I am a product of Channel Nine’s Olympics coverage
Australian team members Michael Rogers, left, Stuart O'Grady, Matthew Goss and Daniel McConnell after a training session in Horsley, outside London. Source: AAP
Once upon a time I thought the Olympics was essentially a fortnight-long showcase of good-looking people excelling at obscure exercise techniques.
I never had anything against participants or fans; I just knew it wasn’t for me.
I struggled to grasp how these activities could rise from such mainstream insignificance to the level of Extreme National Importance so quickly. This was always followed by the same sports being instantly relegated to the shadows for four more years once it was all over.
I appreciated the spotlight the Olympics placed on those deserving, hard-working athletes who had in some cases spent their careers toiling in self-funded anonymity. But I struggled to fathom the hypocritical media hype that went with it.
I doubt I was the only one; the orgasmic excitement of a pool-side Bruce McAvaney was sure to turn off most casual viewers.
Under the watchful guise of Mark Nicholas and co. at Channel Nine, I have been turned around. I have been saved, if you will, from a lifetime of never knowing what true patriotism feels like.
For example, despite not knowing how diving really even works, when I watch our Olympics coverage it suddenly comes to seem that my whole emotional wellbeing rides on the result.
I feel as if the fate of my nation rests on the broad shoulders of whoever that diver is.
Whether I cry myself to sleep in distress or jubilation that night will depend entirely on whether this athlete I’ve never heard of can jump into the pool subjectively better than another athlete (from another country) I’ve also never heard of.
It’s a wonderful thing: if they win, then suddenly I will love and worship that previously ignored, unknown athlete forevermore. Or I will at least until the swimming comes on.
In that moment of victory the Unknown Athlete will become “ours” – representative of our national superiority, the symbol of a victory to which we are all entitled.
If they lose I can wash my hands of them, disassociating myself from their failure, but still never forgiving how they have let me down.
Channel Nine understands this. At times of being so devastatingly let down by an athlete I have done so much to support, Channel Nine will bombard this tearful, remorseful athlete with probing questions about their failure. This is as it should be.
Channel Nine knows that I do not abide failure or respect losers. I want these disappointments to be asked questions about why they didn’t perform better and whether or not they feel like they have let their nation down.
I want the cameras closing in on their shameful tears: I bought a new TV for this. When I am failed, I want to see the suspect athlete’s devastation in HD.
After all, Channel Nine have built these athletes up so much they deserve to knock them down. I applaud them for taking up the cause; any Australian athlete that is only fourth best in the world at something deserves nothing less.
Unlike so many of Australia’s “athletes”, Channel Nine never lets me down.
With Channel Nine I always know that Karl Stefanovic is just a studio cross away. Awkwardly loitering in front of the cameras like a hesitant John unsure how to approach a street prostitute, Stefanovic is always waiting to dissect the failures of those who dared to wear our sporting colours so poorly.
Thanks to Channel Nine, I love or hate people I’d never previously heard of based on centimetres and split seconds.
I now drink only Coca-Cola and eat only McDonald’s. I love Australia and I do not tolerate failure.
I am a product of Channel Nine’s Olympics coverage.
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