NBC Boxing Announcers Asked To Leave Ringside; Sport's Ratings Down On CNBC
NBC Sports broadcasted the final two days of the Olympic boxing tournament "without announcers Bob Papa and Teddy Atlas in the arena following a dispute with international boxing officials," according to David Bauder of the AP. AIBA PR & Communications Dir Sebastien Gillot said that the Int'l Boxing Association "asked Papa and Atlas to move from their seats close to ringside to a broadcast booth farther away because they were 'very disturbing' to boxing officials, even during bouts they were not calling." It is "not clear why Papa and Atlas, who have at times been critical of the boxing judges and referees during the tournament, were suddenly judged too disturbing with only two days of boxing remaining." The NBC announcers called the remaining 10 boxing matches "off video piped into the International Broadcast Center in London." NBC's Russ Thaler did remain "in the ExCel center in London for the concluding fights." Bauder noted Papa and Atlas "have been critical of how international boxing rules, including the requirement of headgear for boxers and a point system based strictly on how many punches land, have turned the Olympic matches into 'fencing with gloves'" (AP, 8/10).
COMING UP EMPTY HANDED: The AP's Tim Reynolds noted the USOC is "so disappointed by its medal-less men's boxing team that it will make changes to the sport's national governing body." USOC CEO Scott Blackmun "offered no specifics Saturday, although it's clear far more is expected from U.S. fighters, who left the Olympics empty handed for the first time in team history." Blackmun said, "We're disappointed in boxing. We want to do better, particularly in men's boxing. By saying disappointed in boxing, I don't mean the people. I mean, we're disappointed that we didn't do better in boxing, because I know that we can do better and we have to focus on how we do that" (AP, 8/11). In San Antonio, John Whisler wrote since '76, when "American boxers won five gold medal in Montreal, the U.S. program has slowly faded into oblivion." American men "won their first four bouts on the opening weekend in London, but never again left the ring with their arms raised" (SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, 8/12). In Boston, Ron Borges wrote USA Boxing "has long been a joke." Now it "has become a laughingstock as well." Former USA Boxing BOD member Al Valenti said, "The performance in London only reflects how poorly managed the organization has been the past four years. They've been unsuccessful hiring executive directors, national coaches or recognizing talent that can compete at the international level. We're broken at the top" (BOSTON HERALD, 8/12).
BOXED OUT: The AP's Bauder notes NBC Sports confined its boxing coverage to CNBC, and if fans "don't actively seek it out, you won't see a punch thrown." In a year where Olympic ratings "were up from four years ago across the board, they were down on CNBC." Papa said that the "poor performance of the U.S. team no doubt stifled viewership, and its officials need to take a hard look at how they're doing things." Even if there "were strong American contenders, the sport is becoming hard to watch." Papa "partly blames decisions to require boxers to wear headgear and score bouts via a computerized count of punches thrown for the sport's downfall." He said that computerized scoring, and "corrupt officials, has led to miscarriages of justice in the boxing result." Papa said that "given what is going on with the sport, he can't rightly complain about its lower profile as a TV property in the Olympics" (AP, 8/13).