RIO DE JANEIRO – The drama surrounding this summer’s Olympic games in Rio, Brazil were supposed to be about the hosting country’s litany of problems, from corruption to congestion to pollution. Instead, the biggest flub of the event turned out to be the coverage by the American broadcast crew. According to a report, American Olympic announcers pulled 22% more stats out of their asses at the 2016 Olympic games than they did in London in 2012.
Four years ago audiences could expect to hear selective statistics on a country’s medal count, or a hyperbolic assessment of an individual athlete’s physical prowess. This year? The most obscure stats seemingly invented out of whole cloth (the kind that can’t be quickly or easily fact-checked) came spewing out of the mouths of American sportscasters like bacteria out of a Brazilian drinking fountain. In everything from a gymnast’s leg twitch speed to the total number of steroid injections probably taken by the Russian swim team, the American Olympic coverage knew no bounds for what its announcers could say off the top of the dome with a straight face.
Bob Costas, prime-time host of eleven Olympic games, responded to the allegations about NBC’s coverage. “We encourage our announcers to do independent research and trust that the sources and science used are 110% credible and authentic. Look, viewers get 65% more pleasure out of sports with an enthusiastic announcer pumping out 3 to 5 stats per minute. That’s a fact as strong as weight lifting gold medalist Shi Zhiyong, who is reportedly as strong as a sun bear.”