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July 13, 2012

The London Olympics’ wacky “linking policy”
Posted by Patrick at 03:23 PM * 69 comments

Spotted by the Atlantic’s Alexis Madrigal: The London 2012 Olympics organization evidently believes it can control who does and doesn’t link to their web site:

1. Agreement to these Terms of Use
BY USING THE SITE, YOU INDICATE YOUR AGREEMENT TO BE LEGALLY BOUND BY THESE TERMS OF USE, by our Privacy Policy, our guidelines on Use of the Games’ Marks, the terms and conditions governing use of the London 2012 eTendering service (“eTendering User Agreement”) and any other notices, guidelines and rules published by us on the Site from time to time (each of which is incorporated into these Terms of Use by reference), and by all applicable laws and regulations governing the Site and/or relating to the protection of the Olympic, Paralympic and London 2012 brands and preventing the creation of any unauthorised association with them. You further agree to the use of any information that we may gather relating to you as a result of your use of the Site, as further described in our Privacy Policy. […]

5. Linking policy
a. Links to the Site. You may create your own link to the Site, provided that your link is in a text-only format. You may not use any link to the Site as a method of creating an unauthorised association between an organisation, business, goods or services and London 2012, and agree that no such link shall portray us or any other official London 2012 organisations (or our or their activities, products or services) in a false, misleading, derogatory or otherwise objectionable manner.

That will certainly work! Because nobody on the Internet would ever respond to something like this by portraying the organization in question (or their activities, products, or services) in a derogatory or otherwise objectionable manner. Like, for instance, remarking that the London Olympics’ mother dresses them funny.

UPDATE: Cory on Boing Boing says: “Hey, LOCOG! I think you’re a bunch of greedy, immoral corporatist swine who’ve sold out London to a bunch of multinationals and betrayed the spirit of athleticism and international cooperation. You’re a disgrace. And I’m linking to you. In a most derogatory manner.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: Evan Goer, in comments, points to this.

Comments on The London Olympics' wacky "linking policy":
#1 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2012, 03:49 PM:

Haven't we been through this before? NPR, I think it was...a distinctly less stupid organization than the London Olympics committee.

I guess they feel they can somewhat suppress the worst excesses by intimidating people? But I'm afraid the Streisand Effect applies.

#3 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2012, 04:10 PM:

You mean like the London Olympics wears counterfeit couturier combat boots?

I could like this game.

#4 ::: Nangleator ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2012, 04:28 PM:

Somehow I picture a retired, old general, wearing only bemedaled pajamas and snow boots, on the verge of screaming at the ducks in the park because of their failure to march in proper formation.

#5 ::: Jamie ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2012, 04:35 PM:

I don't want to be the random jerk that pops in to say, who cares? Obviously, a lot of people like the Olympics. I get that. But I'm wondering, how many ML readers will actually watch some of the events? And if you do watch, are you doing so because you are either interested in the outcome or entertained? If not, what is your reason for watching?

The last sporting event that wasn't family-related that I've watched was a Superbowl match, because I was doing some work for the marketing arm of the team.

#6 ::: Ben Bradley ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2012, 04:41 PM:

Perhaps this could be a reaction to ... maybe not, this was YEARS ago...

"OMG, it's full of stars, er, um, colored rings!"
(Youtube video, perfectly safe and G-rated, else they wouldn't have shown it on TV, would they?)

#7 ::: jnh ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2012, 05:04 PM:

I think the entire internet should take them at their word and fail to provide any links at all. No Google, no bing, no Yahoo, no facebook, etc.

Olympics? What Olympics?

#8 ::: Scott W ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2012, 05:28 PM:

Jamie @5:

To answer the questions you asked: I care, and the events that I'll watch will be for entertainment. I don't, however, care because I'll watch the events.

I care because it's important to point out, sometimes to laugh at, and sometimes to fight against, the entities that try to restrict how people talk about them.

#9 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2012, 05:36 PM:

Jamie @5:

If the IOC were burbling along minding its own business while everyone minded theirs, then that would be one thing.

But the Olympics in London are excruciatingly expensive to the taxpayers, and wildly disruptive to boot. They're putting missiles on the roofs of apartment buildings and deploying the army on the streets for security. Londoners are being urged to stagger their working times to avoid disruptions and losing access to some of their roads so the athletes, officials and hangers-on can have smooth, traffic-free transport.

