Posts filed under 'Sports'

World Cup 2010: The Commercializing

So the World Cup starts in two days. It’s exciting! We’ve been in a bit of a dead sprint getting all the pre–World Cup stuff done here at work, but now it’s really just time to wait till the games start on Friday (at 9:30 in the morning. I’m sure you can find a bar that has breakfast specials if you’re really interested in South Africa v. Mexico). So I thought I’d take a bit of a look at the TV aspect of the tournament, or at least the pre-tournament TV aspect: The commercials. I will not lie; there have been some fantastic commercials in advance of SA2010. Here are a few of my favorites.

Nike: Write the Future

It scares me a little to imagine how much this cost. Nike’s three-minute opus features about a dozen of the biggest names in the game, including a few who won’t be playing in South Africa (Brazil’s Ronaldinho, seen here doing his trademark samba over the ball, failed to make his team’s final squad of 23, because Brazil is just so good that they cut players other countries would kill to have. Also, Ivory Coast’s Didier Drogba, the guy in orange at the beginning, has a broken arm and might not play). My favorite section is about 45 seconds in, when England’s Wayne Rooney sees the outcome of one play, if he makes a tackle or if he fails, and there’s a brief clip of American superstars (the closest thing we have to superstars!) Landon Donovan and Tim Howard laughing at him. Then, of course, he plays table tennis with Federer, which is hilarious. And I really enjoy the concept of Ronaldo: The Movie, starring Gael Garcia Bernal. Basically, this commercial makes me want to watch soccer. And buy Nikes. Mission accomplished!

ETA: Seth Stevenson over at Slate points out that the commercial was directed by clever Mexican auteur Alejandro González Iñárritu (hat tip to Friend of the ‘Faux Ali). Seth also spotlights another of my favorite moments in the spot and uses a particular bit of British football slang I love: “Later, Cristiano Ronaldo fantasizes that a successful World Cup will land him an appearance on The Simpsons (he nutmegs Homer, who exclaims, “Ronal-d’oh!”) and make him the subject of a blockbuster bio-pic starring Gael García Bernal.”

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5 comments June 9th, 2010

I’m Sick of Your Shit: NBC

It’s been six days and my love affair with the Olympics has ended. Or, to be more accurate, it’s been EIGHTEEN GODDAMN YEARS and NBC has BROKEN MY HEART.

I have not fallen out of love with the Olympics; no, I still go to bed every night during this fortnight murmuring “Citius, altius, fortius,” I’m still obsessively monitoring the Excel spreadsheet that features my Olympic pool (I’m currently in seventh place with six points, thanks, Shani Davis), and I’m still planning on, you know, watching the rest of the Games. But I would like to beat NBC with flaming sticks. For a couple of reasons.

First, the tape delay. Look, I know that NBC paid a shitload of money for the exclusive broadcast rights and wants to air as much of the Games as possible in primetime, because primetime commercials cost more and that’s how they make the fancy money. I work in media; I get it. But for the LOVE OF SHAUN WHITE. NBC was able to sweet-talk the Chinese into scheduling every single one of Michael Phelps’s finals in primetime, that is, at like 9:30 in the morning Beijing time. I understand that several Olympic sports, namely, the skiing, are dependent on daylight, and therefore can’t be held at 10 p.m. when it’s conducive to East Coast television schedules. But there are a number of sports that are competed indoors, namely, the massive ratings draw that is figure skating, and both snowboard halfpipe and freestyle moguls can be done at night, under lights. Not to be all EST-centric about it, but would it EFFING KILL YOU to schedule those at like 5 o’clock West Coast time and air them live? On both coasts? Because here’s the thing: I don’t like finding out who wins nine hours before I watch the race! It’s anticlimactic! It makes still-miked Lindsey Vonn sobbing happily into her husband’s chest somewhat less poignant for me! You know what I like? Suspense! Maybe if NBC put the tiniest bit of effort into preserving some of the element of surprise, we wouldn’t be all, “What, that? I heard about that five hours ago!”

