Last week, we gave you assorted video clips of three network’s coverage of the 1984 Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles. Today, we’ll explore how NBC covered the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea. What you saw then, pales in how NBC covers the games today.
Boxing had extensive coverage on NBC (something that would never happen today). Swimming was shown live during the Today show.
Trying to piggyback on excellent ratings for ABC four years earlier, NBC tried to use live coverage in mornings, primetime and late night to gain ratings, but because these games began in September, right when the NFL and MLB were in the midst of their coverage, ratings suffered in comparison.
So let’s give you some clips.
Here’s Marv Albert and the Fight Doctor, Ferdie Pacheco having the dubious honor of having to call one of the worst injustices in Olympic history, Roy Jones, Jr. losing to Park Si-Hun in a decision in the light middleweight division. I love Ferdie’s line, “If Roy loses here, there’s something rotten in Korea,” just before Park’s hand was raised (although it’s not in this video).
The late Charlie Jones calling Florence Griffith-Joyner’s triumph in the 200 meters. She also won the 100 pulling a double gold in these Olympic games.
Here’s Charlie calling the women’s 4 x 400 relay in which FloJo anchored and the U.S. finished with the silver.
Charlie calls the men’s 100 meters with Ben Johnson defeating Carl Lewis. Johnson would later be stripped of his gold medal after testing positive for a banned substance. Note that Charlie and partner Frank Shorter don’t speak until the 3:18 mark. And Charlie’s great call of “9! 7! 9!”
This is Charlie calling the men’s 110 meter hurdles. Roger Kingdom of the US took the gold.
You can’t go without a mention of Carl Lewis in these games and this is Charlie Jones and Dwight Stones calling Lewis in his signature event, the long jump.
Continuing with the long jump, here’s Bob Costas interviewing 1968 long jump gold medalist Bob Beamon and a look at Larry Myricks in the event. By the way, Bob was not the primetime host for NBC, Bryant Gumbel was and in 1992, Bob took over as the main host for NBC, a role he carries to this day. Bob was the late night host in 1988.
From gymnastics, this is Team USA’s entrance into the hall.
Here’s the the USA’s Phoebe Mills on the Floor Exercise. Dick Enberg, Bart Connor and Mary Lou Retton were on the call for NBC.
Elena Shushunova of the USSR won the gold medal in the all around gymnastics final. Here’s her floor exercise routine which got a 10.00.
NBC also had extensive coverage of volleyball and this is the USA-Peru women’s match as called by Bob Trumpy and Chris Marlowe.
NBC’s official song for the 1988 Olympics was Whitney Houston’s One Moment in Time and here’s the video as produced by NBC Sports for the end of the Games.
Here are NBC’s closing credits for the Olympics. Part I of II. Bryant Gumbel and Dick Enberg wrap up NBC’s coverage from Seoul. Why this person did not allow embedding is beyond me. The theme used by NBC is “Olympic Spirit” written by John Williams. NBC could not use the familiar “Bugler’s Dream” because ABC used it during the Winter Olympics in Calgary just 7 months before and still had the rights to the song. NBC would get the rights to the now-familiar Olympic theme in 1992 in time for the Barcelona games.
But here is Part II of the closing credits and I can embed this. Ok. Whatever.
That does it for this look at the 1988 Summer Olympics. Next week, we’ll look at the 1992 Summer Games in Barcelona.