One tweet I saw said that London is hosting the Olympics the way that John Hurt hosted an alien. I laughed and retweeted. I have friends in London.

In the meantime, no one, not even knitters, is allowed to use words that end in "-lympics", on pain of being told to cease, desist, and stop being an insult to the Olympic spirit.

The Olympics isn't just on our TV's. For some people, it's sitting on their laps and blowing smoke in their faces. If we see a repeat of last year's riots (and in these economic conditions, that's the way to bet), the Olympics is going to kill people.

#10 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2012, 05:40 PM:

i might care a wee bit more if the televised ANY of the events i was interested in (any/all equestrian events) except highlights and/or at really weird, late/early hours on TV.

Screw 'em.

#11 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2012, 06:01 PM:

Not interested in Mrs. Romney's Olympic horse, Paula?

#12 ::: MNiM ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2012, 06:02 PM:

abi @ #9 -- Exactly that.

Personally -- Well, I've always been one of those people caught between mild dis/interest -- I like some things, mostly didn't care much about the others, regarded the institution fondly, etc.

The [redacted] at the most recent winter games was a genuine eye opener for me, and I've been paying attention to London 2012 with, frankly, increasing horror.

I don't claim to be an expert, but I have studied poli sci (and pol. phil), and war is probably my major research area -- and the Olympics scares me, on a genuine and personal level. Were hosting the Olympics to be suggested in my hometown(s) it is probably the only NIMBY protest I wouldn't feel the slightest hypocrisy in joining.

#13 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2012, 06:05 PM:

Will there be soccer? I might watch some of that.

I'm still proud of my home state, which voted to turn down the offered 1976 Winter Olympics (I think that was the year). They would have messed the place up no end. "Don't Californicate Colorado," as the bumper stickers said.

#14 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2012, 06:06 PM:

IANAL but my reading of the enabling act suggests that if I were to advertise a lecture tour on the topics of the sister ship of the Titanic and Miyamoto Musashi's 17th Century swordfighting manual that took place in England's capital this year, I could not only be stopped from doing so and sued, but also prosecuted.

Fortunately we know that the International Olympic Committee is an honourable and reasonable body who never cause any unnecessary trouble.

(Being in East Kent it hardly screws over the public transport at all, unless you want to go to or through London, which means anywhere else in the UK, any airport etc.)

#15 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2012, 06:15 PM:

I don't see a problem with thinking both that:

(1) The Olympics, as an organization, are a nasty alliance between some of the most corrupt forces in our global culture today, with a decades-long track record of partnership with the forces of fascism and authoritarianism, and a long history of mounting vicious attacks on free expression wherever they are scheduled to be held. And

(2) The Olympics are sometimes a compelling spectacle featuring brilliantly talented individuals performing prodigious feats that we can't tear our eyes away from.

Both of these things are true. It's a big complicated world.

#16 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2012, 06:17 PM:

Wait, I've just moaned about the Olympics without actually addressing the link issue. It's the usual legal notice creep. Someone in a meeting says that they should note in their Terms of Use, that false or misleading links are not the responsibility of the website, the IOC, London 2012 etc. Someone else says, let's make that stronger, and make that against the terms of use. The resulting document gets passed around, and the strongest wording gets agreed on, because, hey, there's no downside and who wants people linking to the Olympic website in anything other than an appropriate and respectful manner? Whoever signs off, who may not be as internet savvy as we might hope, approves, as they've just prevented anyone doing nonsense to their site. So we end up with this rubbish.

#17 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2012, 06:29 PM:

Abi @ 9... London is hosting the Olympics the way that John Hurt hosted an alien

Seanan McGuire recently said she saw "Alien" when she was *very* young. It didn't scare her. She'd thought it was just a flower looking for love.

#18 ::: MNiM ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2012, 06:34 PM:

Patrick Nielsen Hayden @ #15: "Both of these things are true. It's a big complicated world."

I don't disagree. But, for me, point 1 had an almost Omelas-impact on my ability to enjoy point 2.

#19 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2012, 06:45 PM:

The Olympics have two cuddly toy mascots, Wenlock and Mandeville.

