Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Mary, quite contrary

I usually don't mind Mary Carillo. When it comes to American sports commentators, she's right at the top, and if you're going to listen to Olympics-related chatter, it might as well be from her. But I just happened to catch a rather embarrassing segment between events (ie, filler).

Bob Costas, he of the preternaturally smooth brow, had somehow heard that golly, they eat weird things in China, so he sent out Mary to try out some of the local specialties. "I can't believe they eat this stuff!"-type hilarity ensued. At one point, she mused something along the lines of "they'll fry anything around here," right before ordering scorpion on a stick.

If you've set foot in an American county fair, you'll know that they'll fry anything around the US as well, including Spam, avocado, Oreos and frog legs (are these really any better than scorpion?). And at least scorpions can be found in nature, unlike Spam.

This type of hoo-hah provincialism is really tiresome, but it's kinda par for the course when it comes to American coverage of sports, particularly sports taking place in other countries. The New York Times is doing better in Beijing, but it's really dry—it really lacks the kind of humor and gimlet eye covering such a preposterous event requires. (I mean, Phelpsmania is just ridiculous at this point.)

For my money, the best, most irreverent Olympics coverage can be found in the pages of The Guardian, particularly its daily missive "The Beijinger." Subscribe and it'll land in your mail box every day. Of course I also read the French press, so I can follow the travails of swimming star (or should it be ex-star at this point?) Laure Manaudou and the sports we tend to excel in, like judo, fencing, canoeing, whitewater kayaking, etc.

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