Live from New York … it’s the Beijing Olympics

Watching the overnight, live coverage of the Olympics on USA Network has been interesting. One huge thing caught my eye, or rather my ear. When equestrian dressage and soccer started, the NBC announcers took care to note that they were watching the action “along with the audience” from the NBC studios in New York.

It struck me as odd that at least two live events would be called out of a broadcasting booth 6,800 miles away. I wonder how many events will be aired like this.

Part of me thinks its a little ridiculous. If these announcers are “watching along with the audience,” why have professionals do the call at all? Wouldn’t an equestrian enthusiast perhaps have an equal chance to provide some interesting insights to a general audience? Especially when I’m fairly sure they spend a considerable amount of time trying to explain their sport to people.

Still, I can think of a couple possible reasons why they would do this. It might be the best way to cover some of the less-mainstream events when the alternative is to not cover them at all. I can scarcely imagine how much NBC is paying to produce its coverage when the license fees cost hundreds of millions of dollars. Maybe not flying some staff to China helps save costs.

I’m sure there are a few dirty secrets about airing a huge sporting competition halfway around the globe. Sometimes the announcers don’t record their play-by-play until after an event ends when they know it’s going to air later on tape. Also having broadcasters do a play-by-play far removed from the playing pitch is a trick that goes back to the days when there was just radio.

Ultimately, I guess it’s a good thing that they’re noting that the announcers aren’t on-site. Although the Internet and other near-instantaneous media have their advantages, I think someone who’s actually present has a unique perspective that a broadcast booth in Rockefeller Center can’t match.

The live Games – Part of me really wants to get into badminton and equestrian dressage, but the tired, up-since-9-a.m. part of me just wants to go to bed. Still, kudos to Katerina Emmons of Croatia for winning the first gold of these games for an air rifle event. She won shortly after the West Coast airing of the Opening Ceremonies ended.

The Opening Ceremonies – I didn’t get a chance to watch much of the ceremony while I was at a house party. There were some pretty rabid Oakland Raiders fans who wanted to watch a pre-season game instead of a show recorded 15 hours ago.

One thing stood out as I watched Yao Ming and Lin Hao, his young companion who survived the Sichuan earthquake. Lin Hao’s Chinese flag was upside down, which is either a sign of protest or distress in the United States (it most often generates ire when it’s flown in protest). Repeated displays of such an image stood out in what was otherwise a carefully and beautifully choreographed event.

The glances that I saw of the 4.5-hour event were pretty spectacular and I managed to see the climatic cauldron lighting. Good thing there’s a repeat of this taped event airing right now so I can catch up.

Online – Have I mentioned that you can keep up with the Games with’s Olympics section? I’m just saying. 😉