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Olympic Memories and Technology

Mar 20th, 2014 | By | Category: Nick Kemper's Blog

Nick KemperUntil last year, shop we did not have a DVR in our house. Until two years ago, we did not have satellite TV or cable. We had one of those digital converter boxes for our analog TV, and we had a rabbit-ear antenna. Yes, it was old school.

Now that we have satellite and a DVR, I utilized it fully during the Winter Olympics. I recorded every event shown on NBC, NBCSN, USA, MSNBC, CNBC and I think maybe a Siberian pirate station.

I love the Olympics, especially the Winter Olympics, and I have to say what I am appreciated the most out of the experience was the variety of events and announcers required by five different cable networks broadcasting the events. What I didn’t realize, having watched too much major network sports in my life, is how much better some minor sports announcers and commentators are than the ones who have entrenched themselves into the marquee seats. Bob Costas, Al Michaels, Dan Patrick, Matt Lauer – I’m okay with all of them, they did fine with the hub job. It’s the events announcers I really came to like. Chad Salmela did the Cross Country Skiing events, and I found myself simultaneously enthralled by how exciting he made them and actually laughing out loud at some of his descriptions (“She went too soon! She flew too close to the sun and melted her wings!”)

I fast-forwarded through most of the figure skating, but I thought that Terry Gannon, Tara Lipinski, and Johnny Weir were an amazing team. Weir and Lipinski are masters at explaining the art and technique of figure skating without dominating the broadcast and Gannon is a former basketball player who created a perfect balance for the three of them. Kenny Albert and AJ Mleczko were excellent during the women’s hockey broadcasts, and although I thought Natalie Darwitz was a little strange at first, I really came to like her by the end of the women’s hockey tournament, because she obviously didn’t give a crap that she seemed a little strange.

When the Canadian Women’s team scored two late goals to tie the game and send it to overtime, and she was asked what the U.S. team was thinking in the locker room, she didn’t hesitate: “They’re rattled. They were 3 ½ minutes away from the gold medal, and now they might lose.” She has played on that team, with many of those players, and she didn’t try to sugarcoat anything. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I am really tired of seeing men’s sporting events on TV with no women announcers or analysts. Is there any reason why AJ Mleczko can’t work an NHL game? We’ve been listening to the same boring men broadcast women’s sports for years – I say every sporting event should be covered by a man/woman team.

So for me, it was the richness of the variety that made an impact on me. I didn’t watch every shot in curling, but I watched enough to get caught up in it (my family started groaning every time they came into the room and curling was on.) The cross-country skiing events were phenomenal. Snowboard Cross was a blast. The Bronze and Gold Medal Women’s Hockey games were two of the best hockey games I’ve ever watched. I’m no homer, either. I won’t chant “USA” at any sporting event. If anything, I think the U.S. athletes sometimes get way too much attention by the U.S. media, which is totally not their fault.

I want to know about Ole Einar Bjorndalen and how the heck he got 13 Olympic medals. I want to know how Aleksandr Zubkov can kick everyone’s bobsled butt at age 39. I want to know that the goal that clinched the Bronze Medal for the Swiss Women’s Hockey team was scored by a 15-year-old Alina Muller. I like watching the best athletes and the best performances, not the best-funded.

But what troubles me is this dichotomy of the richness of all of the data and information within our reach, and the richness of the experience of our life. If I am in front of a TV at midnight watching sporting events from three weeks ago, I’m not “living.” I am spectating. If I am at a gathering of people, and I am looking at my phone, I am not in the moment. I am out of the moment, or distracted from the moment. I’m torn between the convenience and value of technology and our inability to adapt physiologically and emotionally to a world that changes so quickly. When my son spends hours on the internet watching videos of other people playing video games, I want him to flee the screen, but when my wife makes corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day from a recipe she found on the internet, I appreciate that we are all so connected.

Deep down, I’m anti-progress. I believe that food allergies are probably the result of converting to farm production that focuses on grains about 10,000 years ago, and our anatomy just can’t evolve quickly enough to adapt. Our gut is still expecting meat from the kill and found food. Of course, all of the chemicals we now use don’t help.

Of course, none of this has anything to do directly with towing or selling parts. The reality of that is I’m about four years into this blog and there is little un-mined territory there. So you’re stuck with what’s on my mind at the moment.

Have a safe and profitable week.

Nick Kemper