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After Trautwig and Pretzel Boy, Olympic Flameout Relieves Olympic Burnout

By Norman Chad
Washington Post Staff Columnist
Monday, Aug. 5, 1996; Page C04

Editor's Note: This is the final column of an arduous, unlikely 23-year Olympic journey for American-born columnist Norman Chad. To reach his one Olympic moment, it has been a lifetime of emotional and gastronomic investment for Chad, who overcame overwhelming odds—moderately crowded public schools, a high-sodium diet, a manual typewriter and a cableless childhood—to emerge today as one of the world's most feared TV viewers.

The Olympic flame has been extinguished. (I think Bud Collins blew it out.) Yes, the Games finally are over. We came, we saw, we conked out. The following comments, recorded during NBC's actual telecasts, are presented here on tape delay:

Watching the Olympics every evening, did you get the feeling that you'd ordered the veal Florentine for dinner and then waited and waited while NBC kept serving bread sticks to hold you over?

(Before we get along much further, let me say that I largely enjoyed NBC's coverage of the Games. But I'm not paid to bring good cheer into your homes; that's Rosie O'Donnell's job.)

Life is short and miserable, and then it's over. In the meantime, I'm not watching synchronized swimming.

Bob Costas again has proven he's the biggest little man in broadcasting. We've gotten the best of Bob during these Games—and Costas was very good. Of course, Olympic Bob is not be confused with Dateline Bob, Later Bob, NBA Bob, NFL Bob, World Series Bob, Baseball Commissioner-in-Waiting Bob or even Civil War Bob, roles in which he also has excelled.

Then again, once in a while during the Games, Costas tried to be Borscht Belt Bob, which is unfortunate, because he's no Red Buttons.

You've got to love ABC's old Olympic theme music that NBC lifted. In truth, if ABC were doing these Games, it likely would've used Hank Williams Jr.'s "Are You Ready For Some Flatwater Canoeing?"

One day—or at least I can dream—Jim Gray will be working as a traffic reporter on an all-news radio station in Laredo, Tex.

To all those who want more TV time for their favorite sports: Buy a network, bid for the 2012 Games.

Did you ever notice that when ESPN shows the X Games, nobody complains about the coverage?

Yeah, right, shooting is an Olympic sport and bowling isn't.

It is possible John Tesh does not speak—on or off camera—without music playing.

I haven't heard the "Star-Spangled Banner" this often since rooming with Francis Scott Key in the summer of 1814.

In terms of sheer quality broadcast journalism, Al Trautwig's taped cycling reports immediately call to mind Ted Baxter's interview with the king of the gypsies on WJM in the mid-1970s.

Elfi Schlegel? Elfi Schlegel!

I'm tired of commercials with subtitles. This is America. Speak the language.

Incidentally, Bill Walton speaks two languages—English and outlandish.

I'd like to take this space to address my fellow Americans—and I'm talking about fans and athletes and media and, of course, my very own family—in telling you that, in terms of sporting and cultural graces, we remain the most obnoxious group of people in the world.

If they had let Pretzel Boy play, the Dream Team might not have been a snooze.

I'm going to contact the ACLU about being forced to watch rhythmic gymnastics.

The sport is volleyball. Whether indoor or outdoor, courtside or beachside, day or night, men or women, network or cable, the announcers are Chris Marlowe and Paul Sunderland. Every spike. Every dig. Every time. When Karch Kiraly brushes his teeth, Chris Marlowe spits out the Ultra Brite.

Two-tenths of a point off for Tim Daggett for his high-pitched, irritating, whiny, nails-on-chalkboard verbal landings.

I don't want to say Emmitt Smith is off-base, but if you want to play football at the Olympics, the Winter Games would seem to be more appropriate.

But, hey, NBC must've thought football was an Olympic sport. Why else would Cris Collinsworth, Phil Simms, Beasley Reece, Bob Trumpy and Ahmad Rashad be in Atlanta?

To be sure, NBC really missed the boat in not assigning Paul Maguire to badminton.

I believe NBC is still showing replays of Michael Johnson's 200-meter victory at this very moment.

The following NBC announcers should be denied entry at Australian customs if they attempt to bring any broadcast equipment to the Sydney Olympics in 2000: Chris Marlowe, John Dockery, Al Trautwig, Dwight Stones, Cris Collinsworth, Al Trautwig, Jim Gray, Cynthia Potter, Al Trautwig, Bill Walton, Summer Sanders, Al Trautwig, Magic Johnson, Bob Trumpy, Seamus Malin.

Only 550 days to Nagano.

© 1996 The Washington Post Company

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