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July 28, 2012


@ Sujatha,

Do you remember when musician and composer John Tesh announced the gymnastics competitions at the 1992 and 1996 Summer Olympics? I still don't know what NBC was thinking.


I seemed to have missed the Tesh gushing over the 1992 and 1996 competitions. There are a couple of samples that don't give an idea of how terrible it might have been ( Tesh intoning 'Another Russian gymnast had a fall' just as Dominique Moceanu is dazzling in her floor routine is the only faux pas that I could find).

@ Sujatha,

Tesh was a news announcer for a while, and he covered the first US televising of the Tour de France. He was not a stranger to TV announcing. Before your time (I think it's safe for me to say this) when ABC covered the Olympics, the coverage was provided by sports journalists who devoted a significant portion of their careers to world class sports competitions. They were encyclopedic experts on the athletes, their sports, and the world of international competitions. Jim McKay and his colleagues at ABC set the high standard, from which a good number of subsequent teams of announcers have tried to descend, with success.

While Jim McKay could report live, or record live for later broadcasting, Tesh's announcing was very much scripted during the time differential between actual performance and prime time broadcasting in the US. Tesh was working from a script while he was watching an edited videotape of the events. Broadcast sports news during the day would caution viewers not to watch or turn off their TVs if they wanted to watch the much later prime time broadcast without a spoiler.

If you want to see Jim McKay at his world class professional best, watch his coverage of the 1972 massacre of the Israeli Olympic athletes in Munich, Germany. There are documentaries and video online. Tesh and others could never have done what McKay did that day for the whole world. Few people have matched the depth of his knowledge, his universal credibility, and the respect of the wide world of sports. Tesh couldn't hold a candle to him.

Norman, thanks for the gory details. I will look out for old recordings of Jim McKay on the internet compedia. I have listened to some of the John Tesh compositions and concerts, bland yet soothing stuff for the most part, like Muzak in the elevator, didn't know about his reputation as an announcer.

Meanwhile, NBC tries to defend the cut by claiming that the 7/7 tribute is 'not relevant' to a US audience. That would be like saying that the 9/11 tributes aren't relevant to others in the world.

I think that this confirms that it was cut from the broadcast as retaliation for the lack of 'due respect' to the victims of the 1972 Olympics.

"Musician and composer John Tesh"--my head is about to implode trying to process that one. Brings back memories of Howard Stern poking fun at Tesh. Puerile stuff, but if I had to choose between Stern and the Olympics, I'm afraid I'd go puerile.

This is what I wrote in an email to friends:

"on a serious note I am shocked that at the Olympic Opening ceremony there was no British Asian presence whatsoever (it was barely minimal for this country's largest minority; the Olympic Boroughs are heavily Asian).

Also the only two countries the Commentators dissed were Pakistan (small team for such a large country; they were laughing as they said that) and Bangladesh (no medals)

For Danny Boyle, who promised to showcase the "Best of Britain" and furthermore made his career (probably got the gig) because of SlumDog Millionaire, its a real slap on the face.

the need for creative activism is strong than ever esp as Britons of the Asian variety. I found it hilarious the only real Asian gig was Akram Khan's choreographed dance as a memorial to 07/07, which was ironic on so many levels (Muslims only feature at the Ceremony as an act of atonement and grief).

this isn't only now about Pakistanis or Muslims but rather in dealing with the institutional racism that simply ignores a population that has disproportionately contributed to this country and is barely recognised."

Hi Zachary,
Thanks for weighing in with a "boots on the ground" report from Britain. I am not surprised that Britain forgot(?) to highlight its brown heritage. Yet I see that the fluff touristy pieces around the Olympics showcasing Britain and its history includes its colonial glory. It is about how a nation sees itself. Despite the large South Asian and Caribbean presence in its midst, I am sure officially Britain thinks of itself as a white, protestant European country. Browns and blacks are for the most part seen as guests (or pests), outside the fabric of British society. I am afraid this mindset of narrow majority identity infects many nations. Even for a diverse country like the US, Mitt Romney's spokesperson evoked its "Anglo Saxon" heritage while in Britain.

I did not see the opening ceremony being out to dinner that evening. I just caught a couple of YouTube videos later featuring some of the hightlights including the Queen as the parachuting Bond girl. For me, Romney's political gaffe overshadowed everything else that went on leading to the games. Now, it is about the actual games and that too won't heat up until Track & Field events begin.

Black Britain was very well represented; in fact an entire segment was dedicated to the fledgling romance of two young Black Britons.

I have nothing against the Ceremonies but British Asians have not done themselves any favours. Britain & the Anglosphere do not need to conceptualize immigration as somehow "diluting" the WASP matrix but in fact strengthening it.

In many ways if handled correctly we can welcome this Brave New World instead of fearing it.


What in your opinion might have constituted a good show for British Asians in the opening ceremony? Since Akram Khan's dance wasn't enough of a presence to count. Given the way Slumdog Millionaire was Boyle's concept of an India that is supremely stereotypical, how would he have avoided kitschy depictions of the Asians? Or maybe he did come up with something that was nixed by community leaders?

Considering that the Jewel of the Empire was the Indian Subcontinent; at the very least there could have been a stronger reference to the Desi Presence.

Also for instance the romance between the two Britons could have included an Asian at the very least. That would have at least been subversive as well (interracial romance between black & Asian) and broken some new ground.

This is what somebody else posted:

"Jason • 49 minutes ago
Is this what Britain has turned into , relying on foreign born plastic Brits for glory .Turned the telly off as soon as the Londonistan games started to be honest. Great tactics by the organisers though .to stop terrorist attacks give the muslim extermists jobs in G4S .!

Hey Zach, nice face lift at Brown Pundits! Glad you moved away from the slightly gloomy "brown" look :-)

As for the lack of desis on the London Olympics stage, I would let you comment, having not much knowledge of what actually was celebrated in the opening ceremonies.

I agree that a society does better when it embraces all its diverse colors and flavors. The US has its own problems with identity and race. It is notable though that in Britain, Asians have a greater presence in the public sphere as elected officials etc. unlike the US where they are more concentrated in the academia, medicine and the tech industry. But here too attitudes are changing. Two US states elected governors with desi heritage and both are conservative right wingers to boot. Younger Indians / Pakistanis are making their mark in many more fields than those favored by their parents.

The US athletic field is a decent representation of the diversity of its population. The women's gymnastic team for example has three whites of which one is Jewish, one black and one Asian with Japanese/ Philippino / Puerto Rican / black heritage. A nice rainbow coalition that won a gold!

Identities are tricky. Sometimes it is nationality, sometimes ethnicity and very often it is belief.

Thanks that's an interesting link. Also yes the new look does suit BP I think.

Regarding racial identities in the Olympics, this article on Gabby Douglas' winning the gymnastic golds is quite apropos:

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