Shoot for the Bronze

Rating: NNNNNit might be the second-biggestsporting event on the planet after the World Cup, but don't go looking on the.


Rating: NNNNN

it might be the second-biggestsporting event on the planet after the World Cup, but don’t go looking on the Internet for any substantial Olympic coverage.It’s the era of mass communication, broadband Internet access and instant information, but the feudal lords at the International Olympic Committee apparently didn’t get the memo.

Sure, the Web sites of official Olympic broadcasters the CBC (www.cbc.ca/olympics) and TSN (www.tsn.ca/olympics) as well as every major newspaper and Web zine are offering periodic updates throughout the day of results and commentary, but that’s where it ends.

With billions of dollars tied up in television rights for the 2002 Games, you might think some thought would have been given to such futuristic concepts as online broadcasting and Web video feeds. You would be wrong.

For those of us who have to be at a desk during the day and can’t stare at the TV at 3 pm, waiting until the evening newscast for the day’s results in curling or skeleton can be torture. Most people who are chained to a desk are online, though.

Checking out a site for instant results and video replays would make perfect sense — except that such a site doesn’t exist.

There are no video clips or highlight reels of any Olympic activity anywhere on the Web, even on the sites of the official broadcasters. It’s infuriating, but hardly surprising.

Despite the popularity of broadband and high-speed Internet access, North American sports organizations have been slow to get into the digital broadcasting game. You can listen to some baseball and hockey games online via Net radio and occasionally see highlights, but viewing things live is out of the question.

The British soccer league experimented earlier this year with a pay-per-view Web broadcast of a match. The fee was minimal — less than $10 — but the idea was revolutionary. With so many events being held during the workday, what sports-mad fan wouldn’t splash out to be able to watch a women’s hockey game live on his or her monitor?

It’s an idea that is coming sooner rather than later expect to see the argument arise again during this summer’s World Cup. What better time to break ground than now, at the world’s premier amateur athletic competition?

Instead, the official Web sites of the 2002 Winter Games are a joke. The prestigious address www.olympics.ca looks like it’s being held by squatters. It’s a blank page with a few lines of black text about figure skating robbery and the promise of “more soon.” I’m not holding my breath.

The “official” sites, www.olympics. com and www.saltlake2002.com, are actually run by NBC. They’re slick, but like the network’s TV broadcasts, thin on actual content and filled with Team USA rhetoric.

2.1 from the surly Canadian judge.

mattg@nowtoronto.com

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