By far, though, NBCâ€™s prime-time coverage is the window through which most Americans experience the Games, and that is primarily focused on the medal hunt by American athletes in gymnastics, swimming & diving and track & field.
While many athletes thrive in that environment, Bilesâ€™ decision to pull out of the team and all-around gymnastics competition is the most prominent sign that for some, the pressure takes a toll.Molly Solomon, executive producer of NBCâ€™s Olympics coverage, objects to any characterization of the networkâ€™s philosophy as simply winner takes all.
That put athletes such as Katie Ledecky and Biles in an intense spotlight, and the gymnastâ€™s decision not to compete has likely contributed to the networkâ€™s disappointing ratings thus far.NBCâ€™s Olympics host, Mike Tirico, noted in a commentary that Bilesâ€™ story and the focus on mental health didnâ€™t fit into societyâ€™s desire for instant results and a willingness to criticize athletes who donâ€™t live up to expectations.
Instead, Phelpsâ€™ activism and willingness to talk about his own mental health issues has provided a crucial element to NBCâ€™s Biles coverage.
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