Raymond’s subjective, unfair, and completely wrong impressions of the opening ceremonies of a major athletic event which took place recently


Like many other people, I watched the opening ceremonies of a major athletic event which took place a few days ago. (The organization responsible for the event has taken the step of blocking the mention of the name of the city hosting the event and the year the event takes place, or the name of the event itself except in editorial news pieces or journalistic statements of fact, of which this is neither, so I will endeavour to steer clear of the protected marks.)

I wish somebody had let me know in advance that the opening ceremonies came with a reading list. I hope that at least the British history majors enjoyed it.

NBC, the media organization which obtained the rights to broadcast the event in the United States, explained that they were not streaming the opening or closing ceremonies live because they "do not translate well online because they require context, which our award-winning production team will provide." And now we learned what sort of contextualization their award-winning production team provided: For Tim Berners-Lee, their valuable context was, "I don't know who that guy is." (The Guardian provides a snarky backgrounder.)

During the entry of the various national teams, the standard activity is to make fun of their outfits.

Dear Czech Republic: Spandex shorts and blue rain galoshes? It's as if you're trying to look hideous.

Dear Germany: Wha??? I'm speechless.

Dear United States of America: I hope you enjoy your shore leave. (Somebody seriously has a navy fetish going on.)

Dear Sweden: I know it's late, but you're not supposed to wear your jammy-jams to the opening ceremony. Jag säger bara...

Dear gracious hosts: Oh, now I get it. It's the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. But still, you could've chosen a better tribute than wearing dresses from 1912.

Comments (41)
  1. John says:

    Of all the issues with the event that shall not be named I think the most egregious is NBC's refusal to air things live.  I mean seriously, LOLWUT?  A global event (that SHALL NOT BE NAMED) has the world's attention and we learn about the results from news broadcasts BEFORE the event (that SHALL NOT BE NAMED) is shown?  My God, it's full of fail!

  2. configurator says:

    It was aired live in Israel, and the broadcasters were just as bad. They were reading from the sheets, but half the time they were wrong because they either read a line that wasn't supposed to be read yet, or one that had already happened half an hour ago…

  3. Random832 says:

    It's not clear to me why this isn't both an editorial news piece and a series of journalistic statements of fact, but I can see why you wouldn't want to bother your lawyer with this. I really do wish they would stop with the commercialization that steps on people's ability to act normally. For another example: I heard that, in the nameless city, no-one except the fast food chain that had paid for the official sponsorship of the games is allowed to sell anything resembling french fries except as part of a 'fish and chips' combination – and the last bit was a last-minute compromise due to public outrage.

    [I can write an opinion piece, but since I am not the editor of blogs.msdn.com, I cannot write an editorial. And this is clearly an opinion piece, not news coverage (a la "Today at ⟨major sporting event⟩, Athlete X won Event Y"). -Raymond]
  4. Well, I live in the host country for the event that shall not be named, and at least our presenters were doing a lot better. Of course, since it is our own history and stuff, it would be a sad day if they didn't know that.

  5. ctrl-altius says:

    May I trust that all you in Seattle have your blinds to avoid casting eyes on the xxxxxxx Peninsula or its xxxxxxx Mountains?

  6. Adam Rosenfield says:

    The reason that NBC is refusing to air certain things live is simple: money.  They get far more ad revenue by selling ads in prime time slots for popular events that people want to watch than they would if they aired those events during morning/afternoon hours and sold ads for those time slots instead.  When the choice comes down to giving the people what they want or making more money, what do you think a big corporation is going to do?

  7. RP says:

    Is your avoidance of the protected marks a satirical comment, or simply a way to stay out of trouble? Just asking out of interest; after all, I don't want you to get into trouble because I typed London, do I?

  8. Minos says:

    NBC, through its much maligned streaming and tape-delay decisions, appears willfully ignorant of the fact that there are faster sources of information than television.

    I find it unsurprising, even fitting, that their representatives didn't recognize the inventor of the World Wide Web.

