The Olympics: do you still watch?


    London Olympics signIt seems like just yesterday we were trying to follow the equestrian events across the globe at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and yet, we’re now about a year away from the 2012 London games. Where has the time gone? And moreover, does anyone still care?

    Don’t get me wrong. I love the Olympics. I’m not a big sports fan, but something about the pageantry and tradition of the Olympics sucks me in. I don’t really think about competitive swimming or speed skating for nearly four years straight, but then I will sit and watch them for hours just because they’re part of the Olympics. Call it an addiction.

    Still, if I had to give up every random Olympic sport in exchange for comprehensive coverage of the equestrian events, I’d do it in a heartbeat. I don’t really have that option, though, do I? In NBC’s two weeks of summer Olympic coverage, how many minutes are devoted to equestrian? In 2008, I think it was right around zero. If you have cable, you might have better luck with the coverage on some of the other channels, but not much.

    Now, I’m not here to point the finger at NBC. We equestrians are a small but devoted audience, but when deciding on which sports to give precious airtime, numbers win over enthusiasm every time. More people want to watch gymnastics than dressage. I get it. And NBC has given extensive coverage to all sports, even equestrian events, on its various websites. But that doesn’t help you if you’re out in the boonies with a slow connection and is less gratifying if you have to watch on a tiny laptop screen.

    Recently, NBC beat out its competitors to secure coverage of the next four Olympics, starting with the 2014 winter games (they had already landed the London coverage.) They have announced that they “will make every event available live on one platform or another.” Previously, NBC’s model was to tape the favorite events and hold them until the prime time broadcast. So even if you wanted to watch Michael Phelps swim for the gold live at 2:00am, you couldn’t do it, not even online.

    That’s not the relevant bit to the equestrian sports fans, though, given that no one was holding on to equestrian footage to save it for prime time. But if they do indeed follow through with broadcasting “every event” live, that means we can destroy our eyesight staring at our computer screens for hours and hours of dressage, eventing and show jumping. Hooray!

    It’s still a year away, but thinking ahead, will you watch? Will you devote your Internet connection to streaming NBC’s coverage of equestrian events? Will you seek it out on cable, or (fingers crossed) enjoy whatever scraps they might throw us in the prime time network broadcast?

    I expect I’ll be hogging all the bandwidth to watch the horses live in London as much as I can. I can’t help it. It’s an addiction.

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