Watching the Olympics in France

Technically, I’ve already been in France for two different Olympic Games: Beijing (or Pekin as they call it here and does anyone know why?) in 2008 just before I moved back to Texas, and Vancouver in 2010. But in August 2008 I was busy spending my last week in Paris, without a TV, and in February 2010, I was, surprisingly, also in Paris, and looking for a new apartment in Poitiers. Usually I love the winter olympics, but I guess in 2010 I just had too much going on, and what with the time difference and the roommates, I didn’t really feel like I could co-opt the television.

All this is to say that this is the first time I’ve really paid attention to Olympic coverage in France (as in, I’m spending a good four hours a day watching it). Here’s what’s annoying about it.

1) They really, really, really talk 90% about French athletes. I know we focus on our own athletes in the States too. But, for example, last night the French women’s swimming 200 m relay team won the bronze, and the commentators went nuts following the Frenchwomen come in third while barely saying two words about the two teams (U.S., Australia) ahead of them.

2) They count the medals constantly. Not just by publishing the totals every day in the paper. They talk about it all the time. “France is in third in the medal count!” “This was a great race, and we have more opportunities to medal tomorrow!”

3) They sometimes don’t even call the athletes by their names. This doesn’t always apply. Yannick Agnel, Camille Muffat, Laure Flessel, Ruthless Decosse—they manage to call these (mostly gold medalists) by their names. But seriously, I watched an entire table tennis match where the competitors were just, “l’espagnole,” and “la française.” What?

Maybe I just miss being at home and being able to hear about American athletes. But I also miss the cheesy specials on different athletes from all over, telling us their back story and getting me to root for them (I’m easy to win over).

Am I being too critical here? Has it been too long since I watched the Olympics in the States to fairly judge?

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3 thoughts on “Watching the Olympics in France

  1. I was in the states for the 2008 games, and I just remember the craziness that was Michael Phelps, so I imagine it’s much the same this year too! He’s from my state, so he was of particular interest to local news teams.

    One difference I notice is that here they TALK so much more, and not even with like, a split screen to show you what’s happening somewhere else. It’s like, half an hour of talk about an event three hours from now, when we could be watching an actual event! They have that 4-way screen for five seconds, and then just go back to talking heads. Switching between the networks I understand I guess, but sometimes it’s in the middle of an event! So annoying!

    In general, I feel like it’s less of a big deal here. Maybe this year slightly more into it than usual, since they are doing pretty well in terms of medals, but most people I talk to are very “meh” about the whole thing. In the states, I feel like it was everywhere, we loooove the Olympics, but of course we do, since we win so much!

  2. This is my first time not in NZ for the summer Olympics, and I think I’ve seen maybe two NZers compete (and come last)! Coming from a smaller country, you really do miss them if you’re not watching your own country’s coverage (well, that and I’m not really interested in the sports we usually do okay in, like rowing and sailing). I keep thinking it must be great to be American, because even if you don’t win, you usually have someone in every event to cheer on.

    • That’s true, Gwan, I wouldn’t have thought of that. Btw, nice new layout on the blog!

      Andromeda: It probably helps that I talk to people who are mostly on vacation and so have some time to pay attention to it. I think if I were working I wouldn’t have much time for it either. But then my friends are pretty sporty anyway so they would probably talk about it no matter what. Julien talks to me a lot about random sports competitions going on that I usually don’t care about at all (bad girlfriend).

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