Category: Archive

Editorial: Elusive Sonia Something like a funeral gloom now hangs over the heads of those who support the Good Friday Agreement, thanks to the triumph of the Rev. William McCrea last week in the South Antrim by-election.

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

NBC’s over-produced and under-reported version of the Olympic Games in Sydney missed one of the better soap opera sideshows so apparently beloved by the network’s planners. Worse than this, most viewers also missed Sonia O’Sullivan’s 5,000 meter final which was broadcast in something closer to aboriginal dreamtime than the ordinary working stiff’s real time. Sonia should have been perfect fodder for an NBC Olympic distraction special. After all, she’s been consistently at the top of women’s middle distance running for most of the last ten years but at Olympic level has been a chronic underachiever. Now’s she’s having an affair with the former boyfriend of games golden girl Cathy Freeman, much to the Australian’s apparent chagrin. This could have kept us glued to the box for, well, five minutes, not counting commercials. Thankfully, we were spared such nonsense.

Unhappily, most were also denied Sonia’s moment of Olympic redemption when she finally laid claim to a medal. Sonia’s race was bordering on ancient history when it was shown at about 2 a.m. eastern time Tuesday. The fact that there were no Americans in the medal hunt in the 5,000 was only part of the explanation here. Even the most jingoistic American fans are having a difficult time staying awake for events where not alone are Americans assured of winning, but have already done so the better part of a day earlier.

Television is a wonderful medium but the commercial imperative that underlies NBC’s coverage of the games means that its ability to communicate events even promptly, never mind instantly, must be subjugated to every viewer-hooking trick in the book. Tape delay is one thing, procrastination — literally in this case — is quite another. Sure there is a problem posed by great time differences between Sydney and various U.S. time zones. But little effort has been made by NBC to close these gaps. Every major track final could be broadcast between 7 p.m. and midnight with proper production, editing and a realization that many American viewers are actually interested in competitors from other nations and their events.

We can only hope that Sonia O’Sullivan qualifies for the 10,000 meter final and that somebody at NBC realizes that her comeback from the disasters of Atlanta, her race and all the other runners in it, are worth covering at an hour when most of us are still conscious.

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