"Chauvinism" and Olympic TV

Every four years some people moan and hand-wring about American TV's excessive focus on American athletes and the Olympic events where Americans are likely to win medals.

These people need to get out more.

Or at least they need to spend a little time watching CCTV in China. Today's early morning and evening Olympic coverage -- was gone in the interim, at a real Olympic venue about which more later -- focused heavily on events like Women's Air Pistol (Gold medal: China), Men's Air Pistol (Gold medal: China), Women's 48kg Weightlifting (Gold medal: China), Men's 56kg Weightlifting (Gold medal: China), and... you get the idea.

This applied even to coverage of the Sunday morning's swimming finals, Saturday night in the US. This is not a strong category for China, but after each race the replays and interview were with whatever Chinese swimmer had made it into the finals. When that swimmer did well, as with the silver medalist in the 400m men's freestyle, there was a happy-seeming interview. In the other cases, including when swimmers dragged in dead last, there would be a stiff-upper-lip interview with the athlete and melancholy -- I will say mawkish -- shots of the coach or parents getting teary-eyed in the stands.

This is normal! I switched just now to Korean TV, where I saw the Korean team playing soccer. Then NHK, the Japanese network, with a badminton doubles match involving a Japanese team.

The Olympic Games are for "the youth of the world," but they're organized and scored by countries. It's no surprise that countries treat them as vehicles of national pride, and assume that their people will be most interested in their own athletes. So anybody who was saving up to write an angry letter, blog post, or op-ed about NBC's chauvinistic coverage: don't bother! They're actually more above-the-fray than most. Also, their coverage is not shown anywhere except America -- I know, it's because I can't get it that I'm watching Women's Air Pistol -- so can't ruffle feathers elsewhere.

Now, I have to get back to listening to CCTV announcers yell piaoliang! -- "beautiful!" -- whenever Yao Ming sinks a three-pointed in the US-China basketball game now turning into a runaway. (And in fairness, they've said piaoliang! after some shots by LeBron and Kobe too.)