THE BLOG

So, BBC, Are There Any Other Nations Competing in the Olympics?

08/14/2012 02:36 pm ET | Updated Oct 14, 2012

Sitting high above Olympic Park, the stars of BBC's coverage of the Summer Olympics Games had reason to smile. Leadership of the often-stuffy British Broadcasting Company gave the family of UK networks quite a facelift during these Olympics with high-tech graphics, welcoming hosts and slick sets.

Now if they could just do something about the narrow scope of their own Olympics coverage. Watching the BBC during these Olympics has left us under the impression that Great Britain was the only country currently competing in the 2012 Summer Games.

It's not only the flagship television stations that are guilty. Every sector of the English press devoted nearly 100% of its coverage to Team GB, to the detriment of every other story out there.

On BBC, Michael Phelps' historic Olympic landmark earned just a 10-second spot, while Team GB's fifth-place finish in weightlifting stole the spotlight. The splashy Independent newspaper devoted front-page headlines to Andy Murray's dramatic and exciting gold medal tennis victory for Team GB; it gave Serena Williams' similar win about seven column inches, buried deep inside the paper. One of the fastest sprinters in recorded human history, Usain Bolt from Jamaica, only warranted a short video montage and a 45-second interview following his Olympic record-breaking 100-meter gold. Did the U.S. gymnastics team even make it to London? And where is the coverage of some of the most engaging international basketball games -- featuring Spain, France, U.S. and many others -- that the Olympics have ever seen?

"The British media should at least keep an open mind about the other nationalities that live here in the UK," says London resident Phillippa Knowles, 26. "My mother is English and my father is Nigerian and I would like to support both countries, because they are both a part of me. The Olympics is full of different nationalities, and it would be nice to see someone in the media here and there other than Great Britain."

At least Team GB is giving the media some justifiable reason to focus on a handful of British athletes, for this Summer Games indeed has seen an Olympic gold rush rarely seen from athletes from this part of the globe. Team GB is solidly in third place in the gold medal standings, behind only the United States and China.

"We definitely have a home field advantage," says Darren White, 40, as the resident of London suburb Croydon breaks out into a smile. "We never do this well."

Last Saturday night represented one of the greatest nights in British sports history, with six gold medals won by hometown athletes, capped off with a heptathlon victory by Jessica Ennis, considered by Brits as the face of the 2012 Olympic Summer Games.

Even British Prime Minister David Cameron got into the act, tweeting: "Awe inspiring win for Jessica Ennis....Atmosphere electric on #SuperSaturday."

But what about the rest of this Olympic fortnight? Where is the coverage of other nations' athletes on the other 13 days of the Games?

To be fair, we know that our own American media plays to the hometown crowd as well as anyone: NBC famously never misses a chance to show tears flowing from a U.S. athlete as the Star Spangled Banner plays and Old Glory is raised. But at least the multi-platform, multiple-network coverage across the NBC stations also shows us plenty of Japanese divers, Russian synchronized swimmers, Ukrainian boxers and German pole vaulters.

Let's hope that this is all purely an innocent case of nationalistic fever, and that perhaps Team GB media's understandable passion for the home team has persuaded them to focus almost exclusively on their countrymen. And let's hope that future major international sporting events see some change to the coverage, so that the whole of the United Kingdom can enjoy the best performances that the athletes of the world -- the entire world -- have to offer.

Students in Lynn University sports management's "Olympic Games Experience" class, in London for the Summer Games, contributed to this story. Follow Prof. Ted Curtis and Dr. Chad Barr on Twitter at @LynnUSportsMgmt and on Facebook at LynnSportsManagement.