Wednesday, October 20, 2010

An open letter to Universal Sports

Dear Universal Sports,

Precious. Please--sit down. We need to talk.

Would you like a Coke? Or Pepsi? Can I get you a tampon? Who's sponsoring this one? I'll make that product placement happen. Anything to get you to sit and quietly listen for a moment.

Today was the WAG team final of the World Championships in Rotterdam. I'm sure you're vaguely aware of this, right? Remember? You charged $14.99 to let us watch it, despite your previously free coverage?

It was a terrific meet. There were high-flying skills. There were falls. There were beautifully stuck landings. There was buffering...buffering...buffering...

What's that? Buffering? Didn't things stop "buffering" around 2006? I don't remember "buffering" when I was watching your free coverage a year ago. Or last March during the American Cup. Or during Classic in July. Thinking back...nope, definitely no "buffering."

And come on, Uni. Can I call you Uni? Seriously, Uni--buffering during the RUSSIANS' BARS ROUTINES? You BUFFERED while Tatiana Nabieva was throwing a toe-on laid out Tkatchev? Do you hate us?

I have serious suspicions that the pause in the rhythm of your coverage actually caused her fall. After all, she froze mid-flight on my computer screen--no way she could have come back from that.

So buffering. In 2010. Seriously.

On top of that, let's discuss the major dearth of routines being shown throughout. I understand that there were scoring issues. But dude--Uni--I don't remember ever having to sit and watch so much pacing and jacket-putting-on in my life. I hear floor music in the background, but all I see is Huang Qiushang biting her hangnail. What were the judges waiting on--your stream to catch up?

Not cool, bro. Not cool at all.

In conclusion, Uni, you dropped the ball. And not the rhythmic kind, either. My guess is that if it were the rhythmic kind, you'd freeze it midair and wait for the gymnast to lose patience and walk off the floor before dropping it in a fit of passionate buffering. You owe the viewers an apology, because after suckering us in to forking over our hard earned money for coverage that you used to offer for free, your coverage SUCKED. It SUCKED ASS.

In a minute, I'm going to hit "publish post," and this letter will forever have a home in cyberspace. It will travel there without delay, without "buffering"...because that's what the internet can do in the year 2010.

Disappointed and broke,



  1. It's very interesting that I've heard several people had buffering problems. I had no problems...

  2. Rick at gymnasticscoaching posted a link to a JustInTV video stream that was working pretty well (and free!) and showing more routines than it seemed Universal Sports deigned to show. Maybe next time you could set up two screens to view both? (Slash, maybe next time, Universal Sports won't suck so much?)

  3. I would definitely write Universal Sports a letter of complaint and see if you can get a refund.

    Although, not to jump to their undeserved defence, but I suspect they had no control over the choice of routines shown. The Uni coverage sounds like the same video coverage we in the UK got from the BBC and I know the beeb was getting its video from the Dutch. (Of course, this could lead into a rant of: HEY, you're charging people for your coverage and you don't even have your own cameras there?)

  4. Yes, possibly. I mean I didn't have any buffering issues, but good lord, after listening to the British commentator I promise to never ever whine about Al Trautwig again. And, why did we see more of rumpled looking Chinese fans waving flags in the stands than actual routines? Was the director also the owner of a Panda Garden restaurant?