Mired in a hotel room in Philadelphia over the weekend, I had the opportunity to be an Olympic Games couch potato.
From the elaborate, somewhat strange opening ceremony to watching water polo, table tennis, rowing and a sport I could not even identify where women with sticks tried to push and contact a ball forward toward a net (not Lacrosse), I checked it all out. I reached some absolute conclusions in the process. Here are my Top 10:
1) Who in the world came up with the idiotic concept of just two gymnasts from each country qualifying for the all-round final? This is the all-around champion, allegedly the best all-around gymnast in the world, allegedly the top 24 gymnasts in the world. American Jordyn Wieber is out of the all-around final despite being the reigning world champion and clearly one of the top five gymnasts in the competition. Why penalize a gymnast solely based on the fact that her country excels in a sport? What a stupid rule!
2) What in the world are Olympic Boxing judges watching? I watched numerous bouts where the scoring was an absolute joke. NBC replays showed clearly landed punches which were never counted in the scoring. The technology provides round-by-round scoring to wisely keep viewers up to date.
In one bout, one fighter landed six clean punches in less than 10 seconds of a three minute round. Instant replay confirmed this. Why don't the judges have access to this replay? If they cannot see the shots initially, this would solve the problem. Get it right. The fighter was given credit for two punches landed in the entire round. Aside from the six which were obvious, he landed others. Oh, by the way, he lost the fight. Incidentally, American men won their first four bouts.
3) While Michael Phelps commands enormous attention and deservedly so, he is not the best or most accomplished story of the U.S. Olympic Team in 2012. While Phelps will undoubtedly become the most decorated athlete in Olympic Games history in terms of the most medals ever won by a competitor, Kimberly Rhode of the U.S. deserves much more attention.
Rhode won the gold medal in Women's Skeet Shooting Sunday. In doing so, Rhode became the first American woman in an individual sport to win a medal in five different Olympic Games competition. Only basketball player Teresa Edwards was part of five medals for the U.S. previously. Amazingly, Rhode set a record, hitting her target 99 of 100 times. Rhode is not done. She is already planning to compete in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
4) Have you found all of the channels that Olympic competition can be located on? I have a new appreciation for badminton and fencing. If you are uncertain of where to find events, check out Bravo, Telemundo, NBC Sports Network, MSNBC and CNBC, along with the mother ship, NBC (WDSU locally).
5) Whether you know the results or not, you will see swimming, diving, gymnastics and track-and-field in prime time. It is all about money. These are the sports that NBC knows will generate viewers to offset their massive investment. It is all about women. My wife and daughter are interested in all of these sports. They have no interest in basketball, soccer, boxing, wrestling, weightlifting or beach volleyball.
6) If the shoe fits....In this case, the name fits. Hope Solo. It was not too long ago that Solo was dismissed from the U.S. World Cup team for criticizing her coach and a teammate, hardly a team player. Despite the appearance of it being an innocent incident, an honest mistake, Solo tested positive for a banned substance prior to the Olympics. She received a warning and was allowed to participate in the Games. Then, she took to twitter to blast American soccer hero and advocate Brandi Chastain, an NBC commentator, for honest, accurate remarks made about the U.S. team of which Solo is member.
Chastain did not make personal attacks. She simply inferred that an American defender had to improve her play and technique. Solo did make a personal attack, blasting Chastain and ridiculing her knowledge of the game. Really? Chastain helped make U.S. women's soccer an entity in this country. Solo was a diva on Dancing With the Stars. She is a diva on the field. She has rabbit ears. Does she really feel we care about her opinions? Solo is a great goalkeeper, easily the best the U.S. has, if not the world. She needs to simply do her job, keep the ball out of the net and keep her mouth shut. She is part of a team sport, not a solo act.
As Aretha Franklin says, all we need here is a little respect. Message to Solo--if you want to receive respect, you might want to give some. We appreciate you and your brilliance on the field. You might want to appreciate others.
7) Speaking of soccer, how about the disgusting act of Columbian Lady Andrade? She was no lady, sucker punching American star Amy Wambach in the first half of a match Sunday, giving Wambach a black eye. Wambach gave Columbia a black eye, scoring a goal in a 3-0 win. Amazingly, no official saw it. No card was given, much less an ejection. FIFA and the IOC are said to be reviewing the incident. By the way, Wambach claims that Andrade tried to punch her again in the second half but missed.
8) Can anyone really understand what Bela Karolyi is saying? Just saying.....He is a brilliant coach and no doubt a good analyst. I just wish I could decipher what his message is.
9) Are you enjoying the U.S. Men's Basketball Team? They are talented and fun to watch while winning on pure ability. It was good to see Anthony Davis get into the game against France. For the record, he scored three points with a block and a rebound. By the way, are you equally excited about the U.S. Women's Basketball team?
10) Talk about bad sports....Spain is considered the top-of-the-heap in world soccer right now at all levels. That is certainly not manifesting itself at the Olympic Games. Spain will not advance after inexplicably losing its second straight match to unheralded and out manned Honduras. In the process, players drew cards all over the place, took cheap shots at Honduran players, bumped officials and generally made fools of themselves in the process. Granted, there was a blatant missed call in the box that could have resulting in a game-tying goal late but that is no reason for the display of poor sportsmanship that ensued.
**NBC paid $1.18 billion for the rights to televise this year's Summer Games. In 2011, NBC agreed to a $4.38 billion contract with the International Olympic Committee for the broadcast rights to the 2014, 2016, 2018 and 2020 Olympics, the most expensive television rights deal in Olympic history. They have the right to show the product any way they wish. The spoiler alerts are everywhere. If you do not wish to find out if Phelps won or lost, if Wieber is out of the all-around competition, if Usain Bolt is brilliant again, do not go online.
We live in an Internet age. That is the primary reason that SportsNola.com exists, to provide consistent, updated sports news and commentary on a 24/7/365 basis. Many continue to bemoan the transition of the Times-Picayune from a daily newspaper to a primarily online platform. I like the newspaper as much as anyone. It is well behind the cycle, behind the 24/7/365 curve. The transition is logical. It is not without pain for the consumer.
NBC has doubled its online viewership for live events of this year's Olympic Games. It is now an enormous audience. Hard core fans who want to see the gymnastics, swimming and track-and-field competition live will do so at www.NBCOlympics.com. Smartphone users can watch live as well.
Progress is painful. That is particularly true as we grow older. For better or for worse, depending on your viewpoint, NBC understands progress and the bottom line. The five-hour time differential between London and the United States makes live television of many top events problematic. Accepting the reality of the situation is our problem, one we must solve by abstaining from watching ESPN, taking to twitter or going online to check out updated results to watch big events tape-delayed in prime time or by simply watching live online and resisting the urge to tell others who do not want to know.
Whether we agree or disagree vehemently on how NBC is choosing to present the Olympics to us, it is hard to argue with success. The network scored 40.7 million viewers for its opening ceremony presentation in prime-time Friday night, a new record, up 17 percent compared to the Beijing Olympics opening weekend of 2008. On Saturday night in prime time, the network gathered 28.7 million viewers, a new record for the first night of athletic competition at the Summer Olympics. The network doubled its online viewers watching live events compared to Beijing's opening weekend. They know what they are doing.
Conclusion: If you want live, go online. Welcome to the 21st Century!
Meanwhile, everyone will take to criticizing NBC for the choices they make. Everyone has a blog, Facebook, texting capability, a twitter account or a traditional media platform. I do not like everything that NBC is doing but I get it. Welcome to the Internet age where everything becomes a controversy, much like Olympic judging.
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