Thursday, August 14, 2008

NBC Coverage of Olympics leaves Puerto Ricans wanting

First of all, lets give credit where credit is due. NBC's coverage of the Beijing Olympics is better than ever with more content, better production, and best of all, with Bob Costas at the helm. NBC has done a great job.

However, take the Opening Ceremonies with its parade of nations, for example. The commentators said something about every country, dropping interesting facts like its geographical location or an interesting anecdote about a certain athlete. So 8.5 million Puerto Ricans watching the ceremonies expected at least the same. Maybe a word about our flag bearer who many believed carried the best hope for a medal in these Olympics, or perhaps a quick mention of how the Puerto Rican National Basketball team was the first one to defeat the Dream Team. Instead, as soon as the Puerto Rico delegation stepped into the stadium all we got was, "and here is Puerto Rico." to be followed by talk of the anticipation for the American delegation and how it was necessary to take a commercial break before they came out. I believe there was at best 3 seconds of on-camera time for the delegation.



This was taken in stride by all Puerto Ricans. Noticed, but taken as what we are made to feel like, an afterthought.

The only other mention of Puerto Rico came during the US v. China basketball game, to remind the American audiences why the Dream Team was now dubbed the Redeem Team. But other than that brief mention, nothing.

Fair enough, I thought. We are not in serious contention for medals in most sports, other than in boxing, and NBC doesn't seem interested in boxing this year. Fine.

But last night Puerto Ricans felt truly ignored and rejected. During coverage of the All ARound Gymnastics finals we knew a Puerto Rican was in the house. Luis Rivera Rivera had made it into the finals and was competing on par with China, the US, Russia, Japan, Germany, and France. Like it has become our custom we did not expect NBC to focus on Rivera, but still we watched. We sat there staring past the foreground and into the events happening in the background looking for Rivera's Olympic uniform. We stayed up and watched.



First its was a blurry figure in the background chalking his hands, then it was a passing glance of his shoulder and another out-of-focus shot of his figure walking off the mat in the distance. We watched all night for any brief mention of his standings. Perhaps an on-screen graphic which could tell us how he was doing. They do it in swimming, so why not put up a simple ordered list of each athlete's standing. Instead when the graphic finally appeared it listed 1st ,2nd, 3rd, 4th, 12th, 14th. WHAT? Was it really too much to ask to show us everyone's standing? Was Rivera in 5th place? Was he in 13th place?

Then there was my mother, who sat all night watching with me, with her film camera intent on catching a glimpse of the first Puerto Rican in over a decade to reach this far into Olympics Gymnastics. She wanted a picture, not because we know him, because we do not. But because he is Puerto Rican. Because every now and then it is nice to know that a Puerto Rican is competing in front of the whole world. Because someday a Puerto Rican will win a Gold Medal and our national anthem will be played for all the world to hear... Someday.

But last night, 8.5 million Puerto Ricans (in the island, in the U.S., in Iraq & Afghanistan, scattered across the world) just wanted to see a glimpse of recognition, a mention of his name for his family in Naguabo, a comment about his chances, or simply just his name and standing in the midst of others in the competition. But we got nothing.

Luis Rivera Rivera, finished 14th in the overall standings. Out of 6.5 billion people on Earth last night he became the 14th best all around gymnast. The third best in the western hemisphere. A Puerto Rican who made us all proud, even if NBC couldn't be bothered.

(From last night's competition at China's National Indoor Stadium at the Beijing 2008 Olympics, here are some pictures from El Nuevo Dia, AP, and Getty News Service)



13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Preach it bro, that shit pissed me off.

Qhuso said...

I thought is was just me who felt that the PR athlet was not given proper coverage wile others were given too much!!!!

Del said...

Great article. I was screaming at the TV when NBC went on commercial break without even mentioning something about Puerto Rico. On the day of the all around I thought I was seeing things when I thought I saw someone in a Puerto Rican Uniform. I cannot believe he came in 14th place and not even a brief mention of him. Disgraceful!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your comments. I am a Puerto Rican living in the US and married to an american. He could not understand why I was so upset during the opening ceremony. Was it that hard to understand? Thank you for your coverage. I have been following the NBC gymnastics every day and did not know about our Luis Rivera Rivera. Thank you so much!!! Proud to be a Boricua.

Anonymous said...

Yeah I feel you guys. Welcome to our world, the Afro-Latino's world. That's how many of us feel when we are ignored in the Spanish speaking channels. We are hardly seen at the national level. It's like we don't exist.

Anonymous said...

when will the puerto ricans ever unite?, the u.s. treats us with disrespect and still you have p.ricans thinking ignorantly that things will change, hell no! the u.s. military has a saying we do not give anything for nothing!, and respect is something, earn it , we are a hispanic people and in an anglo world we will never be equal to them, according to their way of thinking , now is the time to prove that we are better than their thoughts of us, feel pride. and do something about it.

Anonymous said...

puertoricans should be aware that there is no equality , that there is double a standard when it comes to us for we are an occupied nation for the last 100 or so years(1898), equality comes with respect and if there is no respect why expect equality, the olympics is a world theater and what better stage to show the world what quality of people the puerto ricans are, but if there is no unity amongst the puerto ricans, then why complain?
puerto ricans worldwide should protest as a group to show the world that we are equals and that prejudism should not be tolerated by not even mega corporate broadcast stations.

Anonymous said...

If by now anybody hasn’t learn that for any athlete any silver even bronze is not enough and all they want is that gold medal. You can see it in their faces when in swimming, gymnastics, etc. whoever gets the silver and bronze are happy but there is always that but… all they want is that precious gold. Anyhow, as we pride ourselves for being Puerto Ricans, bla bla bla, please explain to me how the government, private entities or even personal donations were provided if any to develop athletes in Puerto Rico. I am certain the answer is none. Who from your own pocket will give and sponsor an athlete? The answer is none. We do not give any money out to support an athlete to not work and just focus on sport so they can bring gold. Check other country, that’s all they do and get support from wherever. That’s how important sports are for other countries. When we get to that level we will then understand that our efforts are worth watching. I support 100% all Puerto Rican athletes and am sadden by now getting enough coverage during the openings, but before crying and winning what is our 4 year plan for the next Olympics. We as Puerto Rican belief we are better than other Latin American countries. Well they all got medals. We have the potential to produce talented athletes in that little island. But the priorities are not in sports and we all know it, so leave with it and move on.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad I wasn't the only person outraged by NBC's p'shaw attitude towards Puerto Rico.

Anonymous said...

As a country, Puerto Rico is irrelevant - all successful Ricans have left the country and fled to the US anyway. I'm actually suprised the country has a delegation in the Olympics.

Anonymous said...

I am a Latino-American and I always wonder why Puerto Ricans are allowed to vote for the next US President and why Puerto Rico has a governor but not a President.
Maybe because they are a "Estado Libre Associated."
So stop winning and join the US delegation.

NBCisracist said...

NBC has been dissing all Latinos. We watched the platform diving several nights and the Cuban, Mexican, and Colombian divers were all in the top 10 and medal contention yet NBC did not show them once on their telecast! Yet they showed the British and American divers who finished behind the Latinos.

JuanBobo said...

The PR govnmt should be ashamed of itself. Even the Dominican Republic got a gold medal in the very sport we are world champions at - Boxing! What's going on??