Toy plushies are being sold.

Along with much more dubious souvenirs.

No, seriously: go click on that last link, assimilate the full horror of the product, then read the customer reviews.

The Blitz Spirit is still alive and screaming from inside's reader reviews ...

#20 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2012, 06:47 PM:

Not fair! The gnomes are fondling my comments again!

#21 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2012, 07:48 PM:

Paula @ 10:

The history of the *l*mpc*s over the last couple of decades has been a steady erosion of the TV coverage of interesting events here in the US. If I remember correctly the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney was the last one I tried to watch for any length of time; IIRC I saw all the equestrian coverage, which was about 10 or 15 minutes, and there was no coverage of fencing1 at all.

This year promises to be even worse, if the coverage of the US gymnastic trials is any indication: they spent literally no more than 10% of the broadcast showing actual competition, and missed showing at least 3/4 of the competitors completely. And the commentary was even more inane than it has been in the past.

1. I fenced in high school and college, and I live in Portland, where the US Olympic fencing coach lives and works, so it's an event I really like to watch.

#22 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2012, 08:09 PM:

I mostly gave up on watching the Olympics starting with the Sydney games, when I realized that the American broadcast would contain exactly zero seconds of live coverage.

And, in the spirit of the original post, here's a link to the biggest control freaks in the world.

#23 ::: Chris has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2012, 08:11 PM:

Don't know why, except maybe for the one link to the site that this thread is about.

#24 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2012, 08:54 PM:

abi @ 9
In 1984 people were asked to stagger their work schedules, and it worked pretty well. (The company I work at has people who come in at 6:30 in the morning, and others who get in at 9, and various times in between. It works pretty well.)

#25 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2012, 09:33 PM:

Sorry for the inadvertent gnoming. Making Light appears to be under a greater-than-usual spam attack, and Jim is off to Readercon, so the filter sensitivity got turned up. We'll try to monitor threads and un-gnome in a timely manner.

#26 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2012, 09:49 PM:

I have been watching the Olympics since the 1970s and am dismayed at the general trend of American tv coverage in recent years, to the point of writing letters to the broadcasters.

I want to see the sports, and I want to see more than just the US competitors or non-US competitors with "heartwarming" stories. I actually want to see the events, and as much of them as possible.

(I like baseball and most Olympic-type sports.)

#27 ::: Karen ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2012, 10:02 PM:

@13 Yes there is soccer; the US Men didn't qualify, but the US Women will be there and tend to do very well.

I like the Olympics. I like watching odd sports (team handball, yea!) and that the women don't get as shorted as usual in sports. Although I did prefer the Canadian coverage two years ago.

#28 ::: Megpie71 ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2012, 10:15 PM:

I have to admit, the last time I actually was interested in the lmpcs was back in 1992. Even when they were three hours down the road from Canbrrra back in 2000, I wasn't overly interested in tuning in to the coverage. Admittedly, this was partially because I'd been reading the various books by Andrew Jennings, and realised just how much of a corrupt organisation the IOC is. I was also less than impressed with the way that the organising committee for the lmpcs in Sydney were so very, very po-faced about things - no taking the mickey, no laughing at the great and grand, and oh BOY, did they hate the stuff that Australian comedians came up with in relation to the Sydney games.

If you want a few giggles, have a look for "The Games" starring John Clarke and Bryan Dawe (it was broadcast on the ABC here in the lead-up to the games, and turned out to be a "Yes Minister" style send-up of the bureaucratic idiocies involved in putting on such a major athletic performance) or look up "Roy and HG" and their coverage of the 2000 games (and their alternative Australian mascot, Fatso the fat-arsed wombat[1]).

Then again, the Organising Committee were on a dodgy wicket from the point where they insisted on no other sporting events rivalling their precious Games, even though they were hosting them in the tail end of September[2]. They also lost a lot of support when it became clear that a lot of things were being arranged in order to avoid upsetting the US broadcasters (which is why we were having a Summer lmpcs during the tail end of winter here), right up to things like imposing early daylight saving that year (again, September rather than the end of October) so as to diminish the time interval between the US and the Australian east coast.

I can't be the only person tempted toward creating a series of facetious "competitions" for future Organising Committees, along the lines of "greatest lack of sense of proportion/humour", "greatest imposition on population of host city", and similar such "events".

