In a move proving that the Olympics aren't just a regular run-of-the-mill sporting event, NBC has announced that tennis superstar Maria Sharapova will be "a correspondent offering insight and commentary" on Russia. As you're aware by now, the 2014 Winter Olympics will be held in Sochi, the birthplace of Maria Sharapova.
Now granted, Maria has been living in the United States since 1994, but she remains a Russian citizen having carried the flag for Russia at the 2012 London Olympics. Is she uniquely qualified to discuss Sochi when she's been living in the U.S. for all this time? NBC Olympics Executive Producer Jim Bell thinks so: "Maria will offer a unique and personal perspective on a place she knows so well.” Really? She left Sochi when she was six years old! Unless she's been visiting Sochi every year since she's left, does that give her a unique perspective?
This will be the first network television gig for Sharapova. There's no doubt that Sharapova is telegenic, but will she be able to offer compelling insights on the Olympics and Russia? That remains to be seen.
If NBC's past Olympics are any indication, we should not expect any heavy lifting or exposés of corruption during these segments. Expect plenty of human interest stories featuring well known athletes that will speak to the primetime audience that always watches in droves. This should be quite interesting to see how the Peacock employs Sharapova during the 17 Days of Glory.