Saturday, February 27, 2010

Really, NBC? Are you THAT obvious?

(Yes, yes, it's another Olympics post.)

OK, in case you missed it, here's what went down.  Apolo Ohno is in the 500m finals.  Which is pretty impressive, actually, as he's skating against folks that are ranked 1 and 2 in the world in this event, and he's like 9th.  So he's kind of outclassed, and he knows it.  

So, they're off -- there are two Canadians, a South Korean, and Ohno.  Ohno is pretty much back of the pack the entire race.  Near the end, he tries to make a move for third.  Does this.  In the process, puts his hand on the butt of the Canadian dude in front of him.  Canadian dude slides out (in what appears to be the precise direction in which Ohno is pushing him) and crashes.  Meantime, South Korean guy and other Canadian guy have some sort of interaction, and the South Korean also goes flying.  Other Canadian Guy finishes first and Ohno second, because they're the only ones left standing.

There's a good chance Ohno is going to get DQ'd for this.  (NBC quickly cuts away from Ohno -- perhaps they don't want to air him celebrating the medal they don't think he's going to get, or maybe he doesn't think he's going to get it either.  Can't say.)  NBC commentators go to the tape, and it looks like Ohno pushed the guy.  NBC can't bring themselves to say "It looks like a DQ to us," and instead say, "If Canadian guy didn't fall, Ohno probably could have gotten away with it..."  (But, of course, he did fall, and the unspoken conclusion is that Ohno is totally going to get DQ'd.)  They also look at the tape of South Korean guy and other Canadian guy, and NBC is positive there's no DQ there.  They say it looks totally like South Korean guy fell of his own accord, and even grabbed at other Canadian guy's skate.  But NBC is pretty adamant that other Canadian guy's gold is solid and there will be no DQ for him, and pretty sure things don't look quite so good for Ohno.

Ohno gets DQd; other Canadian guy doesn't.  So, yeah, NBC called it correctly. 

They interview Ohno.  I've always liked Ohno because he seems smart and handles himself well in interviews.  Generally not a sore loser (or sore winner) at all.  Just a decent sportsman.

Not so much today.  Ohno says he didn't deserve to get DQ'd.  He wasn't pushing the guy, just holding his hand out as a cushion so he didn't run into him.  (Now, normally I'd think this is bull, as Canadian guy didn't seem the type to just fly off his skates for no good reason -- but, hey, based on past experience, I'll cut Ohno some slack and think that maybe he wants to protect his reputation as someone who doesn't flagrantly foul other skaters.  At the same time, though, he's going on about how all the other skaters were really fast and he had to try a move -- and it almost sounds like he knew he was getting beat and figured he'd try a questionable pass, because he wasn't going to win anyway, so thought he'd take a shot.)  

But then, Ohno says that, well, the ref was Canadian, and we're on Canadian soil, and the dude he (allegedly) pushed was Canadian, and you do the math.  Actually, NBC asks Ohno to do the math, and Ohno takes the bait, expressly saying that, yeah, he thinks national bias played a part in that call.  (He goes on to say something about how it's all subjective -- which is maybe a quarter-assed way of saying what he should have said, which is, "I disagree, but I respect the ref's call.")

OK, fine.  Ohno's not happy and being a little childish here.  I'm disappointed that he wasn't his otherwise decent self, but I'm ready to move on.

Not so much NBC.  Ohno is one of NBC's annointed heroes of the games.  A dude to watch.  (Seemingly the only American short-track skater they've bothered to profile -- well, excepting that dude who had cut himself with his own skate and almost bled out.  Because, y'know, that's good TV.)  So NBC can't just leave it at Ohno being a little petulant.

They go to the tape.  They say, "Ohno said there's bias from the Canadian ref."  They show Ohno's "tiny little bit of contact" with the butt of the Canadian skater, for which he got DQ'd.  They then show a "similar tiny little bit of contact" between the OTHER Canadian dude and the South Korean dude, and they even note the contact between the other Canadian dude's skate and the South Korean dude, and note that Other Canadian dude did not get DQ'd for that.  Never mind that they'd looked at that tape a zillion times before and said the contact was all South Korean dude's fault, and there was no reason for Other Canadian dude to get DQ'd.  Never mind that South Korean dude reached for Other Canadian dude's skate while he was falling.  It's now Other Canadian dude's fault and he didn't get DQ'd for that, so it backs up Ohno's claim of national bias on the part of the ref.

Shame on you, NBC.  Revisionist history to support the claim of your star athlete.  Accusing the ref of bias and a bad call, although the Aussie ref who DQ'd the South Korean team from the ladies' relay -- based on a remarkably similarly small amount of contact -- was not questioned, perhaps because it resulted in the US team being bumped up into the bronze medal position.  Hell, this short track telecast actually started with NBC pointing out that the Aussie ref had been taken out of the competition for his safety, after he'd received death threats as a result of that call.  And rather than you guys stepping up and saying the Canadian ref's call on Ohno was consistent with the Aussie ref's call on South Korea, and the refs are just being really strict at these Games, you instead take Ohno's side on this and do a complete 180 on whether Ohno's DQ was legitimate (and whether the other Canadian guy should have been DQ'd).

Bad network.  BAD.

(One might say one would have preferred to see this kind of loyalty with Conan O'Brien.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good read, but at that velocity, even a push with a pinky could set them off. Ohno is known for these "tiny contacts", and usually he gets away with it, which pissed off a lot of ppl. This time karma caught up with him.