[1] Fatso wound up being more popular with the Australian public than the "official" games mascots, much to the disgruntlement of the Organising Committee.
[2] Football finals season. The sensible person does not get between an Australian football fan and their code-of-choice.

#29 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2012, 10:16 PM:

The unusual sports can be the most interesting - I liked watching curling. Dressage is fun: the horses are more interesting than the riders.

#30 ::: Megpie71 ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2012, 10:49 PM:

Melissa Singer @26:

Don't get me started on the Australian television coverage. It hasn't been worth a cent since the late 1980s, when the national broadcaster got kicked out of the "preferred broadcaster" league due to the howls of the corporate sponsors about not being permitted to broadcast their advertising material. Now, prior to this, the ABC had been supplying quality sporting coverage for anything and everything. They knew what the viewers wanted to see (the events themselves, not the advertising) and they knew how to source knowledgable commentators from the sporting community. They knew that doing stupid things like cutting from the finals of the basketball to cover the preliminary heats of the formation tiddleywinks (because there was an Australian team competing in the tiddleywinks) wasn't a good idea in the first place, but if they had to, then they kept filming the final in order to replay it later. Cutting to the studio was kept to a minimum, and I don't recall ever seeing a slow-motion, soft-focus montage of "inspirational" scenes as a filler. Heck, if the ABC was going to supply filler, they'd cut to the newsroom (this was back when the ABC was the source of quality television journalism in this country, rather than being a neutered, quivering, shivering mess that regurgitated the Murdoch party line word for word) and give a set of news headlines instead.

But they had a policy of not permitting advertising. That upset the sponsors, so the sponsors lobbied to allow the big commercial television networks to handle all the sporting events. For a while, the ABC was allowed to co-broadcast, taking on the less popular events and doing a sterling job with those, but then there came the notion of being the "official" broadcasters (because that made money for the IOC, and thus was conceived of as being a Good Thing) and behold the job of broadcasting the games went to the network which was prepared to pay the most for it (and thus show the greatest amount of advertising from the Corporate Sponsors in order to make up costs). This spread to other sporting events, the ABC got priced out of the market for sporting coverage of anything popular, and we lost a damn good sporting broadcaster.

I've no idea what the whole mess looks like now - I gave up watching television around about the time I moved to Canbrrra.

#31 ::: Jamie ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2012, 11:08 PM:

This is why I love Charlie. Holy crap, we live in a grim, meathook future.

Is there a nationalist bent to watching, for those of you who do, wanting the home team to win? Or is it about watching who can best (insert event stats here)? Again, I am not smirking. That is stupid. I just don't get part of this, and wonder what others do, that leads to missiles on homes, like it is WWII or something. Of course, there's regulatory capture, &tc. But if the proles didn't care, it would die.

#32 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2012, 11:15 PM:

Megpie: Actually, ABC here used to be the Olympics station as well, lol, and they also did a generally smashing job, often under the supervision of Jim McKay, a noted sportscaster, along with Howard Cosell (ditto, though I never liked him much).

For a whole bunch of Olympics, though, it's been NBC, and hosted by Bob Costas, who is nominally a sports journalist but really is more of a "color" guy, a personality reporter rather than a sports reporter. (There are some excellent "color" journalists, especially in baseball, but they don't belong in the Olympics as far as I am concerned.)

Today's American Olympics flap: why were the uniforms for the US team made in China? The designer, Ralph Lauren, has vowed that the uniforms for the next games will be manufactured in the US.

Today's real US Olympics flap: a dead heat between two women runners causes a big mess. Several photos analyzed in an attempt to determine the actual winner, without success (in the angles where both women's bodies can be seen, they look like they are crossing the finish line together; from other angles, arms and legs obscure the relative positions of torsos and finish line). Dead heat proposed, accepted, then declined. I'm still not sure why the woman who gave up her spot in that event agreed to do that, but it seems she will be running in a different event, so perhaps she was being sporting and allowing the other woman a shot at a medal?

#33 ::: Melissa Singer is visitng the gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2012, 11:19 PM:

probably for repeated use of the Word in Question.

Plums? My icebox is full of them.

