Jim Colburn
Don't Ask

"Could the Olympics
be Any More Boring?"

Could the Olympics be any more boring?

I mistakenly thought that since Sydney was 15 hours ahead of the East Coast that NBC would be able to strip out the fluff and show lots of hard core sporting events. Semis and finals, track and field, bursts of speed and shows of endurance. They'd can all those 10 minute pieces that tell the sad, sad tale of how poor Yuri was raised by wolves in the steppes of Russia and has only recently learned to speak in complete sentences but Lordy how he can run...

What do I see as I stare at the screen? Ballroom dancing preliminaries. How the hell did ballroom dancing get into the Olympics anyway? Did Fred Astaire appear to the head of the IOC in a dream and demand that the rumba be included? Do they deduct points for too many folds in the taffeta? Is T-Ball a trial sport for 2004?

This is supposed to be the "27th Olympiad Of The Modern Era" but it sure doesn't look modern. These are, by and large, the same sports done the same way as they've been done for a hundred years. Even ballroom dancing has been around since the court of Louis XIV. The Olympics should be modern. It shloud be on the cutting edge. That means that the Olympics should take advantage whatever the host country has to offer.

Take Australia. There's LOTS of spare room in Australia. So instead of holding the 400-meter, 1500-meter, etc. in a stadium on a track that goes round and round why not have the race just go off in s trait line? Same thing with the marathon, a long strait line leading to the outback. Better yet. Let's make things even more interesting by releasing a few nasty looking and very hungry animals just behind the runners? I'm sure a few records would be set every time that happened.

The photographic coverage? Since everyone uses auto-focus cameras and lenses, super-fast motors and high-speed color negative film you just know that every damn frame is going to be close to perfect. It's getting to look pretty much the same, day in, day out. So let's put a little of the competition back into the coverage of the Olympics.

Here's what you do. Everyone covering an event gets one Kodak disposable camera. 27 frames. Best photographer wins. You'd have guys crawling on to the track, hurling themselves in front of pole vaulters and gaffers-taping themselves to the under bellies of equestrian-event horses to get a better picture. The photographers would actually become a part of the event.. As an added plus the editing would be a LOT easier since most of the shots would be out of focus or badly framed.

Television? First of all, you'd have to forget the whole Giant-American-Network-Gets-An-Exclusive thing. Let's make it more like local markets all over the world. Every network, every local station, every freelancer with a Canon XL1 could show up and compete for footage. Picture the scene during the women's hurdle. Fourteen two-man crews running backward trying to get the shot. Sound men screaming "Look out! Another hurdle!" every 10 seconds or so. Pole vaulters impaling themselves on a boom mike after clearing 19 feet. The ratings would go through the roof.

And it wouldn't be boring. Silly perhaps, but not boring.

DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed are barely my own much less my employer's so don't blame Time Magazine, Time Inc. or Time-Warner for anything written here. They're having enough problems convincing the FCC, the FTC and the EU to go along with the AOL merger.

James Colburn (aka james.colburn@pressroom.com)

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