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Olympia Coverage on NBC: A Step in the Right Direction

Joe Pietaro

Joe Pietaro Contributer
May 30, 2014
by Joe Pietaro

Beggars cannot be choosers, so the fact that the Olympia coverage on the NBC Sports Network will be a month after the event is held is not a letdown. Just having the national television channel putting professional bodybuilding on its calendar is the important factor. After decades of being totally ignored by the small- and big – screen, bodybuilding is slowly getting back o the map.

In 2012, filmmaker Patrick Rivera from Trick Entertainment released “Evolution of Bodybuilding: The Movie,” a documentary about the Iron Game and how the industry has changed over the past 50 years. A year later, “Generation Iron” hit mainstream movie theaters (earning $850,000) and chronicled the events leading up to and including the 2012 Mr. Olympia contest and was narrated by Mickey Rourke.

Now we have not one, but two 90-minute specials being aired by NBCSN on October 18 at 1:30 PM EST and October 25 at 5:30 PM EST covering not only the 50th Mr. Olympia contest, but also how the sport has changed since the inaugural O back in 1965 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the entire four-day exposition this year in Las Vegas and all of the other divisions for men and women that will be held.

”The partnership brings the Mr. Olympia back to TV for the first time since 1984 when Lee Haney won his first of eight titles. We look forward to bringing the bodybuilding world’s most prestigious event back to television for its 50th annual contest,” said Lou Ferrer, Director, Programming Acquisitions, NBC Sports Group in a press release.

“It is a great opportunity to have this year’s Olympia Weekend broadcast on NBCSN, exposing the sport to an even broader audience who will see what bodybuilding and fitness are all about and getting an up-close view of the larger-than-life personalities,” said Jim Manion IFBB Professional League President in the same release. “Not only will this help raise the sport to new heights by showcasing the hard work and passion of today’s superstars like reigning and three-time Mr. Olympia Phil Heath, number one challenger Kai Greene, Dennis Wolf, and Shawn Rhoden, it may even inspire a future Mr. Olympia.”

One of the more controversial moments in Olympia history has ties to bodybuilding’s national television coverage. Back in 1980, then-six-time Olympia winner Arnold Schwarzenegger was present in Sydney, Australia to be the color commentator on the CBS television broadcast of the show. The Austrian Oak had been retired for five years and was training for an upcoming film role in the “Conan” series. The day before the contest, Schwarzenegger announced that he would in fact compete, which he had the right to do so being a former winner of bodybuilding’s highest honor.

The other competitors were not happy about this and the feeling intensified when Schwarzenegger was named the winner of the show. Many critics still claim that this was an unjust decision, as he was not in top condition like many of the others, amongst them three-time winner Frank Zane, who still harbors resentment to this day that he was denied a fourth consecutive title.

The aforementioned Zane and Bill Macatee were the commentators in New York City on NBC the last time that the Olympia was televised and it is only fitting that ‘The Peacock Network’ will be hosting its return.


Super Moderator
Apr 10, 2014
It's too bad this never happened. I wish we could he watched the Olympia on tv.

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