Jamie: in some events, I root for Americans. Not because they are Americans, but because I've been paying attention to their careers for a while (well, that's because they're Americans so appear on US sports broadcasts, but not "because" they're Americans). In others, I root for other people who I know of because, well, I follow some of these sports.

It's mostly, for me, about watching people who are really good at something do the thing they are really good at.

[It was the mention of "Ralph Lauren'" that did it. -- Ronaflex Creel, Duty Gnome]

#34 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2012, 11:57 PM:

I love the Olympics, in all of their ambiguous, messed-up hypocritical glory. Every two/four years, I get seriously annoyed at U.S. broadcasting habits--enough with the smarmy "human interest" stories! Show the competition already! But that's another issue. Do I automatically root for the American athletes? I don't think so. I tend to root for underdogs, for people I recognize, and for people who outdo themselves to achieve personal bests--I love being amazed at what human beings are capable of, in any endeavor. I expect I'll be rooting for a lot of Brits this time around, because I tend to enjoy it when the host country does well (unless I've got a problem with the host country for some reason, but even then I try not to blame the athletes). Rooting for the Americans is kind of the default--when I honestly have no preference one way or the other and feel like taking a rooting interest.

I dislike the medal counts. I don't mind the commercialism (I have a high tolerance for tacky). I am embarrassed at the expense. I love torch relay, the torch-lighting at the opening ceremony, and the closing ceremonies when everyone bounces all over the field and they all take pictures of each other, while the commentators try to keep track of what's going on (and usually fail miserably). I love learning about the obscure sports and watching the people who care about them go bananas at the chance to share.

What can I say? It's a party, and it's fun. And LOCOG is being a killjoy, because part of the fun is reacting and being silly and even making fun of ourselves and the whole idea. Sigh . . .

#35 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 12:52 AM:

Megpie71, #28: Isn't "fat-arsed wombat" a tautology? :-)

#36 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 01:18 AM:

I can't stand the human interest stories, or the jingoistic medals count.

I got a big kick out of watching archery one year. I knew that Robin Hood splitting the arrow in the bullseye was bunk, but I had no idea how very hard archery is. The finals of a competition with the top people in the world, highly trained, with high technology bows and arrows ... don't do all that well.

#37 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 02:08 AM:

NBC Universal's Viewer's Guide. MSNBC will have sports like badminton, soccer, table tennis and basketball. CNBC is Boxing central.

Perhaps most useful: " will provide comprehensive live streaming -- all 32 sports, all 302 events -- through a combination of host-broadcaster feeds and simul-streams of NBCU cable channels. The streaming coverage will be available online and in a dedicated mobile app, at no additional cost to authenticated cable, satellite or telco customers."

#38 ::: Linkmeister is visiting the gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 02:10 AM:

Here, ladies and gnomes, have some potato & leek soup. My sister got it for me thinking I'd not be able to eat solid food for a few days.

#39 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 03:30 AM:

bouncing off Megpie71 @ #28:

John Clarke's contribution to the subject this time around was a three part documentary called Sporting Nation, exploring Australia's relationship with sport, with especial attention to the Olympics. It held my attention, and I don't watch sport.

It's still on iView for another week, if you're interested and have an internet connection that works with iView.

#40 ::: James E ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 05:24 AM:

What Abi said @9 and more, so much more. The stupidity and greed of these Olympics is fractal: the involvement as sponsors of Dow "Bhopal disaster" Chemical and Atos, the firm which has killed over a thousand disabled people by ruling them fit to work; the "regeneration" which involved evicting thriving businesses and a travellers' community; the theft of public green space at Leyton and Hackney Marshes with only paper-thin guarantees of getting it back; the "no chips in the Olympic park" fiasco; the destruction of the Bow Back Rivers, a strange and beautiful wilderness like nothing else in London; the hundreds of millions stuffed into the pockets of a private security firm which can't recruit enough staff even in a period of sky-high unemployment; the pointless last-minute closure of a busy towpath which forces children to cycle across a series of dangerous road junctions... and so much more.

This isn't a sporting event, it's an occupation.

#41 ::: tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 06:26 AM:

The Morris Ring of England has issued this important message to its members on behalf of the Joint Morris Organisation.

Let's hope that no such spontaneous displays of national culture arise to mar the dignity of the occasion.

