Enough Already!

I am, of course, an Olympics junkie. And I’ve spend countless hours already glued to NBC’s various outlets’ coverage of sports as diverse as equestrian 3-day eventing, badminton, and the ubiquitous swimming.

I love the swimming. I love tall men with arms long enough to hug the world clad in lycra, or sometimes barely clad in lycra. Do you suppose they half strip those suits off just so we can see exactly how shaved down they are?

And NBC is doing a pretty good job, whether the commentators are at the venue or in New York, they mostly seem awake on all counts and provide the kind of information you need, whether neophyte or afficionado.

I’m particularly happy with Andrea Kremer as the poolside interviewer. First of all, and probably most importantly, she’s a really really good interviewer. She asks good questions, listens to the answers (when the director is yelling in her ear, that has to be hard), and handles the task with appropriate composed excitement.

But there’s one rotten spot in my Olympic apple. Her name is Cynthia Potter. NBC decided to continue to employ as a diving commentator a woman with a dramatic command of the obvious who at the same time has a tenuous command of her facts and, worst of all, has the most annoying, loudest, unmodulated fingernails on a blackboard voice in the history of sports broadcasting. I’d take Dick Vitale over this woman in a heartbeat. And I HATE Dick Vitale.

The voice is horrible. The timbre high, the quality nasal, and she says nearly everything at the same unmodulated yell, except when she decides to accent a word in a sentence completely AT random. “But Diva,” you say, “shes a former diver. What besides her voice bothers you?” Here are just a few examples from Tuesday night’s women’s synchronized diving broadcast.

In discussing U.S. team Dunnichay and Ishimatsu, she brought up the fact that Ishimatsu’s whole family had moved to Indianapolis (site of the U.S. Olympic Training Center) so that the divers could train together and then said (I’m not making this up), that it’s really important for synchronized divers to live in the same place so they can train together. Ya think?

“Ok, Diva,” you say, “That’s just a slip. In hours of competition, she’s bound to slip up once or twice.” Fine. Let’s stick just to the commentary on the diving, in which she is supposed to be an expert.

On their first dive, the U.S. pair scored right around 50 and Potter’s professional announcer nonexpert sidekick wondered if that was good enough. Potter said it was as good as could be expected and it didn’t matter, other teams wouldn’t score more than 55 or so. Just a few minutes later, the Chinese pair, Wang and Chen, accomplished around a 55 and Potter said that’s why they’re so dominant, they jump out to that early lead and are hard to catch. Does she listen to herself? Does she have short-term memory loss from her head’s impact on the water during all those years of diving?

“Well maybe, Diva,” you say, “she’s better at dissecting the actual dives.” Oh, no, kittens, not really. On the first dive by the Chinese pair she went on and on about their amazing synchronization, when I, not a former diver, not an expert, could easily see that one diver dove with her arms spread wide from her body and the other with her elbows close to her body. This is on the dive that earned the 55-ish score.

So forgive me if I say, enough is enough. Couldn’t NBC find someone (Greg Louganis is interested) with the expertise, sense, and acuity necessary and without the horrible voice?

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39 Responses to Enough Already!

  1. mota says:

    Oh god please remove this woman! I have been a diving judge (not professional) but could she pick the studpidest things to comment on, rather than the execution! This is painful to watch no! LISTEN to! MUTE. MUTE. MUTE!!

  2. Mister CAG says:

    Is Cynthia Potter that dope who says things like “That’s one of the things the judges look for: does the dive look pretty? They want to make sure the divers are synchronized, and that… they just look… pretty.”

    And they call that “color commentary”?

  3. sportsdiva says:

    Oh yes, that’s her. She almost never says anything a nonexpert can’t pick out easily. And she NEVER shuts up.

  4. ktgirl says:

    Email nbcolympicsfeedback@nbcuni.com to let them know she needs to go!!

  5. Karen says:

    This woman needs to go – she is by far the worst announcer of diving – she is rude and ruins the experience for all of us. NBC needs to get rid of her…….thanks for the feedback link – I just want her to go away!

  6. Scratch says:

    Potter must be destroyed. She makes diving unwatchable unless it’s on mute. And then I can’t learn more about the divers as they’re performing.

    I disagree with your praise of Kremer though. Some of her questions are terrible. I don’t think asking a swimmer “What did it take to win this race?” is a great question. In her defense, the selection of questions she’s allowed to and/or capable of asking is limited.

    But back to Cynthia. Someone PLEASE find some dirt on her to get her off the air. Maybe she secretly runs an underground dogfighting ring. And if she doesn’t, let’s start a rumor tha she does.

  7. sarah says:

    I SO agree with Scratch. We have started watching the Diving events but only on mute, due to Cynthia’s nauseating narrative. All I can think of is she a Nancy Grace wanna-be-be (as to why anyone can wonder) and I want to puke!!!!!!

