All the complaining about NBC's track coverage is at best myopic. We're runners. We want to see distance races on the tube. Understandable. Most people are not runners. Therefore, they don't want to see distance races on television. Give them gymnastics, hotties playing volleyball in bikinis, and, while you're at it, throw in another interview with Michael Phelps' mom. They watch for a while, satisfy their Olympic curiosity, ratings soar, and advertisers are happy. Why can't we do the same?
Face it. Distance running, by and large, is simply not a compelling spectator sport. I say this as someone who has been running and racing for approaching two decades. I've run everything from junior high track to countless road races to multiple marathons. Yet even I'm willing to admit that watching a distance race is typically less than enthralling. Say you have a close marathon race tomorrow, one decided by a finising kick on the track. What happened? A bunch of guys ran together for 26 miles, they kicked the last 0.2, and someone did it better. That's it. At the end, it was, as the complaint goes, "just a bunch of guys running." Compare this to basketball, where there's running, jumping, ball handling, dribbling, passing, shooting, rebounding, blocking, and defending. In a distance race? A bunch of guys running. Doesn't really compare.
A comparison: I enjoy reading on a variety of topics. Nothing like engaging the mind in a great story. However, would anyone consider watching someone read to be a spellbinding way to spend a couple of hours? Of course not. Why, then, do distance runners insist that, just because they enjoy running, that watching people run is must-see tv?