#42 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 10:02 AM:

James E @40: This is why NYC residents heaved a sigh of relief when "our" ridiculous lympcs bid (for these very games, if memory serves) went up in smoke. The mayor and gov't wanted it . . . the people, not so much.

And I strongly suspect the venues wouldn't be finished yet . . . .

#43 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 10:06 AM:

Mary Frances @34 comes closest to my view. I like watching the coverage because of liking the product of talent and training. I like the symbol of international cooperation despite acknowledging the many issues. I like sports I wouldn't normally watch. I even like the heartwarming stories, in small doses. I get annoyed by things about it, but not enough to completely disrupt my enjoyment.

And, as it happens, my two kids are "Olympic babies." I was watching the summer Olympics one year while in labor with daughter the elder, and the winter Olympics 18 months later while on bedrest before the birth of daughter the younger.

#44 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 10:12 AM:

Janetl: Archery, of a limited type, is in my toolkit, so I'm fascinated by the high-tech version. I originally learned to shoot at camp when I was 8, with a plastic bow, and a year or two later, with a plastic recurve bow. I was bunk champ and then girls' champ for a couple of years. Then shot at college, a bit, and learned to size and fletch arrows from the coach, a former Olympian. Also learned to use sights and stabilizers.

This was my first (and, now that I think of it, only) "performance of a sport" (as opposed to swimming, which was flat out fun and which I never did competitively). It was rather a neat thing to learn and gain some mastery of, especially since I'm left-handed (with all right-handed teachers who sometimes seemed overly confused about how to teach me--seriously, not that hard) and don't have true binocular vision.

I especially loved strapping on all the gear; putting it on became part of my preparation to shoot, and I shot better when I went through all the steps in the "right" order.

But, given a plastic bow, a target, and a bunch of arrows, I can, even today, amuse myself for hours.

#45 ::: Pfusand ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 11:48 AM:

Janetl (36)

The 'Robin Hood' splitting of an arrow with another arrow isn't really "bunk" (but there's luck involved). My friend Chip did it once, and my college roommate Gail did it three times in high school.

#46 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 01:05 PM:

Jamie @31:

Yes, I watch the *l*mp*cs -- both Winter and Summer. There are sports that I follow, figure skating and collegiate/NFL football; and sports I find entertaining to watch: diving, swimming, gymnastics, beach volleyball, skiing, luge and bobsled.

If US television covered more equestrian events, I would be watching those as well. Unfortunately, unless a US competitor does well, I can't count on seeing any of it.

I've gotten the impression that there are very few fen who are also fond of sports...

#47 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 01:09 PM:

We've been watching Twenty Twelve on BBC America, a satirical look at the "planning" of the London lmpcs. An office full of completely clueless bureaucrats and technocrats (the IT guy is priceless, and the "Head of Brand" could not possibly survive in any organization run by any primates of normal intelligence) succeed in getting nothing accomplished with much thrashing and spinning every week.

#48 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 01:16 PM:

Lori Coulson: my experience seems to indicate that there are plenty of fen who like sports but don't talk about it much in fannish company, expecting that no one else likes sports.

Bruce Cohen: I've heard that that series is quite funny. One of the things that sometimes makes me wish I had cable.

#49 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 01:23 PM:

Melissa, #48: My experience is that there are a number of fen who have some interest in at least one sport, but who don't consider it the only thing (or even the most important thing) worth discussing with their friends. Ditto TV shows.

#50 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 01:38 PM:

At one time I was a great fan of the gymnastic events in the Summer lmpcs, and the skating events in the Winter lmpcs. Over the last 20 years or so I've pretty much stopped paying them any attention because of the way the rules and management of the events have changed. Women's gymnastics is now dominated by 12 to 14 year-olds who started intensive training at 6; I can't imagine how much damage has been done to their bodies by the time they get to the lmpcs (the most common injuries IIRC are stress fractures and knee damage). Skating has become so technical that the only thing that counts is jumps; single skaters had better be able to do quad jumps or they can't get a medal at all. And the artistry that excited me in the 1980s and 90s (from skaters like Torvill and Dean, Brasseur and Eisler, Michelle Kwan, and Midori Ito) seems now to be counted against the competitors.

