Work in Sports
True soccer fanatics
Sports Illustrated media columnist John Walters checks in three times a week during the Olympics with his coverage of the coverage of the Sydney Games.
Joe Javidara opened his Arlington, Va.-based sports bar a little early on Tuesday, at 4 a.m., only a few hours after closing. Javidara opened the doors of Summers to dozens of ravenous soccer fans eager to digest the U.S.-Kuwait men's match live.
"We're known as a soccer bar," says Javidara, 46, "People come here all the time to watch matches from overseas. When a few of the regulars begged us to show this match, we couldn't let them down."
Charging $12 per head, Javidara welcomed roughly five dozen soccer diehards to the Summers Olympics, as it were. No alcohol was served ("We can't start pouring drinks until 8 a.m.," says Javidara) but patrons were treated to a complimentary continental breakfast and a 3-1 American victory.
Summers is equipped with a digital satellite transponder and converter, high-tech gadgets that cost approximately $40,000. Those expensive toys allowed Javidara to access the Kuwaiti television feed from Melbourne and show the match live. Unless NBC's lawyers raise a huff -- and they just may upon reading this -- Javidara plans to air Saturday's quarterfinal match, which will air either at 3:30 a.m or 5 a.m. live as well.
"We did not make any money on this deal," says Javidara. "We just want our customers who want to watch the games live to be able to do that. NBC could air the games live if they wanted to, but they don't. They don't care about the sport; they care about their money."
Javidara's admonishment may be a tad severe -- Summers invested tens of thousands of dollars in a satellite apparatus while NBC invested $705 million for 17 days worth of Olympic coverage -- but you have to wonder whether NBC might accrue some goodwill and generate much-needed buzz by airing just one event final live. After five days of coverage, despite the best efforts of a talented cast of commentators, studio hosts and producers, it's obvious that these Olympics are operating in a prime-time drama vacuum.
NBC daytime studio host Hannah Storm, who is working her third consecutive Summer Games, has never seen an Olympic event in person. "You're so wrapped up in doing your job, getting enough sleep and reading up on the research," says Storm, who is five months pregnant. "Mostly in my free time I'm foraging for food down here."
By the Numbers: NBC has 67 commentators and studio hosts in Sydney. If its on-air talent was an athletic delegation, the network would have more participants than 142 of the 199 nations competing in these Games.
Studio hosts Bob Costas, Jim Lampley and Pat O'Brien did not lug their entire wardrobes across the Pacific for this assignment. Their sartorial needs have been met by designer Joseph Abboud, who has supplied some 200 suits and 500 ties for the Games.
A gold medal to boxing reporter Fred Roggin for ... exposing the questionable practice of interlopers sneaking peeks at TV monitors that showed the round-by-round scores and flashing them to boxers' corners. This offense was not tantamount to EPO doping but rather a marriage of technology and human nature. Roggin conveyed the proper tone in covering it for CNBC.
A fool's gold to Ahmad Rashad... for his stroll in the zoo with U.S. basketball star Kevin Garnett. Rashad, like some of the indigenous creatures that he and Garnett observed, seems only to flourish in one habitat: the exclusive ecosystem of NBA eight (and nine) -figure wage earners.
Not every piece need be Chariots of Fire, but then again, not every one need be NBA Inside Stuff Down Under, either. After the segment Rashad, seated in the studio with Costas, reported that "Kevin is one of the highest-paid athletes in the world and he is having a great time at the Olympics."
Gettin' paid and livin' large. That's the (Olympic) spirit.
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