It's not easy watching the Vancouver Winter Olympics from my couch. I've undergone a lot of struggles the past few weeks, or however long the Olympics has been going on (seems like forever).
Just in case NBC presents gold medals for TV viewers, I wanted to state my case for one.
(1) My wife doesn't care about sports in general, and the Olympics in particular. This means that when I sit down to watch my DirecTV recording of the evening broadcast, which runs 3 1/2 to 4 hours, at regular intervals I hear "Is it over yet?"
This disturbs my deep concentration on some important aspect of an event, such as skier Lindsey Vonn's beautiful face and attractively toned body. I lose my focus for a bit, but soon am back in fine TV viewing form with a "Not quite!" (an honest statement, since not quite is vague enough to encompass three hours more).
(2) Ignorance is TV watching bliss, but difficult to achieve. I'm having to be on my TV viewing game for much more than just the evening hours. Living in Oregon, we're in the same time zone as the Olympics. But in NBC's wisdom -- for capturing ad dollars -- the big events aren't shown live.
The results are reported in real time, though.
Thankfully, the news web sites I most frequently browse through the day, New York Times and Google News, don't splash big headlines about who won an event in an easily noticeable fashion.
However, MSNBC has done this.
I clicked on this site recently, saw a large "Lindsey Vonn wins..." and immediately fled for a safer zone of the Internet. That evening I sat down to watch the super-G confident that Vonn had won the gold medal. It was a surprise to find that she got bronze. A close "spoiler" call, no thanks to MSNBC.
A more painful spoiler came when my wife, who probably was hoping to make me speed faster through the women's slalom so she could watch something she wanted to on TV, saw an image of Vonn as she was passing by and said "I heard that she fell down."
Laurel, a woman who has never paid attention to a sporting event in her life, somehow remembered a crucial bit of Olympics news and ruined the suspense of one of the more exciting races.
Of these sorts of "I shall endure" tragedies should my gold medal for TV viewing be fashioned.
(3) My wife and I like different parts of the NBC coverage. My Winter Olympics watching wouldn't have the high degree of difficulty that it does if Laurel and I were on the same page during the infrequent moments when she actually sits down to look at the TV while I am.
I mean, since my wife doesn't like sports, you'd think that she'd be bored by all of the Olympics. If that were the case, she'd be limited to her "Is it over yet?" queries.
But it turns out, NBC be damned, that the need to fill four hours of evening coverage, when there's only about one hour of actual sporting performances to show, causes me problems.
NBC loves the human interest side of athletes, while I couldn't care less about the setbacks an ice skater has had to overcome, or the touching relationship between a bobsled competitor and his dog.
One night I was happily using the 30 second skip button to zip through a boring background piece on an American female snowboarder when I heard, "Hey, that's the most interesting stuff to me."
Dutiful husband that I am, I went back to the start of the piece and wasted several minutes of my life learning about this girl's travels around the world, who her best snowboarding friends are, and something about her fashion sense (can't remember any details; boredom tends to erase memories from my mind).
(4) The thumb of my right hand is at risk of a repetitive stress injury. Like I said, it isn't easy to lay on our couch and watch a recording of the Winter Olympics.
I'm pretty fit -- do a lot of Tai Chi, dancing, weightlifting, dog walking, and stairmastering -- but I wasn't prepared for the vast amount of fast-forward button pushing that would be necessary to view the Vancouver games.
I feel like my thumb has bonded with the fast forward button on the DirecTV remote control.
Between the ads, promotions for other NBC shows, background human interest stories on athletes (see #3 above), and boring events such as cross-country skiing, I do much more skipping than watching during a four hour recording.
Seemingly this would shorten the duration of my wife's "Is it over yet?" Unfortunately, NBC has persisted with its irritating habit of breaking up events so the most interesting outcomes aren't shown until the very end of a broadcast.
Being retired, I can stay up late. But I also like to watch the evening news, as does Laurel, so this introduces another complexity into my Winter Olympics TV watching.
When the evening broadcast runs from 8 to 12, and the local news runs from 11 to 11:30, even if I fast forward like crazy I can't watch the entire news (including sports) and also see the final Olympics events on NBC before our usual bedtime at midnight'ish without knowing who won them.
So people who talk about "couch potatoes" don't understand what I go through to watch the Winter Olympics. This is tough work. I definitely deserve a gold medal for TV viewing.
NBC, email me and I'll let you know my address where the medal can be sent. If a commemorative t-shirt comes with the medal, I'm a large.