THE NEWS OLYMPICS
Due to numerous complaints from the broadcast networks, there will be no athletes or fans at the 2006 Winter Olympics. Instead, only professional journalists and their families, members in good standing of the International Olympic Committee, event judges, and local residents of the area where the games are being held will be allowed in.
At the 2002 games in Salt Lake City, Utah, network executives (who requested to remain anonymous) complained that "raucous fans were crowding out the journalists." In a written complaint to the IOC, one network (again remaining nameless) complained that "the public was taking up all the decent hotel rooms, crowding the competition areas, and making it generally impossible for us in the media to do our job."
"They were crowding us out", one nationally-known news anchor complained. "We came here to do important work -- keep the public informed -- and the fans kept interfering and getting in front of us and making noise and doing all kinds of things that detracted from the real business of news reporting. So, they had to go."
But it wasn't only the public who got in the way; the athletes also interfered with the timely gathering and reporting of the news.
"Every time I tried to do a stand-up report I was interrupted by some athlete wanting to skate through, or ski by, or do something," one news anchor from a tiny station in Iowa said. "They seemed to feel that the ski runs and skating rinks and other competitive areas were for their exclusive use, and I, for one, think it's high time that they learned their rightful place in the scheme of things. They might have a few seconds of glory once in a lifetime -- or even once every four years -- but we have to stand up and do this job day in and day out. It's high time we got a little respect."
So, instead of watching unknown athletes from third world countries compete in sports we have never heard of, we will now be able to watch blow-dried talking heads from the national networks compete to see who can make the biggest fool of themselves. We can watch them falling down trying to learn to ski, rolling around in the snow, mugging for the camera, and modeling ski jackets and berets and other Olympic memorabilia. All the while telling us how important and wonderful and beautiful they are.
Needless to say, there will be a whole raft of new "officially recognized" Olympic sports. A partial list just released by the IOC includes:
This list is only preliminary; the final schedule must be approved by all of the networks, two thirds of the news anchors, and at least half of the small town reporters. The IOC can make recommendations, but they won't be binding.
It is not yet known whether the broadcast will be available to the general public, or if they will have to watch the latest reruns of the most recent network series.