Being the typical American family — 2.1 kids, house in the burbs, yappy dog — the Olympic Games have been running in the background pretty much non-stop at our house. In the evening, after work, I settle down with everyone else and watch what Bob Costas and company have for me that night.
Maybe it’s just the fact that after three days both fish and avuncular TV anchors stink, but the NBC talking heads have gotten on my last olfactory nerve.
It’s the un-American accumulation of studied nonchalance that has been bothering me. I want these guys to care if America wins and demonstrate some love of country. It seems to be beyond them. For example, I watched Cris Collinsworth interview Kobe Bryant. Kobe Bryant is, without qualification, my least favorite NBA basketball player. He is a preening narcissist and an annoying ball hog. I never bought his humility schtick around winning the Most Valuable Player. Every time he opens his mouth I feel like he’s lying.
That said, I saw the interview and managed to dislike Cris Collinsworth more than I do Bryant. For me that’s quite a feat.
You can watch the video here. Here’s the gist:
Collinsworth: Where does the patriotism come from inside of you? Historically, what is it?
Kobe: Well, you know, it’s just our country, it’s … we believe is the greatest country in the world. It has given us so many great opportunities, and it’s just a sense of pride that you have, that you say, “You know what? Our country is the best!”
Collinsworth: Is that a “cool” thing to say, in this day and age? That you love your country, and that you’re fighting for the red, white, and blue? It seems sort of like a day gone by.
Kobe: No, it’s a cool thing for me to say. I feel great about it, and I’m not ashamed to say it. I mean, this is a tremendous honor.
That conversation came on the heels of Bob Costas looking like he’s receiving an enema every time Bela Karolyi screeches in delight over the American gymnasts succeeding. Costas babbled uncomfortably about “journalistic integrity” and literally leaned away when Karolyi exuberantly praised the American girls’ stellar performance. As an American, even an American sports journalist, it’s not wrong to want an American to win. It is wrong, just for moral clarification, to pretend that the Chinese aren’t cheating. Failing to report politically incorrect news demonstrates a definite lack of journalistic integrity, since NBC reporters like Bob seem worried about journalistic ethics.
And then there was the Collinsworth interview with Michael Phelps’ mother. He tried to be distant and objective, as if this isn’t a personal human interest story. Michael Phelps winning is extremely personal for Michael’s mother. She was a bundle of nerves and who wouldn’t be? She is proud of her son and her country and, yes, she laughs and cries and cheers. It might seem strange to jaded newsmen, but Michael Phelps’ mom thinks it’s better when Michael and Americans win. One would think the news anchors would feel the same way.