Work in Sports
All about Bob
Fun and Games for Costas as Olympics enters Week 2
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.
"Don't you know that I'm busy?" Bob Costas intoned in mock anger over the phone moments after NBC signed off the air at 2 a.m. Eastern Daylight time Monday night.
Costas, our cruise director for the Sydney Games, is both busy and buoyant as NBC rounds the turn into the final week of its coverage. He is genuinely enjoying himself, whether it be attending evening events -- something that the prime-time broadcast schedule precluded him from doing in Atlanta -- or interviewing some of the U.S. gold-medal winners, such swimmer Gary Hall Jr., with whom he spoke last Friday night.
"I mentioned his comment about smashing the Aussies like guitars and told him that when I was his age it was The Who who were famous for doing that," says Costas, 48. "[Hall] told me that he was actually listening to The Who when he thought of that barb.
The NBC host empathizes with the viewers when it comes to the frustration many have expressed concerning the dearth of live coverage. "I like stuff that has as much immediacy as possible," says Costas, "but I understand that the coverage has to be on tape. As the Canadian Broadcasting Company ratings have shown, we'd get killed in the ratings if we aired events live. The last time I checked, NBC is not a not-for-profit company."
With NBC owning exclusive U.S. broadcast rights to the Games, other networks such as CNN/SI, ESPN and FOX are prohibited from bringing their cameras into the Olympic ring. The non-rights holders have had to be creative and resourceful in landing interviews with athletes, particuarly since they can't shoot at the competition venues.
"I totally depend on the good graces of the media relations people for a particular sport," says ESPN's Steve Cyphers, who this time of the year would normally be trolling the sidelines of a college football game. "All of us non-NBC people are in the same situation. We've bonded. We call ourselves Team Cable."
Gold to : NBC track and field commentator Tom Hammond. On Friday night, after she had won her 100-meter semifinal, Marion Jones was asked by NBC's Jim Gray if she had been having any nightmares. To be fair, she had mentioned something about nightmares to Gray during the Olympic track trials last July. Jones graciously said that she had not. When Hammond took back the reins, he said, "Thanks a lot for planting that thought, Jim."
Best tears: U.S. 10-meter platform diving gold medalist Laura Wilkinson .
Best smile: Jones, by an even greater margin than her victories. Hers is the face of a princess but in most of her pre-Olympic TV or print ads, she wears a scowl. Nike should have been marketing that smile a long, long time ago.
Check back Wednesday for another installment of The Channel Guy. The opinions
expressed here are solely those of the writer.