment, they might be shocked by what they can see.