Gil LeBreton, you get my vote for most pinheaded commentator of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics.
Mr. LeBreton wrote the following for McClatchy Newspapers:
After a spirited torch relay ignited pride in every corner of the country, the Olympic Games began and quickly galvanized the nation.
Flags were everywhere. The country’s national symbol hung from windows and was worn on nearly everyone’s clothing.
Fervent crowds cheered every victory by the host nation.
But enough about the 1936 Berlin Olympics.
Well, Gil, if you want me to take you seriously, don’t compare Canada to Nazi Germany and the Maple Leaf to a Swastika.
This … American found the Vancouver Games to be too overtly patriotic. I repeat, this guy is American.
He complains about how the broadcasting focused on Canadian athletes (disclosure: I work for CTV.ca News, which is part of CTV, the host broadcaster of the 2010 Winter Olympics), but I’m wondering if he’s ever seen American broadcasting of the Olympics.
Actually, can he find a reference to Canada on the weather maps of any border-area U.S. TV news show?
Some of his comparisons are ludicrous:
China sold 6.8 million tickets to its 2008 Summer Olympics. Vancouver only made 1.6 million available. The Canadians wanted to “Own the Podium,” but organizers made sure that they owned the grandstands at each venue as well.
The summer Games are a far larger competition than the winter version, and LeBreton should know that. His comparison is wildly misleading.
If he wants to snivel about jingoism, he should have finished his column with “so 1984.” Were you in Los Angeles, Gil? See any jingoism there? How about in Lake Placid in 1980, Atlanta in 1996 or Salt Lake City in 2002?
I’m sure if one were to poll the domestic audience in any host nation, they would say they are most interested in their country’s athletes. I’m sure this was true in Torino, Salt Lake City, Nagano, Lillehammer, Albertville and Calgary, just to name a few. To criticize domestic media for telling the stories of their country’s athletes is foolish.
Frankly, I was made quite aware of some of the stellar feats by U.S. athletes, although my favourite is Petra Majdic of Slovenia, who broke ribs and punctured a lung in a training run mishap, but who went on to win a bronze medal in cross-country skiing. She was awarded the Terry Fox Award, along with Canada’s Joannie Rochette, the young Quebec figure skater whose mother died shortly before Rochette was to compete.
J-Source had a round-up of European media coverage , along with a summary (and some good comments) about a panel discussion on The Current, a CBC Radio One show, about media coverage of the Olympics.
Q, another CBC Radio One show, had a panel last Friday with Rabble.ca’s Judy Rebick, Toronto Star publisher John Cruickshank and failed Globe and Mail managing editor Margaret Wente about the Olympics and the news media. Here’s the podcast of that episode.
The panel starts about a quarter of the way in.
Sample quote: “I think the media has been wonderfully Canadian … You’ve got to see American coverage during a U.S. Olympics to see how understated we are,” said Cruickshank, a former Chicago-based publisher with Hollinger Inc.