A few thoughts on the Olympic spirit and #NBCfail

I’ve been really frustrated by NBC’s decisions regarding Olympic broadcasts. The corny athlete profiles are bad enough and so too were the various derisive and dismissive comments during the parade of nations at the end of the wonderfully quirky opening ceremonies.

But I’ve been most frustrated by the tape delays. I’d pay extra to stream sports via computer, since almost all of my media is internet-driven these days. But I could only sign up for those live feeds if I had a bigger Comcast cable package. I don’t want or need a bigger cable package — I’m an online consumer. I hardly ever watch TV. And, given the general connectedness to media and news, it would be frustratingly hard not to hear in advance about results. So count me among those occasionally using the hashtag #NBCfail on Twitter.

So what a pleasure today to see the men’s 10,000 meters live. I’ve always loved watching track — way more than other marquee Olympic sports like swimming or gymnastics — and I’ve always loved distance running in particular.

And NBC’s lengthy pre-race profile of Mo Farah avoided triteness. And Farah ended up the winner in the 29-man field.

But there were human and international stories that went much deeper.

Mohammed Farah is a Muslim who was born in Somalia. His father was a British citizen, and he moved to England when he was 8. In early 2011, he moved to Portland, Oregon to work with coach Alberto Salazar. Salazar was born in Cuba, emigrated to the U.S. with his family, and became a world-class distance runner before teaming up with Nike to train athletes.

One of those runners was Galen Rupp, a Portland native, whom Salazar began training more than a decade ago. For over a year, Rupp and Farah have run together almost daily.

And today the tall blond American and the dark-skinned Brit, being watched by their Cuban-born coach, dominated the final lap of the 10,000 m to finish first and second.

I was hoping for a post-race interview from the stadium with all three men — Farah, Rupp, and Salazar — but here came Jimmy Roberts with a cloying profile of 37-year old gymnast Oksana Chusovitina, who seems like she’s a pretty heroic woman. “Time marches on,” the profile began, while no doubt some journalist was getting some great video and audio of Farah, Rupp, and Salazar celebrating their historic achievements.

Spoiler alert:

So we got to see that thrilling race live, but not the British wins in the heptathlon or long jump. And I didn’t get to see Michael Phelps’ final Olympic race live either. #NBCfail

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