  9. Nik says:

    All right, no one is to stone anyone until I blow this whistle. Even… and I want to make this absolutely clear… even if they do say, "London Olympics."

  10. RP says:

    @Nik: No-one expects the LOCOG Inquisition!

  11. frymaster says:

    almost as bad, imo, was when, during a section about the 7/7 London bombings (the day after London won the right to host the 2012 games) that was remembering the victims, NBC decided to show an interview with Phelps instead…

  12. jader3rd says:

    I thought the opening ceremonies would have been way better without the commentators.

  13. Avi says:

    @RP:

    The eye-oh-see is extremely protective of their assumed right to mention anything about the sporting-event-modeled-after-an-ancient-Greek-event-of-a-similar-nature.  So some of it is satire and some is an honest attempt to avoid involving MS in a lawsuit.

  14. And there was this mystery woman in the Indian parade: abcnews.go.com/…/indias-olympic-team-abuzz-mystery-woman-16880630 Security, anyone?

  15. Mike Dimmick says:

    I wasn't terribly convinced by the gold lamé hoodies, to be honest, though the bling+chav factor fits in well in Hackney…

  16. Mason Wheeler says:

    Does anyone even care about the XXXXXXX Games anymore?  It's supposed to be about celebrating the dignity of mankind and the nobility of the human spirit, but they gave up all pretense of that when they held the Games in China.

  17. chentiangemalc says:

    personally i thought the canadian team had the worst colour combination…red & beige. not working for me.

  18. Richard Cox says:

    Dear Czech Republic […]

    Umbrellas and wellies seems a pretty good option given the weather this year so far: multiple months of record levels of rain. And therefore raised something of a smile here.

  19. 640k says:

    In other posts you optimized the title for searching (blogs.msdn.com/…/10331400.aspx).

    Not now though, you helped no one this time.

    [Helping people was not the purpose of this article. I can't believe I had to write that. -Raymond]
  20. A Londoner says:

    Random832 – I hasten to assure you that chips are available for sale all across London. It's only inside Games venues that the madness applies. This is good, as otherwise much of the population would starve.

  21. Antonio Rodríguez says:

    In Spain, the ceremony was broadcast live by Spanish national television (TVE, Televisión Española). And the commentators/translators were well informed: they had right every name I'm aware of (even that of Tim Berners-Lee), and their comments about what was inspiring the act were helpful (even when you usually don't need that info for a neighbor country).

  22. Did anybody else spot the added touch of technical accuracy, that TBL was using a NextCube ?

    I had great fun pointing this out to my fiancée (a Mac fan, like me) and the heritage her much loved equipment of today shares with that particular cube of technology.

  23. Gabe says:

    Raymond: In this case, the word "editorial" is not being used as the noun that means "an opinion piece written by the editors", but is an adjective that means "the literary content". Generally speaking, "commercial use" means use in advertisements, while "editorial use" means use in any other part of the publication. Using the marks in your post would be considered editorial use.

    frymaster: The NBC editors thought it was a generic memorial and didn't know that the memorial piece was specifically addressing 7/7. I haven't seen it, but I'm guessing that there was nothing about it that overtly said "7/7 bombing memorial".

  24. Drak says:

    I can't believe what this IOC gets away with. How can you copyright the word describing 'of the Greek city Ολυμπία'?

    Turned the event into a huge commercial farce, they have.

  25. In the summer of 2012, many shops across England have closed. Birmingham, Newcastle, London, Southampton; all cities have been affected.

    Several Games have closed, directing customers to their nearest branch of the sister brand, Gamestation.

    With the cost of iron, copper, gold and silver changing, scrap dealers are having a great time, while pawnbrokers are starting to feel some pressure; people are pawning, but not rebuying.

    Tanning salons are having to cut their prices drastically in order to meet competition from bronze sprays which are available from any corner shop now.

    Sorry, Raymond.

