I remember the first Olympics that I watched as a child. It was 1972. I was ten years old. We had an eighteen-inch black and white Zenith television. We had to adjust the rabbit ears each time we changed the channel, or when someone walked into the room. No remote control, of course. No DVR. No VCR. No streaming. After we turned it on, it took about a minute to warm up.
The Olympics were televised on a single channel, ABC, which was channel 6 in my home town of Philadelphia. It seemed that the entire two weeks was narrated by Jim McKay and Chris Schenkel, who, by the end of the broadcast, seemed like old friends.
It’s now forty-four years later, 2016. I have a 56” high definition flat screen TV. A perfect picture with no adjustments needed. I have two DVRs, so I can record every minute of the Olympics and watch my favorite events. It’s televised on so many channels, I can’t even keep track: NBC, NBC Sports Network, USA, MSNBC, CNBC, Bravo, and the Golf Channel. Apparently, there are eleven channels in all. Wow! This is luxury!
I sat down on the couch and brought up the cable guide, so I could decide what to record on the DVR, and it was overwhelming. There are approximately 356 hours of TV coverage per day, for 19 days, which, according to NBC, adds up to 6,755 hours of programming. Programming the DVR for the Olympics is not fun or relaxing. It’s even stressful! I sat for thirty minutes and programmed what I wanted to watch the first day, and I was exhausted.
I remember when I watched the Olympics in 1972, it was fun and relaxing. I would turn on the TV, which was set to channel 6 for two plus weeks, and the Olympics were always on. I remember looking forward to the next day to turn on the TV and watch more Olympics.
My whole family watched it with me. I remember sitting intently, watching and enjoying the events. Sure it was on a small black and white standard definition television that needed to be fine tuned, and occasionally had to have the vertical hold adjusted, but that was all we knew, and it didn’t matter. We thought it was awesome that the Olympics were happening in Munich, and through the magic of satellites, we were able to watch it in our living room. Awesome!
I remember the details of the events. I remember watching Mark Spitz swim freestyle, butterfly, and relay and win seven gold medals. I remember watching Olga Korbut win three gold medals in gymnastics. I remember watching the US men’s basketball team get robbed of the gold medal when the officials allowed the final three seconds of the game to be replayed–twice–until the Soviet team finally scored a basket and won the game by one point. And I remember the horror of the massacre of the Israeli athletes–the Munich Massacre.
Back to 2016. It’s now Monday, the third full day of Olympic events. I started by turning on the TV, to see what was on live. First I checked NBC. Men’s synchronized diving. Then I searched the guide and saw that the NBC Sports Channel was showing men’s weightlifting. I watched that for a few minutes. It was fine, but I had to check to see if there was something better. Because I can. I looked through what I had recorded and found women’s team volleyball. I enjoy watching that. A match can go on for hours and I find it relaxing to watch. I have fond memories of watching volleyball matches from past Olympics. So put down the remote and started watching. On the 56 inch high def flat screen TV. Luxury, right?
But, it’s not 1972 anymore. I couldn’t just watch the match. Not with my smart phone in my left hand, and my computer in front of me. Not with unread Facebook posts, text messages, emails, and blog posts. And I suddenly felt inspired to write this blog post to complain about it.
Now it’s two hours later. I’m caught up on Facebook. I’ve read all my emails. No outstanding texts. And this post is almost finished. And the volleyball match on my luxurious TV is over. I don’t know who won. I don’t even know who was playing.