  8. John says:

    Ran across your blog because I was looking for someone who shared my opinion of Cynthia Potter. I agree with the previous comments.

  9. Donna says:

    AMEN to the comments about this annoying know-it-all “commentator”. I just googled her to find out what her background is, because she sounds as if she herself has won numerous gold medals…WRONG!

    Why wouldn’t NBC select someone with a pleasant voice? Her nasal, negativity goes on and on…ad nauseum.

    She ruins the diving segments, just as Dick Button (remember him?) ruined ice skating several years ago.

    Last night, I couldn’t help but think that maybe one of the divers she was badmouthing will eventually toss her off the platform, with an “unfortunate body angle”.

  10. trooperthorn says:

    Cynthia Potter is to Olympic coverage what Nancy Grace is to Court TV.

  11. Steve says:

    Sorry, but although many of you have said this, it needs to be said again (I’m currently watching diving “live” Pacific time.)

    Potter MUST go. She’s an awful, negative, nasty person. I hate her. Rude. Stupid. “She’s suffering from a case of I did well in the prelim.” Who the hell says that? ONE BRONZE. Granted, she had a decent career, but ONE BRONZE. Down with Potter, enough already! I can’t stand her!!!

    Couldn’t agree more with the Nancy Grace analogy.

  12. Gman says:

    I have never had an announcer actually anger me until now. This woman is a snotty little mouthpiece who has no real value to her position. Laura Wilkinson misses an entry and all Potter can say is (Texas whiny nasal inflection) “No, No, No!” She rips divers while simultaneously patting herself on the back for her past ‘achievements’. Is this retaliation for her missing the ’80 games due to the boycott?

    NBC…I’m considering boycotting you for employing this snide individual!

    • Jane says:

      Not only does Cynthia speak from experience but she explains things for those of us who love to watch diving but don’t know much about it. She has the ability to teach as well as comment. At her age, she has the right to quit the heavy-duty teaching and just have fun. I think she’s one of the top NBC commentators.

  13. Ann says:

    Boy, do I agree with those who can’t stand Cynthia Potter. Regardless of her diving skills or coaching skills or other technical qualifications for this job, she … just … doesn’t … entertain.

    This is not a civil service job she’s been employed to do, but an entertainment job. And so far, it sounds like about 9 to 1 — the audience doesn’t like her. Somebody hook her around the neck and drag her offstage. Please!

  14. bobby says:

    If Cynthia is so respected by the diving community, she’d be doing more than teaching diving at Westminster, a relatively small, blue-chip K-12 academy in Atlanta. I suspect she’s always been an average performer at best throughout her life, including before and after competitive diving.

  15. sportsdiva says:

    The unanimity of this comment string is amazing. Not one Potter defender. This is at least the second and possibly the third Olympics during which she’s been foisted on viewers. Can we hope for a Louganis sighting for London in 2012?

  16. Kris says:

    Oh thank God, I’m not alone in my annoyance at Cynthia Potter. What WAS NBC thinking? Surely there’s some diving expert around of quality comparable to Tim Dagget’s commentary on gymnastics. Find that person!!

  17. I think the two main logical fallacies many people commit when criticizing Cynthia Potter are mistaking “frankness” for “rudeness,” and mistaking “stating the obvious” for “appealing to a wider audience.”

    Do we really want our color commentators to consistently their punches? Do we really want them to only commentate on stuff that’s not going to provoke emotions from the listeners or the divers? I, for one, enjoy hearing exactly why the dive that received 9.5s is, in fact, not a perfect dice. Or why a female diver with “poor body lines” is just not going to score as well as the svelte Chinese divers. I say, bring on the provocative commentary!

    Lastly, there’s nothing especially unique about her voice, other than that she has a Texan accent. Do we really hate the voice of everyone who has a Texan accent?

    I wrote a blog post on the topic of why Cynthia is a great commentator. Here is the link: http://martinmccrory.wordpress.com/2008/08/21/my-response-to-all-the-cynthia-potter-haters-out-there/

  18. sportsdiva says:

    Martin, I’m not sure you read the post. Certainly I understand that you disagree with the comments, but I’m not sure I’m ready to discount their dissatisfaction.

    In my post I pointed out factual and logical inconsistencies in Potter’s commentary. And I’m not willing to pretend they didn’t happen in order to give her a break. Yes, she knows diving. But there is a way to comment on each performance without constantly saying the same thing about the splash. She does occasionally explain where the splash comes from, which I appreciate. But she also too often comes across as a scold.

    And it isn’t the accent. In particular during the synchro, she seemed to be shouting through the competition. That has softened somewhat during the solo competitions. But she has a screechy, nasal quality to her speech that is not easy to listen to. And her inanity has been less apparent. But as one of your commenters said, she plays favorites. And that’s not helpful.