#51 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 02:26 PM:

Lee @49: whiff of condescension there? There's plenty of cool stuff to discuss when it comes to sports and TV shows. As much as there is when discussing sf/f, evolutionary theory, competing deities, and the discover of the Higgs boson.

#52 ::: Jamie ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 02:38 PM:

@50 Bruce - Is it that annoyance with the ranking system lessens the enjoyment, or that the ranking system bends competitors to do things you enjoy watching less?

In general, the transparent profiteering would turn me off, even if I was otherwise engaged. But it it true, as TNH says, that this is a complicated world. That's why we get paid the big bucks.

#53 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 02:40 PM:

Bruce Cohen @50: I became a fan of figure skating in 1968 when Peggy Fleming won the gold medal in Grenoble.

I'm so fed up with the current system, that I'd love to see figures required again -- I think that's the only way to bring artistry back. I like your list of skaters -- I'd add Paul Wylie, Todd Eldrege, and John Misha Petkovich to that list.

#54 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 04:27 PM:

Re: Charlie Stross @ 19, a small divergence to mention that I clicked the third link and then scrolled down a bit on the page, to that part where you get a list of things also viewed by people viewing the subject item. And I found, included in that list, a book by one Carlton Mellick III entitled "The Haunted Vagina" (provocatively priced at GBP 6.66)...and in the upper-right corner of the image accompanying the link to said book is the invitation to "Look Inside!"


#55 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 05:21 PM:

Count me in as another who would like a return to figures in skating, and more emphasis on artistry and musicality. The latter two are still officially judging criteria, iirc, but are generally ignored in favor of flashy jumps.

Watched some synchro diving recently--now, that looks quite difficult!

#56 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 11:23 PM:

Kip W @13: Denver is apparently contemplating a bid for the '22 Olympics. One hopes they demur....

#57 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 03:12 AM:

Jamie @ 52:

It's the effect on the competitors that bugs me: the really artistic ones can't compete (and they need to continue to win in order to continue to train, since training costs more per year than attending an Ivy League college), and so it's hard to get to see the artistry of the best skaters.

What finally soured me on the whole thing was watching Michelle Kwan, one of the most artistically talented skaters ever, end her Olympic career because she couldn't do a quadruple jump in competition.

Lori Coulson @ 53:

My list is nowhere near complete, though the numbers get smaller after the 1990s. There's another thing about world-level skating competition: there has been in the past a great deal of gender discrimination. There's a French woman skater whose name I've lost who was rumored to be gay, and who was routinely judged more severely than others at the same level of ability; IIRC she never got better than 4th place in any event in the lmpcs. Also the male and female roles are sacrosanct in pairs skating:, Brasseur and Eisler once did a routine (in competition) in which they swapped roles, and were severely punished by the judges and the brother/sister pair Isabelle and Paul Duchesnay once did a unisex routine in which they dressed exactly alike, and were also punished for it.

#58 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 01:48 PM:

Bruce Cohen: Do you remember Torville and Dean's Broadway routine at Lillehammer? The one that SHOULD have gained them the gold?

It looked like an Astaire/Rogers dance, and Gene Kelly sent them a telegram at the Games telling them how much he liked it. Why did it lose? Because it didn't tell a story like the routines of Bestimianova and Bukhin (yech!).

As far as I'm concerned Michelle Kwan should have skated at Lillehammer instead of that twit Tonya Harding. I'd love to see the timeline where Kwan beat Oksana Baiul and Nancy Kerrigan...

I'll admit I haven't watched as much as I did prior to 2000, but less events are being televised, and they're boring. So what if the guy can do a quad? When I watch any of it now, I'm more inclined to watch ice dance than any of the others.

#59 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 01:56 PM:

Like a bunch of others here, I like the idea of a very diverse group of athletes competing, and a lot of the events fascinate me. But like a bunch of others her, I find it so hard these days to actually get to watch the events I'd like to that I don't make much effort. I could shell out for some kind of special access but I'm not keen about rewarding the media arm of the rotten apparatus perched atop the people I'd like to see in action.

