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?