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Friday, August 3, 2012

The Back Story Olympics

We are deluged with back stories. They fight for attention with the actual event. That someone gets a gold medal is subservient to their quest to get there. The back story sold by NBC is what they hope will hook us and build the brand. The problem is there are now hundreds and hundreds of back stories told through commericals and filler pieces and we doth think they back story too much. The worst of course is the big set up that doesn't work (they lose) and then the back story is never shown again.

And the Olympics ideal is that of the amateur. Or it used to be. Now we see professional Olympians and then we see professional sports figures competing (Kobe Bryant). And this does not seem to be part of the ideal and our thirst for back story dilutes the spirit as well. We seem to be saying that if there is not a drama attached to the Olympian (overcoming all odds) then we might not be as invested in their ultimate victory or defeat. I would argue this merely detracts.

We are beat over the head with back stories now. Memoirs. Made for TV movies. Oprah. American Idol. You name it and we have a back story of overcoming incredible odds to become that one in a million star, athlete, singer, actor. And the disingenuous quality starts to nag at us. Is everyone poor in America who goes for the one in a million shot? Or is that we are just in love with that rags to riches Horatio Alger fantasy that anyone can be famous, rich, or an Olympian.

And maybe they can. But in the final moment, the back story falls away and we see the sport, the triumph, the defeat for what it is. A breif shining moment of human endeavour sans the back story.

Books by William Hazelgrove