The Summer Olym-pics are upon us once again. The fight for gold and glory, the personal struggle of the individual athlete, the chance for the greatest of every sport to compete against the strongest field of competitors every country can manage, and we barely get to see any of it.

This year I have seen more talking heads, more advertising, more “personal interest” stories and more manufactured drama than I have sports. The watered-down version of the Olympics we get is almost devoid of the spirit of competition, replaced almost entirely by hype and whether someone lives up to that hype.

Other ways in which the Olympics have been diluted for American audiences include the special focus on only certain events and blatant ethnocentrism. That is both shocking and saddening.

I want to see all the best athletes in the world compete, whether they come in first or last. I want to see all the events, whether the U.S. places or not. Instead we get NBC-only coverage that has more talking than it does sports and focuses only on the American teams, their perceived rivals, and a couple of heart-warming against-all-odds underdogs.

If NBC isn’t going to carry every event, or even the majority of them, then why can’t other networks carry those second-string events that NBC seems uninterested in. Even if we have the money for hundreds upon hundreds of channels we can’t see much of the Olympics, and might notice that foreign (Canadian and Spanish language) coverage has far more focus on the actual sport than our own.

When did the Olympics in America stop being sports and start being reality TV, where the only “real” participants are American?

Georg Syphers, Madison

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