What defect makes it so hard for speakers to understand the effect of their own words? I ask following today’s visit from a window whiz who verbally leapt from flashing to sashes to sill stops and drip caps in numbing and discomfiting crescendo.
Did he immensely enjoy the sound of his own voice or sincerely express his fenestration exaltation? Got that?
I don’t know the answer but the dilemma propels me to my niggling notion about the continuing, seemingly requisite A.B.C's—arrogance, braggadocio, and crassness—of Olympic coverage recited by many London chroniclers.
Some nationalistic emotions by viewers and reporters alike are assured. If you doubt that, you missed the Olympic tennis scoreboard at Wimbledon: Great Britain v. Switzerland, not Murray v. Federer. But scolding, ridicule and foolish presumptions of victory need not follow.
Almost forgotten now, by an embarrassed Chicago Tribune and New York Post (originals expunged from their respective websites), are headlines that reverberate in my skull like a shot putter's gut-busting yowl. The Tribune’s indefensible “Michael Failps” header renamed ‘worthless’ U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps after his first race fourth-place finish. The Post’s headline was similarly boorish: “Phlop! Flying fish smoked on the water.”
When Americans Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser, Olympic beach volleyball defending champions, faced a young Italian team in the quarterfinals, a knowledgeable NBC crew prepped viewers on what to expect: The teams split four previous 2012 matches and the Italians were “dangerous and on the rise.” The announcers pondered whether they were “ready to take down the U. S. team.” Though the Italian team’s victory didn’t surprise the well-informed viewer, the broadcasters seemed to forget everything they’d said, calling the match a “shocking monster loss” for the Americans. The conquered, however, were quite composed. “They beat us at our own game,” Dalhausser said, and Rogers “wish[ed] them all the best. Great team, good men.”
Once more, following a 37-hour pre-performance paean to McKayla Maroney's inevitable gold medal in the women’s vault final, our announcers were unhinged by her second vault’s anomalous sit-down landing.
Only after winning the silver did they acknowledge her then-apparent-to-them human vulnerability. “She didn’t do as great a vault on her first and she tried to stick this one cold and that’s very dangerous on forward landing vaults,” analyst Elfi Schlegel said.
Most Americans accept the aphorism “On any given Sunday…” during professional football’s’ 16-game season. Why don’t our nation’s sublime quadrennial amateurs deserve the same respect?
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