Second: The Interwebs. So NBC has insisted on tape-delaying various events, including snowboard cross, skiing events, and all the short track events that don’t involve Apolo Ohno, which are relegated to the late night block with Mary Carillo and her dead eyes (more on that later). BUT. They still have live results on nbcolympics.com, so if you wander over there during the day to, say, check on how your pet luger is doing, you’ll see a great big animated graphic trumpeting Seth Wescott’s surprise repeat gold. When you had planned on watching that race after you finished your work.

I’m just confused about why NBC can’t manage to stick to one or the other. Either you’re going to tape-delay the events, and make us wait to watch them, OR you’re going to tell us who won as soon as they happen. WHY ARE YOU DOING BOTH?! It’s infuriating. Almost as infuriating as the fact that there’s nothing on the television for me to watch at work other than CURLING. SERIOUSLY. Today, there was nothing on except curling on USA until 3 p.m., when NBC started showing tape-delayed cross-country skiing. While the ladies’ downhill was happening, as Pat Kiernan’s Twitter told me. Pat, interestingly, is actually attending the Olympics with his family. And he’s a more efficient news source when he’s on vacation than NBC is while doing their effing jobs. DUDE, NBC. Stop sucking.

Third, the insane features. I know it’s a hoary cliché with, like, cobwebs on it at this point to talk about how NBC’s features are maudlin, overblown, and ridiculous. But I think they’re even worse this year. Don’t get me wrong; I love anything that reminds me that Evgeni Plushenko is a Bedazzled Darth Vader. But in Beijing, we had NBA players wandering around the Great Wall of China, and that, at least, was kind of interesting, because Dwight Howard looks funny next to befuddled Chinese tour guides. In Vancouver, which from all accounts is a completely lovely city full of delightful people, good food, and high-qualify drugs, we have MARY GODDAMN CARILLO asking some poor Yukoner when he first met a polar bear. DURING LIVE SPORTS, Mary “I do love tennis” Carillo and her dead eyes are interrogating innocent Canadians about their wildlife! WHAT THE FUCK, NBC.

This is not to say there aren’t good things. NBC finally took Dick Button out of the figure skating commentators’ booth (although they retained underminery Sandra Bezic and excitable gnome Scott Hamilton), and they’ve hired some reasonably intelligent people to call sports they specialize in, like Jonny Moseley, who did a respectable job with moguls, and Dan Jansen, who barely looks like he’s aged since his Visa commercial. And have I mentioned how I enjoy Brian Williams? I do. And I like how the Today Show folks are calling their satellite studio “Studio 1-Eh.”

Oh! But one other thing? What the HELL is up with all the fucking Dreamworks promos? It’s not just that the creators of How to Train Your Dragon bought like forty-seven-thousand ad spots during these Games, NO. They actually paid to have the commentators kick to the ad with drivel like, “Well, if you thought that ski jumping was great, wait till you see what our friends at Dreamworks have dreamed up! They think they know how Vikings might have ski jumped!” And then there are some antiseptic animations that make Shrek look like Akira and it SUCKS.

I’m too tired and tipsy (happy birthday, Kyle) to look up whether NBC has already bought the exclusive rights to the London Games. I seriously effing hope they haven’t. I don’t remember much about how the networks covered the Games pre-NBC hegemony, but SOMEONE has got to give Dick Ebersol a fucking wakeup call. Because if they’re this inept when the Games are happening three hours before us, how viciously crappy is it going to be when they’re five hours ahead?

This does not mean I am not excited about the figure skating tomorrow night. It means I want to smack some sense into Dicks Ebersol and Button, because they are RUINING THIS FOR EVERYONE. Also, I am not too dignified to say that I kind of want to see Lindsey Vonn’s gnarly shin bruise. And I want to know what cheese can do for you. Fuck, that is some air Shaun White is grabbing, yeah?

February 18th, 2010

Friday Night Lights: East of Dillon

Welcome back to Dillon, Panther fans. And Lions fans! Because we’re Lions fans now. Okay, to catch up. When last we left the good folks of Dillon, Coach Taylor had lost his job as head coach of the Panthers to his conceited QB’s private coach. He is now the coach at under-funded, athletically gerrymandered East Dillon High. Tami is still the principal at the now-renamed West Dillon High. So: conflict. Matt Saracen has been accepted to art school in Chicago. Lyla has gone to Vanderbilt and Tyra has gone to UT and we will miss their pretty, pretty hair. Tim is…going to college? Kind of? And also: Clear eyes, full hearts.

