Bolt smashes World Record… or did he?

I will be posting women’s marathon updates on the Twitter page. Race starts at 7:30 p.m. U.S. Eastern.

Nearly three hours after Tyson Gay had un-triumphantly pulled off one of the biggest Olympic flops since Dan & Dave of the Reebok ads in 1992, and an hour after Usain Bolt ran the fastest a human being as ever run for 100 meters, NBC decided it was a good time to run its first advertisement/feature hyping the 100-meter showdown between Gay and Bolt.

Gay was “quietly fierce” and determined to bring gold home for the ol’ U.S.A. He talked about how his sister had inspired him to run and how he loves to sign autographs for fans because athletic careers are short and one day no one is going to ask.

It was very sweet and, no, that’s not sarcasm. How often do we ever hear about athletes that enjoy all the trappings of their celebrity?

Nevertheless, the Gay-Bolt hype felt a lot like reading last week’s newspaper… or worse. Actually, it felt insulting as if NBC were pretending that we all live in caves that are wired just for cable TV. To NBC, nothing else exists beyond what they beam out for air.

Frankly, it’s a lot like the offerings the Chinese government transmits through its state-run TV networks, which, incidentally, anyone can watch live on the Internet at CCTV. Yeah, that’s right – Americans can watch Chinese television on the Internet, but not NBC.

How does that work?

Actually, it doesn’t. In fact, it’s quite mean. Yeah, it’s mean as if a big monolithic corporation once owned primarily by a group best known for making light bulbs and nuclear bombs were making fun of us. They’re taunting us nanny-nanny-boo-boo style as if they were the big bully on the playground.

But the worst-kept secret behind every bully is that they are insecure. The fear is right there on the surface, lurking around with nervous glances and irrational behavior. Because they can’t reason with the changing media dynamic (much like the majority of the newspaper business, incidentally) they throw punches and force feed things in the same, tired way. Sit still, be quiet and take whatever it is we give you, they say.

It’s mean.

The television is as much an anachronism as a newspaper. Sure, people still watch TV – they numbers bear that out. But people aren’t going to sit down at 8 p.m. because corporations like NBC tell them that’s when the show will be on. It doesn’t work that way anymore.

More importantly, if something occurs and NBC has the ability to air it live, it is their responsibility to do so. If they want to put on a basketball game on the TV because people are tied to their old habits, fine. Do it. But if a basketball game and a big track meet are taking place at the same time, it’s OK to put one on TV and the other on, say, the Internet. It’s OK to do that now. We all seem to understand how the Internet works and fits into the modern household. Let’s just stop pretending that that the message can only be delivered one way when there are many different methods of delivery.

This isn’t just about the Olympics coverage. Oh no. It goes for politics, news and everything else. If the whole world is watching, as they say, I want to know what they are looking at. I want the truth, not the script.

Instead, fans of certain sports are being forced to live in a parallel universe. It’s the bizarro world where what you might know didn’t really happen. It’s like the old “if a tree falls in the woods” bit except it’s more like, “if a guy runs the 100 in 9.69 and NBC doesn’t air it or stream it, did it happen?”

According to The New York Times, The Washington Post, ESPN, CNN, Pravda, Al Jazeera and any other organization in the world that claims to report news, it did. But, you know, they aren’t the rights’ holders. Those people – the people that own air – are letting you watch Chris Paul talk to Craig Sager about basketball.

Yeah, yeah, yeah… I know. It’s the same old argument every four years. Track fans (or fans of rowing, shooting, horse jumping, tae kwon do, etc., etc.) don’t get to see the events they like best. Instead it’s too much hype about Michael Phelps powering through the water from 1,629 different angles – all in high definition. Too much Misty May all sandy and sweaty with all that skin slowly slipping out of that skimpy, tight beach volleyball bikini – in high def. Too much of Bob Costas’ hair, meticulously groomed as if it were the actual Olympic Green – again, in high def.

Bring back the TripleCast. Give us pay-per-view because the Olympics happen once every four years and it’s cheaper to own a TV than travel to China.

But come on. Give us something. Sure, NBC is streaming a lot of events – tons actually. However they only show it if they can’t package it or only after it aired on one of the handful of NBC-owned networks. Things like the track & field card were not only aired on television until at least 12 hours after it occurred, but also not streamed. For instance, the women’s 10,000-meters finals (a big event for track geeks, especially since Shalane Flanagan won bronze) went off at 10:15 a.m. U.S. Eastern Time on Friday, but was not shown in the U.S. until approximately 1 a.m. on Saturday morning.

What, were they trying to get the smallest audience possible?

I get it. Track is not very popular in the U.S. (something I don’t get, but that’s me), but at least give us an option. Charge us $10 to watch a full slate of a specific event. Give us something.

