Though there were plenty of impressive feats witnessed during the men's gymnastics individual all-around last night — yay Danell! — there was one particularly eye-popping skill that was completely absent: Why have we not seen anyone do the rings during these Olympics? Sure we've seen a few guys in the background striking crazy iron cross poses and whatnot, and we caught a montage glimpse of poor John Orozco sticking a dismount, but we haven't seen a single full routine on what is, we'd think so anyway, the most difficult apparatus in the sport. (Though, all the recent oopsies on pommel horse would suggest otherwise.) What's going on? Does NBC think that we think the rings are boring?
In general I wish NBC wouldn't be quite so narrow in its assessment of what we find interesting. I'm not as down on the network's Olympic coverage as some — I'm not a sports purist and don't mind being told a carefully crafted narrative — but the producer's heavy editorial hand does start to annoy when whole rounds of a competition are skipped entirely for vague reasons. Similarly, we were shown several semifinal swimming heats instead of more of the men's all-around last night because, I suspect, our American boys weren't faring so well. The ending — ultimately redeeming for at least one American gymnast — was smooshed into the very last minutes of NBC's primetime broadcast, meaning we only got to watch the guy who eventually won the silver medal, pretty pea Marcel Nguyen, do one lousy event. I understand biasing coverage toward Americans, that makes perfect if jingoistic sense, but to completely elide an entire competitor and instead show not-completely-important swimming semis? That's just NBC falsely and frustratingly assuming its viewers' opinions.
Lack of sports puritanism aside, I'm also generally reluctant to criticize NBC's coverage too harshly because, well, I certainly have no idea how to properly broadcast a sprawling two-week sportapalooza in which dozens of things are often happening at once. That seems like a hard job! But I do wish that NBC would at least put a little faith in our ability to, y'know, enjoy watching competitors from other countries, or like watching dudes hold themselves parallel to the ground while propped up on silly little rings. Oftentimes the network guesses correctly in what it decides to show us — a longtime holdout, I will now finally concede that beach volleyball is pretty fun to watch — but they increasingly seem to bet on the wrong horse. Or rather, ignore horses altogether. You know, NBC, a lot of us would watch some of that boat racing that looks exciting in all those brief snippets! Same with cycling and fencing and, hell, even table tennis. Maybe these sports have been market tested and have proven to not be the big sellers or even medium sellers, but couldn't they at least try it out and put some of these events in their glossy primetime package?
Speaking of glossy packages, the gymnastics men still have the individual event competition, and if we don't see any rings during those then I'm going to suspect there's some sort of deeper conspiracy. We've heard that the IOC is pretty strict about the Olympic rings logo, but this is just ridiculous.