All right, all right, all right.

All right, all right, all right.

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2 comments October 29th, 2009

SPORTS. In an inspiring way!

Friends, I would like to explain something. I was watching the Tour de France on Saturday morning, as I am wont to do lately, because it is exciting and involves lycra and fun, and there was this one commercial. It’s like two minutes long and I watched the whole damn thing to find out what they were selling. I can’t find the exact commercial; the only one I can show you is last year’s vintage. But you might like it, if you like sports or awesomeness or menz. The music you hear is courtesy of Explosions in the Sky, who you might recognize from Making Y’all Cry duty in episodes of Friday Night Lights, or, if you live in Austin, I assume they just pipe it into all public areas. So here’s the commercial. It’s for Versus, and I apologize for all the hunting, which isn’t a sport.

July 20th, 2009

Universal Sports: For when you have a lot of time on your hands

Back before the Beijing Olympics started (oh! When we thrilled to beautiful photos of the Bird’s Nest and longed for the Water Cube to open!) I wrote about my sudden and spontaneous obsession with Universal Sports. Then the actual Olympics happened and I forgot about that strange channel, filled with cycling and gymnastics and diving and now, an abundance of winter sports that we rarely see on American TV unless Bode Miller or Lindsey Vonn is involved.

U Sprots brings you ALL KINDS of sprots.

U Sprots brings you ALL KINDS of sprots.

So I have a lot of spare time this week, and I’ve caught up on the Tifaux backlog, and I’ve napped, and now of course I’m awake in the middle of the night. So, six months later (hey! Today is my half birthday) I decided to catch up with the U Sprots, as I’m calling it now. I started with the speed skating world championships from Hamar, Norway, and now I’m watching the Fédération Internationale du Ski Alpine World Championships from Val d’Isere, France, which happened last weekend and was really icy and scary. Tomorrow: World Cup Luge, bobsledding, a little cycling, and more skiing and skating. There’s something really pleasant about having random sports you don’t know much about on in the background; there’s a volume of unfamiliar terminology and names that sort of melts into white noise (much like CNBC, but with less shouting), plus the literal whiteness of the picture on the screen. And sometimes it gets terrifying very quickly, like when Ted Ligety literally fell down the hill on Sunday.

Also, like everyone else, U Sprots is having trouble selling advertising. I saw the requisite ad for Monster Ballads, but this has to be by far my favorite random-ass commercial:

February 11th, 2009

Super Bowl Ads: Thumbs Down

I’m definitely someone who watches the Super Bowl more for the ads than for the game. My verdict for this year: bummer! So many ads about job-hunting services, free breakfasts, and cars that you can give back if you lose your job. I’d give it a C+ overall–and that’s because there were a lot of movie trailers bringing up the average.

I’d say, on the whole, NBC got it right. Or NBC stars, I should say. Their ads were funny–and not in that weird way that Starbursts ads THINK they’re funny when they’re really not (see also: the “grease monkey” commercial). And they managed to be funny without really talking about how the fabric of our society is unraveling around us. Take, for instance, the MacGruber ad Jesse already mentioned:

Two more of my favorites, starring Alec Baldwin and Conan O’Brien, after the jump:

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1 comment February 2nd, 2009

The Super Bowl: Now with more awesomeness

Your editors (or at least the one who cares about football) would like to congratulate our fellow alumnus of the College of William & Mary on becoming the youngest head coach ever to take a team to the Super Bowl. Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin (class of 1995) began his coaching career at Virginia Military Institute, where he worked for Bill Stewart, who is now the head coach of the West Virginia Mountaineers (I have met him; he’s swell). Here’s some trivia to impress your fellow game-watchers: Tomlin is a year younger than the opposing team’s quarterback. And he is an adorable man who resembles Omar Epps a little and he seems nice.

Also, Bruce Springsteen will be there, and the game is being held in the Raymond James Stadium of Tampa, which features a pirate ship at one end. So there’s really something for everyone.

January 30th, 2009


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