Elliott Denman’s Friday column is on the variety of announcing and award ceremony practices as he travels around the London Olympic venues. He has some modest suggestions. And he lis looking forward to seeing Track & Field!
By Elliott Denman
August 3, 2012
LONDON – Having ridden the Olympic buslines for nearly a week now, and thus able to get a sample of activities at divergent venues, we’re here to tell you there’s a world of difference in the matter of Olympic presentation.
Some Olympic sports jazz it up to the zillionth degree.
Take Olympic basketball, for one.
It’s being played at – where else? – the Basketball Arena in the hub area of Olympic Park.
There’s an emcee warming up the crowd before the game, through timeouts, halftime and all the way to the end, any chance he can get in between,
“Who’s here to cheer for Tunisia?” he asked the other night. The response he got was polite and minimal.
“Who’s here rooting for the United States of America?”
The response: oh, do my eardrums still ache over that one.
There are dancing girls strutting their stuff at the breaks, double-dutching boys flipping all over themselves at halftime, and more.
And, throughout, lots and lots of noise.
Take Olympic swimming, for another.
There’s a team of announcers at the Aquatics Centre streaming out every possible stat at every possible opportunity, even during races.
Anything you’d ever want to know about these guys – what Michael Phelps had for breakfast, what Ryan Lochte’s splits were the day he broke his first junior high butterfly record, what Missy Franklin thinks about the Euro crisis – it’s all out there.
The guys at the swimming mikes are simply relentless. There’s no limit to their verbiage,
For all to share, whether they care to or not
Take Olympic weightlifting, for one more.
The lead announcer here stresses education, obviously figuring that all those who’d happened onto their sport at the ExCel Arena got there bypure accident, having thought they’d be catching a session of judo or fencing or table tennis.
It’s clear that the mikeman thinks his audience has no clear idea what constitutes a legal snatch – squat style or split style, of course – and what turns a perfectly-good-looking clean and jerk into a “no lift.”
So to the many who need a help in gathering such vital insights, it’s a help.
Then again, to those who already know a few things about what it takes to succeed in “the iron game,” it’s downright superfluous.
Now, let’s get to the whole matter of the medals presentations.
Typically – probably by command of some obscure clause in The Olympic Charter – otherwise known as The Bible – the golds, the silvers andthe bronzes are placed around the 1-2-3 success story-athlete’ necks by some high-ranking dignitary of that sport’s international federation.
In addition to their medals, they get flowers.
The women get kisses – totally genteel pecks of both cheeks- while the men get handshakes.
No one in his right five-ringed mind is ever going to believe that these federation folks are ever going to relinquish their roles in the ceremonial protocol world.
But here’s the one the real fans of the Olympics, the real aficionados of the Games would truly appreciate.
How about bringing in some magnificent champion of each particular event’s Olympic history to join the federationists, sharing in the glory of it all, in the ceremonial procedure?
That would be just a wonderful/wonderful/wonderful way to both honor those greats and honor the whole history of the Games.
The crowds – paying heavy poundage for their ducats here in London- would surely appreciate it.
The greats being called back for podium duty would surely appreciate it.
But it’s always been perfectly clear that the federation suits wouldn’t appreciate it at all.
The fuddy-duddies are not going taking a back seat to anyone, no matter the extent of the dossier the past champions might bring into the arena.
Harrison Dillard, for instance, is here in London.
He won the 100-meter dash in the second London Olympic Games, in 1948, pulling one of the biggest upset wins in Olympic annals, all on the way to a four-gold, two-Games career.
Kip Keino is in London, too.
He was the man who, in 1968, in elegant fashion, led the way to Kenya’s now almost total domination of steeplechase racing, and virtually everyother branch of distance running, too.
Dick Fosbury is another champion of champions on the premises.
All this Oregon Stater did was turn the high jump event inside out, and upside down, with his revolutionary “flop” rout e to the 1968 gold medal, and his event has never, ever been the same.
And surely there are lots more just like them here in London.
But you’ll have toencounter them somewhere else because you know darn well you won’t see them at ceremony time.
Athletics – you know, track and field – action opens on Friday.
And, please, just please, let’s just hope it’s not jazzed up the way they’ve been doing at other venues around town.
We don’t need a ceaselessly babbling announcer to stir upthe crowd. We don’t need to know Tyson Gay’s dinner plans. We don’t need to know Mo Farah’s teen-aged splits.
But we sure could use the sight of some immortal of the sport’s storied past playing a role in honoring the greats of the sport’s present.
Will we get our wish?
Bottom line: Not likely.
Then again, “hang in there,” fans.
Let “the real sport” of the Games, the heart and soul of it all, begins.