Sigh. The Olympics are over. What the hell do I do now? Actually, the Olympics didn’t dominate my time this year the way they did four years ago. But I had a two-week-old baby then and we just kind of sat on the couch for about 20 hours a day anyway. That year, the Olympics were a God-send. This year, once the girls watched their fill of morning TV, rather than switch to the games, I was trying to get them outside to do something fun and active.
But there is always a moment of sadness when the flame is extinguished and I realize it’s going to be another four years before we get to do this again. So let’s get into some rambling, quasi-insightful thoughts, shall we?
Invade Jamaica now! Come on, McCain. Quit rattling your sword at Russia and focus on the real enemy.
Watching the replays of Usain Bolt’s runs over the weekend, I had two more thoughts about the phenom. First, he’s so ridiculously big, it looks like a man running against kids, or a robot running against humans. Or, more likely, it looked like a video game where you can control who is in the race, taking people who would never run against each other and putting them in the same race for comic effect. Second, I wonder how many of the guys he blew away had ever trailed by that much in a race before. Chances are a lot of them rarely lost a race growing up, and once they became pros, they probably only lost races by a matter of inches. I’m pretty sure none of his competitors in the finals of the 100 & 200 had ever been ten meters behind an opponent. What does that do to your confidence?
So now the question is how does he impact the sport. I had always heard that really tall people can’t run sprints because the biomechanics of the run are too difficult once you get past 6’2” or so. Is he literally a freak, and you can’t just start plugging 6’5” guys into the sprints and wait for records to fall? Or, after watching him, is it realistic for coaches to take a second look at guys who are taller than the historical ideal for sprinters?
So NBC kind of sucked last week, especially over the final few days of the games. Friday night might have been the worst night of coverage in the history of the games. With fewer events going on, they really had to pad things in primetime. Which made it triply maddening that they were showing many events on a 12-hour delay. Do we really have to wait until 10:30 Eastern to watch the men’s 400m final when no other big events are going on and we’ve known the result for 15 hours?
I know NBC can’t win. If they do show everything live, that cuts into their ad rates in primetime. Even if they can boost their daytime ad rates, and then get more than an average night for a primetime review of the day’s events, I’m guessing that comes up short of what they were charging for primetime ad spots last week. But in a world of constantly updated sports and news websites, YouTube clips from other countries, and satellite coverage from the CBC, these long delays seem silly. There has to be a better way.
There are rumors floating around that ESPN may bid for the next set of broadcasting rights, which would cover the 2014 winter and 2016 summer games. As much as I loathe the ESPN marketing machine and its merry band of self-important, self-promoting blowhards, you know they would turn their family of networks over to the games. We’d probably see just about every event live and then again on tape delay if the games’ location warranted. They’d still find a way to screw things up, mostly by slapping their label all over the games (like how the NBA Finals this year were always listed under “ESPN” rather than “NBA” on their ticker), but I think the raw coverage would be better than NBC has done.
Why was Ato Boldin doing track coverage for NBC and Michael Johnson for the BBC? Did Johnson’s managerial relationship with Jeremy Wariner keep NBC from bringing him in? Not that Boldin was bad, but just odd that one of the greatest American sprinters ever was working for a British network, and the American network was using a Caribbean native.
So the bar is high for new shows NBC promotes during the games, at least for me. They pushed <a href=”http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0247091/”>Ed</a> really hard during the 2000 games, and once they shifted it from Sundays to Wednesdays and I started watching, it became my favorite show. But of this year’s batch of shows, the <a href=”http://www.nbc.com/Kath_and_Kim/”>Molly Shannon</a> show is the only one that holds much intrigue for me. The new <a href=”http://www.nbc.com/Knight_Rider/”>Knight Rider</a> is a Mustang? Something ain’t right. New Camaros are right around the corner, just plug one of those into the old T.A. slot. I might give the show a shot, because I’m a child of the 80s and there’s a small part of me that still wishes it was 1983.
There was a lot of talk about the U.S.’ failure in track and field. I’m not going to point fingers at other teams, but it is interesting that this “subpar” performance came after U.S. track & field dealt with some serious drug issues following the last Olympics. Might the U.S. have been the cleanest team of the elites this year? Still, hold on to a few dropped batons, have a few other people perform to their expectations, and things would have been about normal. No team that lacked Bolt was going to dominate this year.
Proof that whoever runs track and field at the international / Olympic level is a bunch of idiots: scheduling events so women could not run both the 200 and 400 this year. Anything that kept Allyson Felix from getting more track time is a bad, bad thing. Along those lines, the U.S. women’s 4×400 team was pretty foxy.
Beyond Phelps and Bolt, I think the U.S. men’s indoor volleyball team was the story of the games. They could have easily packed it up and gone home after the stabbing that took the life of the coach’s father-in-law and left his mother-in-law injured. Instead, <a href=”http://sports.yahoo.com/olympics/beijing/volleyball/news;_ylt=ArIXOnEhrEQltPtRy0.J0KiVTZd4?slug=ap-vol-us-brazil&prov=ap&type=lgns”>they went out and got the Gold</a>.
How much do you think Beckham got to fly to Beijing, wear a track suit, and kick a ball half-heartedly?
And now, some links I’ve collected this week.
Yahoo’s Dan Wetzel <a href=”http://sports.yahoo.com/olympics/beijing/track_field/news?slug=dw-rogge082108&prov=yhoo&type=lgns”>rightly rips IOC chairman Jacques Rogge</a> for his criticism of Usain Bolt while remaining silent about some real issues surrounding the games. I wonder if Rogge made similar comments about the white, British runner who shook his baton at fellow competitors in a 4×400 heat.
There’s been a lot of discussion about what the proper medal count is: all medals or golds only. I always assumed you counted all medals, since that seemed to follow the Olympic ideal and, you know, they do give out silver and bronzes. I guess that’s just a U.S. thing. <a href=”http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/em/fr/-/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/7576446.stm”>Here are five ways</a> to look at who won what (this came before the final medal count).
Interesting look at <a href=”http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/25/sports/olympics/25nbc.html?em”>how NBC got the schedule tweaked</a> for swimming and gymnastics.
How fast can Usain, or anyone else, go?
And that completes our Olympic coverage. See you in London.