    One thing I can compliment is that there is no complaining about U.S. divers being robbed. That kind of jingoism makes some *cough*gymnastics*cough* commentary extremely annoying and is blessedly absent here. But I still think that there is someone out there who knows their stuff and is able to comment and clarify without sounding like their face is scrunched up in disapproval for a few hours.

  19. mc says:

    I can’t stand Cynthia Potter, so much so that it has led me to look her up online and have found this site on her. I love the Olympics but when diving comes on it is hard for me to watch because of her. Just the other night she was commenting on the Chinese diver I believe and said he had ballet moves but she used the word changement. Now I know not everyone is a French expert but most people know not to pronounce t’s in French words such as Monet for example. Coming from a dancing background, this mad me very irritated. Not only that but the woman thinks she knows everything about how the judges are going to score and half the time she is wrong.

  20. hilmac says:

    I am so happy to find I am not alone in my feelings for Cynthia Potter. Never before has a commentator evoked such strong emotions from me (ok, maybe Dick Vitale) or caused me to actually search online for others who share my option.

    Also, I thought she was a commentator on US Television??? If that’s the case, why is she only capabale of complimenting the Chinese divers?

  21. Luis Mon says:

    I love Cynthia Potter! Her voice may be a tad annoying but she knows what she’s talking about. She always nails it on the head. I’ve learned a lot about diving listening to her. What I’m really upset about is NBC’s “Anglocentric” coverage. Why didn’t NBC show Cuba’s dives in the finals on Saturday night? Cuba was in the top 3 for most of the finals. NBC showed the Brits (#16 at one point) and the Aussies. NBC also did not show Mexico & Colombia (who were in the top 10 for the first part of the finals).

  22. kris says:

    i specifically searched the internet for the “annoying olympic commentator.” that voice… the inaccurate, useless, biased, contradictory comments… wow, i got a headache watching the Olympics because it felt like i was getting yelled at over the television set. her voice just cuts through air and strikes a nerve. i couldn’t watch the rest.

  23. Pink Polkadot says:

    Note to NBC: Please leave Cynthia Potter in China. Take away her passport and her press credentials and let her be heard from no more! Personally, I’d like to stuff one of those Speedo swimsuits in her nasty little mouth ~

  24. adyzol says:

    I Googled Cynthia Potter because I think her commentary is exceedingly excellent. I’m not a diver, but have studied ballet for many years. I find her voice excellent, command of diving variables excellent, ability to quickly observe what is occurring in front of her eyes exceedingly excellent, her ability to evaluate excellent, and her ability with words to almost simultaneously describe is OUTSTANDING. I also find that often those who sit at home and like to throw mud from their computers, often pick the most excellent to try to muddie them up. And they are LOSERS.

  25. Sportsdiva, I definitely concede that there are people who are dissatisfied with her commentary. I think that’s true for just about any television commentator, moreso for someone as outspoken as Cynthia. And she’s not perfect. She makes her share of mistakes, though in my opinion the frequency with which she gets things absolutely correct more than balances out the times she messes up (a few examples of which you correctly elucidate in your original post). In fact, I would wager that it’s virtually impossible to “go out on a limb” the way she does with her commentary without occasionally breaking the branch.

    But I happen to feel that her “scold”ing tendency, though perhaps slightly acerbic, is a nice change of pace from color commentators who talk a lot without saying anything. And in the spirit of meritocracy, I don’t mind a good “scold”ing, as long as the “scold” is merited.

    I cringe when she talks over the diver as they’re taking off (just as you do), and I cringe when she says something dated, eccentric or old-fashioned. But all in all I still enjoy her commentary, and look forward to both her insightful commentary and her occasional misplaced comment.

  26. sportsdiva says:

    Martin, I am more than willing to say she knows the individual sport very well. And the tone of her commentary got better as the week wore on. She did stop yelling. Perhaps it was exhaustion that had her quietly and compentently discussing the mens platform final, which I think was her best work of the week. It isn’t her fault that NBC ignored the non-Chinese, non-Anglo divers in the finals.

    But she needs to acknowlege that there are many judges, seated in different positions around the pool for a reason. And sometimes on replay she can admit there’s something there she didn’t see the first time through the dive. And they need to find a better way to cover the synchro. Because on the synchro (which is what I was responding to with the original post) she was in way over her head and that commentary was missing the discussion of the actual dives and descended into the lame way too often.

    Once people had that performance in their memory banks, it was really hard to be won over, particularly because there is nothing winning in her on-air persona.

    But we now have four years before we need to think about it again.