Hell, even throw in the commercials, we’ll take ’em. We’re desperate. Look, we know the reason NBC won’t put certain events on the Internet is because they are afraid of the truth – they are afraid that TV is quickly heading in very much the same direction that newspaper business finds itself. They’re afraid of how good the numbers on the Internet coverage will be. They’re afraid that viewers will make the switch and never come back. The Internet gives just too much portability, responsibility and power to the viewer. Imagine, someone can lug around a laptop or a cell phone or an iPod or a PDA and watch the Olympics. Come on, imagine it.

But oh, no, no, no… not on NBC’s watch. Not if they can help it. Not if they can tell you one thing and show you another.

Plus, the network sold the TV air time. Coke, Visa, McDonalds, AT&T, Budweisser and all of the major sponsors want their shiny, over-produced ads superimposed on Michael Phelps’ Speedo as he swims to another gold medal – in high def. Maybe the execs at the big advertisers are just like their counterparts at the networks in that they are too old for the new demographic. They don’t get this new-fangled techie stuff. Why in their day they had 12 channels and rabbit ears and they liked it that way. They prefer things the way they used to be.

You will watch what they tell you when they tell you…

But not for long.

Brave new world

John DalyIf you’re like me you are a shade under 6-foot-1; about 160 pounds; live in Lancaster with a wife and two kids; like to drink coffee and run a lot; and spend about 13 hours a day on your laptop. I suppose the last one of that long list is an occupational hazard of working in the Internets business. Until they move the Internets to another medium, I’m going to remain handcuffed to this machine I have (literally) on my lap.

Still, even if I didn’t work on web sites and the like, I’m not sure if it would limit my participation in things World Wide Web-related. Frankly, everything is on the web nowadays and it doesn’t look like that fact is going to change any time soon. Look, I take crap all the time about being a web writer as if that’s any different than other types of writers. Either no one wants to hear it or no one is listening, but the fact is everyone writes for the web now. Book it… or code it with the proper HTML codes, please.

Anyway, I believe that advancements in technology should make things like newspapers and television better. I also believe that advancements in technology should heighten our level of discourse in these here United States, but I don’t think I’m smart enough to know if any of this stuff is true. I do know that newspapers should just stop printing paper versions already. Seriously, just stop… it’s cluttering up the Starbucks and waiting rooms across the country. Someone has to pick that stuff up, stack it in a pile and put it in the proper recycling receptacle.

So stop with the paper already.

Another fact to be is that television seems to be headed to the same neighborhood where newspapers live right now. One hand washes the other or something like that. Besides, people like portability, they like to talk about things like WiFi and they like being able to be connected anywhere at any time. That means if I want to watch, oh let’s say something like The Wire, a Major League Baseball game or the NCAA Tournament, I don’t have to sit on the couch in front of the teevee like Jaba the Hut. Instead I can reach into my backpack, whip out the ol’ HP and dial it up even if I’m negotiating myself through cross-town traffic.

Yes, it’s a brave new world we’re living in, folks.

How brave? So brave that newspapers, radio and TV stations are dabbling in exclusive content just for its web viewers. Actually, it’s gotten to the point where media outlets have to put its programming on the web, too, thus broadening the reach beyond it small locality. World Wide Web… get it? Actually, Major League Baseball has (read the next few words as if you were Scotty[1] from Star Trek) embraced the technology to the point where its entire Extra Innings package is available on the web via video and audio.

Yeah, that’s old news. MLB seemed to be waaay out in front when it came to the so-called “new media.” Actually, they are so out in front on the web and whatnot that the development of its own cable TV network seems kind of quaint these days.

“Oh, how cute. Baseball is going to start its own channel. That’s nice… can I get it on my iPhone?”

But check this out: the NCAA and CBS are putting every game of the NCAA Basketball Tournament online.  Yep, that’s right… all of ‘em. That means if you’re like me and stuck with your nose in a laptop all day, you don’t have to sit in front of a television to watch another one of those ubiquitous last-second “look-ins” that personify the coverage of the Tournament. You know, if there isn’t an upset or a buzzer-beater it didn’t really happen…

Until now.

So just to be different I might search out a first-round game where a No. 4 seed beats a No. 13 seed by 15 points. Let’s hope the walk-on sitting at the end of the bench gets in for the last minute.

***
Famous actor/comedian Billy Crystal signed one of those celebrity deals to be a player for the Yankees for a couple of days during spring training. You know, kind of like fantasy camp for the guys with the real cache.

Meanwhile, the Phillies countered with human car wreck/professional golfer, John Daly. Looks like the Yankees win again, though from the correct angle Daly almost looks like Brett Myers from the chin down.

Billy Crystal just looks like Billy Crystal in a Yankees shirt.


[1] Scotty was a Scotsman… go figure.