#60 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 02:33 PM:

Perhaps off-topic, perhaps nitpicky, but reading this part of Patrick's post today

"Like, for instance, remarking that the London Olympics’ mother dresses them funny." --PNH, OP, today

was a bit distressing, given this exchange yesterday:

"You know, some of us did have mothers who dressed us funny (not necessarily in the cross-dressing mode, just clunky and ill-fitting for me). Don't know if I have to go to the dysfunctional families thread to say that that meme can get pretty old. (I'm capable of dressing myself funny in the current day.)" --Lenny Bailes

"I apologize for hurting you. Considering where I've talked about how my parents dressed me as a kid, I should have known better than to use that phrase so lightly. I'll be more careful in the future." --abi

I do understand that not everyone is 100% caught up on everyone else's posts and their newest comments within 24 hours. But it still made a jarring impression.

#61 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 03:10 PM:

Lori Coulson @ 58:

Do you remember Torville and Dean's Broadway routine at Lillehammer? The one that SHOULD have gained them the gold?

I sure do remember it, and you're absolutely right; that may have been the best performance of pairs skating I've ever seen and it certainly deserved the gold at Lillehammer.

As for Tonya Harding, I'm sorry to say that she comes from my own adopted home town of Portland, and so every time she hiccups she's in my news.

#62 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 03:32 PM:

Nicole @60:

Patrick's post is from Friday. It predates my conversation with Lenny. Furthermore, he's on the road at the moment, and not in a position to be caught up on anything much.

But I'll bring it to his attention when he's got more than two synapses free.

#63 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 05:13 PM:

Bruce @ 50

Add the number of those girls who will train intensively and never even rise to national level, despite sacrificing their childhoods to practice, competition, and molding themselves to the expectations of other people. Eating disorders are also pretty common.

The same medical problem that put me in physical therapy as an adult made me look really flashy and impressive in gymnastics as a little girl. We opted out of competition, because the physical, social, and financial costs were so high, and the promised payout was trivial. (I was given a say; as I recall, my evaluation was that the people at the expensive studio didn't seem very nice, so it wasn't fun.)

It's very different from sports like soccer, which are played by mature athletes, capable of making informed decisions about tradeoffs. I wish they would establish maximum training hours for little girls. I don't think you could stop people from olympic-tracking six-year-olds, but I wish they would at least cap the amount of damage being done to their social lives and bodies.

#64 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2012, 02:06 AM:

I gather that the libking policy has led the Olympics to be referred to in some quarters as 'Voldesport' (ie, the Sporting Event That Cannot Be Named).

#65 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2012, 06:34 AM:

abi @ #9:

Having a route-to-work going through Stratford (as in "changing at"), I've taken the main games off. I haven't, yet, decided if I'll be elsewhere, but as there seems to be some sort of massive influx into Edinburgh at the time, I will not be there either.

More generally:

It was also rather uncomfortable, back when London was trying to get the games, seeing the big ledgers at Stratford Station, where one could hand-write one's message of support (or, as I am given to believe, one's message of unsupport, resulting in ledgers being Taken Away). Yet, no one actually asked London (as in "had a referendum") if London wanted the games or not. I guess the answer would've bene "yes", but it would've been damned good to know.

#66 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2012, 06:30 PM:

Paula @10: Tangential to the main discussion here, but if you have cable television supplied by a company not actually known as Cromcast, and now calling itself something even sillier, they claim to have all the events, AND trials, available through On Demand.

My housemate and I were happy to be able to watch the platform and platform synchro diving trials. We became fans in 2008 for the same sorts of shallow reasons that cause some men to be glued to women's beach volleyball events, and then wound up learning things about the technical aspects and really enjoying it as a sport and following several divers' careers.

Everyone who's been discussing figure skating: a million times yes. I sometimes wonder if the sport didn't peak in 1994 and it's been all downhill since. Some of my favorite skaters even then were stronger on artistry than on technical aspects, and even then it was sad to see them ranked lower than the ones who could do the most demanding jumps. I always had a strong appreciation for Chen Lu, who had the most perfectly, balletically curved arms you could see anywhere, and incredible musicality.

The only skater to remind me of her in recent years?

Johnny Weir.

#68 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2012, 02:56 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @ 67:

I wonder how the lmpc Committee would react if they were hit by the divine equivalent of a DCMA takedown notice from the original intellectual property rights owners: Zeus & Co. of Mt. Olympus. And I do mean hit.

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