Tamsyn Lewis: Give her a break Channel 7!

17 08 2008

Did anyone watch Tamsyn Lewis run in the 800m Semi-final last night? All I can say is my heart went out to her.

Tamsyn Lewis 2008 Olympics

Tamsyn Lewis 2008 Olympics

Before she even ran the race, there was a great media controversy thanks to her comments regarding drugs in sport. From what I gather she basically said that many athletes are using drugs. Well considering that most of the Russian team (except for the woman that won the same 800m semi-final in which Tamsyn competed) were disqualified for using drugs. It seems she was right. So why did the media crucify her? Why is it such a taboo subject that no-one will talk about and yet it appears to be happening?

The head of the IOC, Jacques Rogge admits that there are types of performance enhancing drugs that they can’t detect yet. Also here’s a study that says there are flaws in the doping detection system that the IOC employs. Mr Rogge also spoke about American Sprinter Marion Jones, who was stripped of medals won at the 2000 Olympics, and was able to make sure she was “clean” over the time of the competition. Well it would seem that even the IOC is well aware that it is going on and that they can’t prevent it all.

Gary Hall Jnr was on the Yum Cha program ( Episode 5: go to about 39 minutes into the program) the other day saying that when people are breaking world records left, right and centre then you have to start considering that perhaps drugs are out there.

Gary Hall Jnr

Gary Hall Jnr

Back to my thoughts now; remember when maybe one or two world records might be broken in a single Olympics? Remember when a world record used to hold longer than an hour; in fact some of them held for years before they were broken? Well how many swimmers have been swimming in front of that green line that moves down the pool to show us where the World Record time is? Often there are three people swimming better than a world record … I mean what the heck, can you tell me that is seriously all diet and the funky swimsuits?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not accusing anyone and I really hope I’m wrong, but there are limits to the human body and how are these things achievable across so many people. Look at situations where athletes struggle to finish fifth in a heat and then in a final a couple of days later they finish without breaking a sweat.

Why isn’t anyone else considering this? Why is everyone so silent? Why did Tamsyn Lewis get crucified by the media for comments that are in fact true in the situation in which she was referring to?

Anyway, I tip my hat to Channel 7 for continuing her crucifixion by interviewing her straight after her loss in the 800m semi-final last night. I mean the girl is obviously upset, she’s crying for god’s sake but Channel 7 they don’t decide to leave the interview until after she’s composed herself. No, they get straight into it and ask her stupid questions which make her feel worse. She was openly crying by the end of the interview. Then they plow into the whole issue of her comments on drugs earlier in the week in the hope that she will say something else they can use against her and hopefully get higher ratings.

Well Channel 7, I for one say “That’s not cool” That is absolutely not the way to be treating someone who has worked and trained hard, made lots of sacrifices and has just had a devastating loss. Not only that, she was speaking the truth and she’s Australian. We should be supporting her not trying to knock her down at every pass! 

I’d also like to say that before this Olympics I didn’t really know who Tamsyn Lewis was and I am aware that recently her career hasn’t been that stellar, but arguably that could be as a result of her decision NOT to take drugs. It has to be heartbreaking to know that you are doing the right thing but that others in your sport aren’t and then you have your country behind you wanting to know why you aren’t winning. In fact, I wonder if Tamsyn had been at the top of her career (i.e. a winner literally speaking) would the media have been as quick to crucify her?

Food for thought.

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Frustrated with Australia’s Olympic Coverage

14 08 2008

Okay this has been bothering me for a few days now and I feel I have to voice it, maybe there are people out there as frustrated as I am. Then again maybe there aren’t and those that read this will have to put up with another one of my rants. I’ll leave it up to the readers to be the judge.

I should preface my comments here by saying two things. Firstly, that due to my bung leg at the moment I planned to sit back and watch as much Olympics as possible. Secondly, I think the advent of such fantastic technology in the world has made me spoiled. I realise that I am one of the generation with a terribly low attention span who expects everything to arrive at my doorstep immediately. I also think that fantastic technology means that I am used to having more control.

What I want is more control over my olympic coverage. That’s right I want Olympics on Demand! I mean think about it, wouldn’t it be nice instead of watching the endless repeats of the one gold medal Australia managed to win for that day to go through a list of options and decide what else you might like to view.  Wouldn’t it be great to tap into the coverage at the source and watch which events you want to watch at that point in time. Also wouldn’t it be fantastic to pause, fast forward, rewind and add your own slow motion replay, and before you ask this IS NOT a Tivo advertisement I’m writing here as I believe that Tivo relies on what the Australian channels broadcast. I’m talking more about the coverage of events that aren’t shown at all or in their entirety, including things that Australia is competing in but we aren’t a hope for a medal so they don’t show it all like the men’s archery the other day. They may have shown it the one time but there have been no repeats and no copies of it on the Yahoo 7 website … I guess I should check out the SBS website it was probably on their channel.

