I likely will boycott next month’s Sochi Games — due to the fact that, last time I checked, there are no sports in the Winter Olympics — but I thought I might take a moment out now, as a courtesy to those readers who will take in some of NBC’s 1,539 hours of coverage, to give you a comprehensive guide to This Avalanche of Commercial-Laden Nordic Combined Visual Junkyard of Distractions:
I was not joking about 1,539 hours of coverage — I would recommend glare-reducing goggles and Al Trautwig-resistant headphones. Here’s the breakdown: NBC (185 hours), NBCSN (230), MSNBC (45), USA Network (43), CNBC (36) and NBCOlympics.com (1,000 hours, online).
The cameras are rolling from Feb. 6 to 23, so that’s 1,539 hours over 18 days. If you do the math — and, tragically, I’m paid to do the math — it works out to an average of 85 hours of Olympic TV a day. That seems a tad high to me, particularly considering that — despite technological leaps — there are still only 24 hours in any given day.
●MSNBC will carry hours and hours and hours of live hockey. I feel for MSNBC, I really do. The cable network has gone through a litany of left-leaning nighttime hosts in search of an audience that never materializes. And now these poor rascals have to present hockey every evening for two weeks? You’d get a better Nielsen number showing a Zamboni running over a carton of eggs on an icy stretch of road in Chautauqua, N.Y.
If I were an MSNBC executive, I’d just run the film “Miracle” on a continuous loop.
●During the opening ceremony Feb. 7, NBC will use New Yorker magazine editor David Remnick as a “special contributor.” Don’t be fooled by this erudite fella — yeah, he’s going to sound very smart, he’s going to tell you stuff about Russia you never knew or cared to know and he’s going to say things you can’t quite understand.
●Bob Costas is back for his record-breaking 10th time as Olympic prime-time host. Actually, through the magic of satellite feeds, Costas will be anchoring nightly from his St. Louis home while reorganizing his 1962-85 rookie baseball-card collection.
●Al Trautwig will do play-by-play in cross-country skiing, including Nordic combined. Frankly, at this point I can’t imagine watching any cross-country skiing event — particularly Nordic combined — without Al Trautwig’s dulcet tones.
●Somehow, curling remains a growth industry on TV. Hey, I love a good broom across the floor as much as the next metrosexual, but CNBC is going to have a daily Olympic curling program and MSNBC and USA also will air live curling. Of course, it’s live — what, we want to watch taped curling?
●Team figure skating will be making its Olympic debut. More figure skating? Really? This would be like Red Lobster expanding its Endless Shrimp Special through dessert. And, I’m sorry, but if Scott Hamilton comes into my home any more often, I’ll have to list him as a dependent on my tax return.
●Even if you just watch prime-time on NBC, that’s a 21 / 2-week, 8 p.m.-to-11:30 p.m. commitment. You can’t go out. Sure, you can pause the picture to eat, talk or use the restroom, but if you do that too often, you’ll be up till 3:45 in the morning catching up.
●In NBC’s defense — in regard to the 1,539 hours of coverage — the Olympic Games are not just a major international sporting event, it’s the only real programming the network has left. Well, other than the “Today” show (17 hours daily?) and “The Voice.”
●There is going to be a heavy security presence at this Olympics. The Winter Games might look more like the “Hunger Games.”
Q: Tennis players inexplicably get three balls, look at them and then return one to the ballboy. When The Slouch goes bowling, does he ask for three PBRs and return one to the waitress? (Chris Grover; Charlottesville, Va.)
A: You don’t give me enough credit, sir — on certain nights, I ask for three PBRs and offer one to the waitress.
Q: Does the fact that Ron Jaworski and Greg Cosell still analyze NFL games on film rather than digital video explain their lackluster performance when they make their forecasts on various ESPN shows? (Tom Johnson; Delmar, N.Y.)
A: I love Jaws, but he’s also eating microwaved popcorn while watching NFL games on film.
Q: As a professional card player, how often do you wear eye black to reduce glare? (Bill Agnostak; Rockville, Md.)
A: 1. Thank you for referring to me as a “professional card player.” 2. I only wear eye black on honeymoons.
Q: In the NFL, when a wide-open receiver headed for the end zone is tackled from behind, why isn’t the defender penalized for a clear-path foul? (Dan Neukam; Las Vegas)
A: Pay the man, Shirley.
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