What's Friday's big complaint about NBC's Olympic coverage?
In addition to the usual kvetching about tape delay and Ryan Seacrest, the peacock network is getting criticized for its failure to show any highlight of 17-year-old Claressa Shields winning the first women's boxing gold medal in American history during Thursday night's telecast.
Shields won the middleweight title earlier that afternoon. Her historic win was briefly mentioned as an aside by Bob Costas during NBC's prime-time coverage. But there were no highlights of her victory, nor any shots of her endearing, nervous giggles on the medal stand. The snub caused the typical now-routine griping on Twitter.
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NBC was on the air for four hours on Thursday night. Most of the first two hours were filled with diving (featuring no American contenders) and a semifinal volleyball match. There was plenty of time to run a clip or two and the network should have done so.
Shields' story is the stuff of which NBC's Olympic coverage is made. She has an inspirational tale of overcoming a tough life in a rough city with a father who excelled in the same sport before repeated incarcerations. She entered London having never lost. The softly lit, piano-driven feature practically produces itself.
Shields got the mention she deserved and was a guest on the "Today" show on Friday morning, as is typical for all Team USA gold medalists. It's not as if NBC ignored her completely.
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That's part of the reason why it's hard to get worked up over this particular #nbcfail. The other is obvious: People don't want to watch women's boxing.
Historian Joyce Carol Oates once wrote, "boxing is for men, and is about men, and is men." At the Olympics, that's not even true anymore. The sport has no buzz. The greatest living Olympic historian doesn't want to watch men's or women's events. Boxing is a niche sport at the Summer Games and women's boxing is less popular than that, a niche of a niche. It isn't fodder for prime time.
If you cared enough about watching Claressa Shields to get on social media and complain about her not being on NBC, then you cared enough to have watched it live on CNBC or via streaming.
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