I think the reason this appeals to me so much is that the Australian media coverage of the Olympics is frustrating me so much this year. I don’t know if they have always covered the Olympics in this manner every other year and I just never noticed or whether they are worse this year, either option is possible.

Here’s a list of things that are getting to me about the Olympic Coverage this year. 

  • Commercial breaks being inserted in the most frustrating situations; especially when a game is being broadcast live and then suddenly you’ve missed the other team scoring three points … I mean three points!
  • Many of the rowing events seem to be broadcast well after they have started, so you just come into the event and you have the last 250 metres or something short at the end of the race and by the time I worked out where Australia was on the screen all the teams had crossed the line.
  • Replays that have big sections cut out because someone else decided it wouldn’t affect the outcome. One such glaring omission was in a highlight I was viewing on the yahoo 7 website of the Womens 400m Individual Swimming Medley where one second you are viewing the breast stroke and they are halfway down the pool facing one direction and suddenly BAM they are doing freestyle, facing the opposite direction and about to hit the wall.  
  • Annoying close ups when you don’t want them! Gah! Especially when you want to see the wider shot to see, oh I don’t know, where the teams are positioned in a race (shock horror)
  • How about settling in to watch the Olympics in the afternoon of Day 1 to fnd out that there are no Olympics being broadcast but only the AFL football. At least SBS was showing the Men’s road race, which Australia was competing in and we had a chance at a medal.
  • Not enough signage for dumb people like me. I’m terrible at listening to what I’m watching and I have often forgotten whether or not I’m watching a heat, semi-final or final.
  • Has anyone noticed that Channel 7 refuses to put up a medal tally most of the time so as to force you to look at the one on their website. I’m sure I remember previous Olympics where they used to update the medal tally after EVERY win and you’d see it on TV every hour at least.
  • Switching from a live game, where the score is in contention (the last two women’s basketball games come to mind) to see a REPEAT (yes a repeat) of a swimming final that has already been replayed three times in that day.
  • Only being able to view Australia compete and one or two of the competitors (K-1 and C-1 Slalom stuff) and then seeing the leaderboard and not being able to see the rest of the competition. There’s no build-up, no excitement.
  • Not seeing the Leaderboard shown enough for dumb people like me that can’t remember where the teams are up to after a new team competes. For example the Mens synchronised spring board diving I didn’t see the leaderboard come up between each round at all. Typically Australia wasn’t doing well but I had no idea what position they were in, it was so frustrating.
  • Having teams not show up for swimming heats, or last night New Zealand were disqualified for an event and the commentators didn’t even notice a whole lane with no swimmers in it, let alone give a reason for the disqualification. They didn’t even comment that anyone was missing!

The Olympics is the only real sporting event that I watch at all, let alone this closely. I would imagine these are issues that probably annoy audiences world wide about any sport. Also, come to think of it this is probably the same whinge that many people have about the Olympics coverage every four years. But perhaps this Olympics is worse than normal or is it just that because I am not working I have more viewing time to notice the things the networks always do every Olympics?

Before I have to print any kind of apology to either Channel 7 or SBS, I’d like to say that I understand where the channels are coming from. They are here to make money and if they have to truncate some stuff to be able to fit in the advertisements of their sponsors due to contractual obligations then all power to them. Why they insist on showing these little getting to know you segments about China when there are other more interesting events that could be broadcast I don’t know. In fact, why they felt the need to waste valuabe event airing time by airing Today Tonight I will never understand but hey, maybe the hosts needed a dinner break? Or even the Olympians have a dinner break then? Okay it is just my particular dislike and disrespect of that program.

I mean wouldn’t it be great if we could choose to pay a certain amount to be able to get Olympics on demand and choose what we want to watch. I mean they could place advertisements into it (TV channels would never go for it if I took away their money making power), either at the beginning or if things were recorded ads could be inserted without the need to miss important parts of the coverage. I am sure that everyone is interested in different events and maybe there are more people than just me that are interested in watching other countries compete and seeing what the competition has to offer rather than simply seeing the final eight contestants for anything?

Essentially, wouldn’t it be great to be your own TV station? I’d pay for the privilege of course and Channel 7 could still have their free to air coverage, but I could go through a list of events that the Chinese are taping and pick and choose what I want to see and what I want to tape for later. Wouldn’t that be a great way for the TV networks to cater to everyones preferences and would stop us all whinging because we are tired of others taking control and still not showing us even a fraction of what we want to see. No doubt this solution would probably show me why the TV channels have it so tough in trying to get all of the coverage onto our screens.

Surely, the technology is available to achieve this by the next Olympics?