  26. Antonio Rodríguez says:

    @Jolyon Smith: yes I did, too! I pointed it to my mother, which unfortunately, didn't seem to care… She has three of her four sons working with computers, and even has an ADSL connection at her home just for her sons' and grandsons' Wi-Fi devices, but doesn't want to know a word about computers :-) .

  27. GWO says:

    I can't believe a software company has IP protection of the name of a piece of fruit!

    I can't believe a software company has IP protection of the name of a piece of glass in a buliding!

    Really, the protection of "Olympics" with respect to sporting events is not especially stronger than the protection Apple receive for and "London 2012" is not esentially the same as the protection afforded "Windows 95"

    [It's one thing to protect a name against misuse. It's another to prohibit the use of the name at all without permission, or to prohibit unfavorable linking. -Raymond]
  28. RP says:

    @GWO: It's not IP protection, it's trademark protection. /pedant

  29. Rangoric says:

    And the protection extends way beyond sporting events.

  30. laonianren says:

    @GWO The Olympics don't get the same trademark protection as everyone else.  They actually get their own special protections in their own special legislation.  See, for example, the "Olympic Symbol etc. (Protection) Act 1995" and the "London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006".

  31. Ed R. says:

    @Adam Rosenfield: Isn't the reason ad revenue is higher in the evening exactly because there are more people watching then? "When the choice comes down to giving the people what they want or making more money": Isn't giving the people what they want how to make more money? Not that I think giving people Geraldo and the Solid Gold dancers is some kind of selfless noble act, but it's clearly giving the people what they want. (Sorry, I haven't watched TV for a long time.)

    A large percentage of commenters on this blog sit in a cubicle and can read blogs and watch streamed sports while at work, but most people don't have that option. If most people really were able to watch during the day, ad revenue would be higher during the day.

  32. I didn't know the state of Washington is under Great Britain jurisdiction. Guess the War was in vain.

  33. Random832 says:

    @Ed R. This doesn't explain why they can't show it during the day and then again at prime time.

  34. GregM says:

    Random, repeating events means that they would be able to show fewer events overall.

  35. Steve Hayter says:

    @Dave Walker: The IOC have very strict rights on things like this – I imagine they were only permitted to broadcast them once.

  36. David Walker says:

    @Random832:  I thought the same thing, that the opening ceremonies could be shown during the day and again in prime time.  Ad rates for both broadcasts could probably be set high enough for the network to be happy.  But the network seemed to want to broadcast the opening ceremonies in prime time *only*, for some reason.

  37. Random832 says:

    "repeating events means that they would be able to show fewer events overall." – or they could just have more channels. But this argument doesn't apply to the opening ceremony – there's no event to show at 4pm.

  38. Muzer says:

    I love the BBC, but recently their events coverage has been awful. During the Jubilee boats-on-the-Thames-thing the name of which escapes me, I was watching BBC coverage – they kept cutting away from the boats to show Fearne Cotton, and when they WERE showing the boats they had no clue what was going on. I've heard Sky's coverage was much better, but I don't fund the Murdoch empire so couldn't have watched it in HD (Sky News HD is part of the HD pack, which combined with the basic pack comes to something like 30 GBP per month…). Their opening ceremony coverage was better but stil not great – Trevor Nelson, the male black Fearne Cotton, was there to drag things down with inane comments. I bet he didn't know who Tim Berners Lee was, but at least there were two competent commentators there to speak for most of the time :p

  39. GregM says:

    Random, I believe that they are already using all of their channels pretty much full time.  As for the opening ceremony, as someone else stated, that probably involves things such as IOC licensing it to them for only a single full showing.

  40. Gabe says:

    GregM: NBC paid over $1,000,000,000 for the rights to air the games. That means they get to pretty much dictate the terms. If they wanted to show the opening ceremonies twice, I'm sure they could have easily negotiated for it.

  41. GregM says:

    Maybe, maybe not, we'll never know.

Comments are closed.