  27. We love Cynthia says:

    For anyone who has ever MET Cynthia Potter, been trained by her or know her personal background (all of which our family has), you would be ashamed of your comments.
    Cynthia has overcome many personal obstacles (the stuff they do NOT publish), is kind and caring, is generous with her time and talents and ALWAYS and works harder than anyone I have known. She is an incredible coach, is respected internationally and by USA Diving and has over 20 National titles.
    When she made the 1980 Olympic team, where she was expected to medal again (she was World Champion), the USA boycotted the Olympics. Four years of training and injuries, no Olympics. So the comments about “one medal” are not fair.
    I think if you knew Cynthia, you would all be much kinder in your assessments.
    You may think her voice is not to your liking, but you would be lucky to have a fraction of her coaching, knowledge, insight and narrative for yourself.
    We know, because we have. Try asking anyone who has ever benefitted from her incredible talents.

  28. sportsdiva says:

    Her personal struggles, her diving career, her character are not at issue. She is being paid to be a television commentator. She is being paid to comment on diving. If you’ll read my original post, you will see perfectly reasonable criticism of her abilities to do that effectively. Is she knowledgeable? Yes. Does she often lose her way in the hypercriticism of some and acceptance of the errors of others? Yes. She could be Mother Theresa with a handful of gold medals, that would not make her my (or many others’ apparently) idea of the best person for this job. I don’t think I or anyone else here needs to feel ashamed of being irritated by her performance or expressing that in this forum.

  29. I live in reality says:

    Welovecynthia….Potter was never a world champion. Her best performances in an international competitions was a silver medal at the 1978 world championships and a gold medal at the 1970 World Univesity Games.Please get ur facts straight especially since you supposedly know her. Those that defend her seem to focus on her knowledge…that is not the thing that seems to grate on most of her detractors. I dislike her because she never ever shuts up. I could probably handle her if she just remained silent a bit more often. As it is, she constantly talks, constantly! Also I do think she could be a bit more positive at times in her critiques as she does come off overly negative at times. Sadly it appears NBC is sticking with her for 2012. Looks like my mute button will get a workout again.

  30. John says:

    Feeling the hate (yet again) for synchronized swimming commentator Cynthia Potter. The voice alone — high pitched, nasal, monotone, loud, a bit Sarah Palin minus the deep insight — is enough to curdle my milk. Worse yet, she’s a schoolmarmish Debbie Downer who seems to hate silence as much as common sense, spouting self-evident gibberish or gleeful digs at all the “losers” who deviate from absolute perfection. She just HAS to go.

  31. sportsdiva says:

    John, I’m glad the site is still up to provide a place for us to share our suffering. I actually think she’s improved since 2008. But that’s damning with faint praise. If you go to on-line streaming to watch? No CP. There are Canadian or British commentators, if there is commentary at all. Try it! You’ll love it.

  32. Stephen says:

    What a delight to find this site. Cynthia Potter has been annoying the hell out of me for years with her unbelievably grating voice and poor commentary. It’s astounding that NBC keeps her employed. In all fairness, she has, as Sportsdiva says, improved since 2008. But, as Sportsdiva again says, that’s damning with faint praise.

  33. Tiffany McMillan says:

    I completely agree with Diva! She is also incredibly rude and insulting towards divers and DOES NOT SHUT UP! One dive in particular, she kept rambling on and on until the other guy had to interrupt to announce the next team as they left the platform! My husband and I started muting all the dives so we could pretend she was being respectful as well as concentrate on the dive itself. Although it seems more than half of the commentators this year are similar to her. Did they give them a minimum # words per athlete even if it means repeatedly saying “uh, um he/she/they um…”? So annoying!

  34. Lois Crouse says:

    I had to mute the so-called commentary–Potter made me want to scream, both her non-stop talking in an really annoying voice and the inanity of her comments.

  35. ilvlcy says:

    Ditto! Potter is also rude! She finds fault WITH (accenting random word) everything! I love watching and listening to all of the olympics. However when she is on…mute button please take me away!!!

  36. Scott says:

    Thank you!! She is the worst!! She never once mentions the difficulty of the dive, she just talks about random crap. It makes diving almost unbareable to watch

  37. Jennifer C. says:

    Glad to know that I am not alone in being completely annoyed by Cynthia Potter’s ‘commentary’ and her insufferable voice. Nails on a chalkboard!! Shouldn’t she be retiring soon? Or are we going to have to mute the 2020 diving coverage too?

  38. Ken says:

    I’m a Canadian viewer of CBC and do not want to listen to this commentator whose voice gives me headache ( also condescending to the divers without being informational )
    I was stunned to find this person’s presence is actually from NBC!
    So glad to have found this forum but after reading it all I have to ask : why is she still on the job after several Olympics and, why is she polluting Canadian Olympics coverage?
    Yuck!

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