Phelps Phatigue

August 18, 2008

I, and probably millions of other Americans trying to watch the Olympics on TV, are suffering from Phelps Phatigue. This is a condition resulting from hearing about his medals seemingly every other minute (and at times every minute) that an NBC station is broadcasting. The presenters at NBC probably aren’t suffering, because they just read off the teleprompters. All the attention has had the effect of feeding the fascination held by the legions (or schools?) of Phelps Phans.

Now I understand for ratings purposes the coverage needs to be a bit jingo, and you need to show stuff that people want to see (beach volleyball mania) and you have to cover what the USA is good at (live b-ball at 8:00 AM, blowout highlights at 11). Now you also need to focus on several personalities because good TV sports coverage is personality driven, or has been for some time. See b-ball above. He is great for NBC’s scheduling. NBC can run endless promos in advance of his events, giving a countdown to the opportunity to witness greatness, in 60 minutes, 30 minutes, 15 minutes. And on cue, he does it. The man wins medals like clockwork. That subphoto finish in the 100 meter butterfly was great TV, and the loser (though he grew up in LA) was <jingo>from a country that we had bombed the shit out of 10 years ago.</jingo> 

I have nothing against Phelps or anybody else involved, and no offense to the Phelps Phans. It’s just that OK he set these records already, and now all the buzz on TV is about the other kind of gold, convertable to US dollars or euros, whatever he prefers. And we ain’t seen nothin’ yet. He’s the biggest thing in the water since Jaws. We will be seeing a lot more of him in the pool sporting Speedos, out of the pool on energy bar wrappers, MP3 player ads and who knows what else. I could think of things he should endorse. For example, with the news reports of his diet, IHOP and Papa John’s would be logical choices. Advertising insiders have been saying that he could make more than $6 million (not Zimbabwean dollars) per gold medal in endorsement deals (as long as he doesn’t endorse Barack Obama).

Believe me, if someone would offer me more than $50 million to hawk products and make a few personal appearances, I would even endorse greasy fast food, hell I’d endorse cell phone companies with bad customer service. I would only insist on a personal masseuse and blue and green Jelly Bellies while on tour. And he is much more deserving of the payday than say hedge fund managers, for whom $50 million would be a tip.

Phelps appears quite likely to compete in 4 years in London as well.

Just In: I just heard on NBC that if Phelps were competing as his own country (The People’s Phandom of Phelps) he would rank 6th in the gold medal count. If his endorsements work out, he could have a higher GDP than several countries too (is this really a joke?).

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