I'm not really a sports fan. I don't follow any teams and frankly I can't even remember at the moment who just won the Super Bowl. And having been raised in the south, I don't have much personal experience with winter sports. But still, I have a special affinity for the Olympics, perhaps learned from a childhood of afternoons spent watching The Wide World of Sports and seeing that poor ski jumper crash to smithereens each week, synchronized perfectly with the announcer saying, "the agony of defeat."
I've been trying to follow the Winter Games on French TV and it's been a bit of a stretch. First of all, the coverage each evening flips back and forth between France 2 and France 3; the dude at the desk tells you to switch the channel and when you do, there he is again, picking up the commentary right where he left off. And second, naturally, the French coverage follows France's best hopes for medals. So the other night, we watched the women's 10K biathalon, you know the event where they cross country ski and shoot at targets. Americans don't do well in that event so I'm not sure I've ever even seen it. But the French had a crack competitor so we watched the live coverage (en direct as they say in French). The French gal came in third and we saw her crossing the finish line, tears of joy in her eyes. Now in that circumstance, what would the American networks do? Why go straight to an interview, another event, game over, story done. But not so here. We got to watch all 56 competitors slog their way to the end; I think there was even an American back in the pack there around number 46.
Apparently, there's more coverage on Eurosport but our basic cable package doesn't include it. And while I tried to watch some of the American highlights on the NBC Web site, they correctly detect my French IP address which makes much of the content unavailable to me.
So I'll keep following the French, doing my best to learn who the competitors are and to understand the commentators who insist on talking over each other. The French are having a great Olympics so far, with the exception of Brian Joubert, who expected to medal in men's figure skating, ended up in 18th place after the short program, and Marion Rolland, who blew out her knee on the top of the mountain in the women's downhill. Heartbreaking for both of them.