I only realized this might be a uniquely Canadian approach after sitting through a two weeks of NBC's Olympic coverage. It struck me that they talk almost exclusively about American athletes and in particular, those who win medals.
To be fair there was some coverage of non-American athletes. Usain Bolt (a legend in his own words) and Oscar Pistorius (the South African who runs with two prosthetic legs) did receive considerable airtime. While both are impressive in their own ways, doesn't profiling world's fastest man and a guy without legs seem kind of, like, obvious? Well done NBC for getting the low hanging fruit.
The games of full of athletes with incredible stories. People who have found their way to the competition in spite of injury, financial hardship, and political oppression. Tell us about them NBC! Help us see the world for a few minutes from other points of view.
My distaste for the whole "America is the best" shtick isn't just about being annoyed by two weeks of self congratulatory programming. Only exposed to winners, viewers miss some of the messiness of athletic competition: the false starts, disqualifications, and utter heartbreak that comes from not performing your best. I think the public is actually harmed by this sanitized version of sport (and by extension life). They make it easy to forget that failure happens all the time, and at the highest levels and gives the impression somehow that Americans are immune.
But maybe the only people who want to talk about American failure are me and Obama.
And I should add--none of this stopped me from tuning in every. single. night.