The Finktank is more of what you've come to expect from Jesse Fink, The World Game's enfant terrible, but with a bent on the big issues in sport. No sport, no personality, no subject, is off limits.
Winter Olympics let down by Nine and Foxtel
The dumbing down of big sporting events happens when TV networks don't do them the justice they deserve, writes The Finktank.
There's been some hullabaloo in the media about Eddie McGuire making a crack about the sexuality of Johnny Weir, an American figure skater, during Nine's Winter Olympics coverage.
This was the offending exchange with comedian Mick Molloy:
"They don't leave anything in the locker room those blokes," said Molloy, referring to Weir's choice of costume, a typically garish figure-skating job.
Cue McGuire to lean forward and guffaw: "They don't leave anything in the closet either, do they?"
Boom tish. Slap your thighs.
But why such an outcry? What did viewers expect from Nine's line up of talent? Insight? Erudition? Expertise?
Nine, a boys' club if ever there is one in TV, has a rich history of using commentators with bugger-all knowledge of what they're asked to cover.
Look at their Vancouver line up of "experts": the aforementioned McGuire; Ken Sutcliffe, who's famous for calling Socceroos coach Pim Verbeek "Tim Verbeek"; Leila McKinnon, wife of David Gyngell; former nude centerfold Cameron Williams; news reporters Damian Ryan and Peter Stefanovic; two swimmers in Grant Hackett and Giaan Rooney; AFL commentator James Brayshaw; NRL compere Andrew Voss; and jacks-of-all-trades Mike McCann, Tony Jones, Tim Gilbert and Tim Sheridan.
The only recognisable Winter Olympics expertise I can identify among the lot is Alisa Camplin, Steven Lee, Steve Bradbury, Jay Onley, Roger White, Carla Zijlstra, Belinda Noonan and Phil Liggett. Eight out of 22 on-air presenters. Hardly overwhelming.
This is the best they could muster?
Well, perhaps we should thank our lucky stars if Foxtel's complementary line up is anything to go by: former Nine talking haircut Steve Liebmann; song torturer Michael Bublé; renowned Aussie Rules boundary rider Tiffany Cherry; failed Olympic sprinter Matt Shirvington; do-anything utilities Tracy Holmes, Adam Peacock, Sarah
Jones and James Bracey; and, wait for it, celebrity lesbian Ruby Rose.
I'm still scratching my head at that one. Not an expert among them. What a slap in the face to such a huge and important event.
But worse it's disrespectful to the audience, who deserve better than an Australian network just throwing together whoever's available and hoping nobody notices.
The thing is they have. The game is up. The chattering classes are chattering on Facebook, Twitter, elsewhere on the net, and they don't like it. Australians are getting sick of having big sporting events (the 2002 FIFA World Cup, the 2010 Winter Olympics) treated with what I regard as contempt.
The Facebook group "Eddie Mcguire [sic] is ruining the 2010 Winter Olympics coverage" had 200 members late on Thursday. At time of writing, Friday afternoon, it had 4150.
In fact, we're heartily sick of it. A wonderful event of the magnitude and majesty of the Winter Olympics doesn't deserve such dumbing down.
The opportunity to broadcast the Olympics is a privilege to educate, illuminate and inspire, not a chance to pull a big swifty.
Nine and Foxtel just don't seem to grasp that basic concept.
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