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August 21, 2004

Olympic-Sized Arrogance

  • AP: Olympians largely barred from blogging. Athletes may be the center of attention at the Olympic Games, but don't expect to hear directly from them online -- or see snapshots or video they've taken.
  • This is about greed, nothing more and nothing less. It is about the historically corrupt International Olympic Committee's desire to please the giant media organizations to which it has sold "rights" to tell and show the world what is happening.

    The irony here is that the olympic officials are inadvertently telling us something about the future of journalism, though I'm certain they don't understand it themselves, in the context of their heavy-handed (and probably illegal) action. Because the more that regular folks -- OK, that's a stretch for the athletes -- put their own work on the Web or send it to each other by other means, the more they are becoming some of tomorrow's journalists.

    But the move is ridiculous. If an athlete phones a friend and reports what's happened, and the friend posts it online, is that somehow breaking the rules?

    Go further. Look past today's technology. What's coming will utterly wreck the Big Media monopoly over Olympic images, and all Big Event images. When all spectators have a high-quality video camera in their phones, will the powers-that-be ban phones? Unlikely. But even if they could ban phones that are obvious, what will they do when we're carrying video cameras in the buttons on our shirts, and when our eyeglasses contain phones or other transmitting devices?

    I hope athletes break this rule right and left. I also hope that they declare independence someday from the cynical and corrupt organizations that have run international sports for so long. The games are about the athletes, or should be.


  • Larry Magid also finds it outrageous, but sees athletes' blogging "more like a letter home" than journalism. I'm not so sure I can draw the line anymore.

    Posted by Dan at August 21, 2004 10:54 AM


    Rob Caracciolo has a great blog telling the tale of his training and now renamed to highlight his Athens experience.

    He is quite concerned about this regulation, as you can see from his post on August 21.

    There's lots to read there, he's quite verbose, but it's easy reading nevertheless.

    He's at http://robinathens.mindsay.com/

    Posted by: Tomun at August 23, 2004 12:24 PM

    On the other hand, this has forced some news media outlets to engage in creative, and hilarious alternatives.
    Mark Giangrco of Chicago's ABC outlet, WLS TV.
    has been using a Sony PlayStation Olymic game
    to recreate the gymnastics highlights.

    It certainly makes the IOC's unwillingness to share game video look rediculous.

    Posted by: Don Mac Gregor at August 23, 2004 03:13 PM

    The larger issue here is how are the games going to be financed? It is a predictable response for the IOC (Interests of Cash) organizers to move to protect the interests of it's sponsors. They have banned logos and products that are competitors of the official sponsors and they have banned technologies that compete with the monopolies they have set up for media coverage. These are the logical maneuvers of an old school organization that was so busy building and securing sports venues that they couldn't foresee how people wanted to experience the games. Witness the error they made in marketing the games to the Greek people. They didn't understand that the greeks vacation in August so they are elsewhere watching on TV. They should have promoted the games to vacationers from other areas looking for a place to get away. I think in the future the primary experience of the games will be virtual and the in person experience will be minimized.

    Posted by: Peter Davidson at August 24, 2004 02:22 PM

    Is there any means of finding out whether this "athletes should not serve as journalists" notion was intended by the IOC or whether it's AP's interpretation? I wouldn't allege they've ever heard about weblogs.

    Posted by: Carsten at August 24, 2004 06:37 PM

    Cleary the IOC doesn't understand what it is up against. If every athelete wrote a blog, what would the IOC do ? Sack them all. Unlikely.

    I feel this is a clear example of how the IOC along with its Big Media pals thinks that by weilding a big trasparent stick, it can get people to do what it wants. That might be the past, but it isn't going to be the future much longer.

    So much for the 'global games'

    Posted by: Thomas at September 2, 2004 08:02 PM

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