Monday, July 30, 2012

SECOND COMES RIGHT AFTER FIRST: Thank you, NBC sports, for a shot-for-shot remake of the timeless Ryan Lochte 400M IM medal ceremony of two days ago. As there, it was important that during the medal ceremony for the 100M Women's Butterfly I never have my television screen fouled with having to look at either the Chinese silver medalist or the Australian winner of the bronze. The pride those athletes might have had in seeing their own flags raised would have been too much to bear. The Olympic spirit was much better suited by an unchanging close up shot of Dana Vollmer's lovely face.

(Also, Dana Vollmer - Go Bears!)


  1. Marsha8:33 AM

    Those who follow me on Twitter know that I give great thanks to NBC for focusing so closely on Jordyn Wieber's face that I didn't miss a single tear. Thank you for ignoring Aly Raisman so I didn't have to see her scores on her excellent floor routine or foul my TV screen with any analysis of how she prevailed. Thank you for cutting back to an extreme closeup of Wieber's face while Raisman was being interviewed. And, of course, thank you for not troubling my mind with any detailed analysis of what you mean when you say, over and over again, that Wieber was underscored, and, needless to say, thank you for not giving any co mparison of how her scores compare to those of her teammates and the other competitors as to whether she was unjustly scored.

    Thank you, NBC, for making sure I didn't miss a single second of a crying teenager trying to pull herself together so she could do an interview with you, especially to the exclusion of information about the actual event. Always a pleasure.

  2. Wieber's older sister and I were Girl Scouts together, our mothers are good friends and I trained at her gym (profoundly mediocre-ly, and long before her time). I couldn't even watch the broadcast because of the heartbreaking photos plastered on before it aired.

    That being said, congratulations to Aly Raisman and Team USA. Truly astounding depth, strength and class these young women are showing. I promise to only use frivolous parts of the Internet between now and the team finals. I know they'll be a treat and I have no doubt that Jordyn and the rest of the team will shine! 

  3. Christy in Philly11:07 AM

    I'm heart broken for Jordyn and NBC's coverage was crass.

    I'm curious as to how NBC is going to spin this whole 2 athletes per country thing. This is NOT a new rule-- although back when there were 6-7 athletes per team, each country was limited to 3 in the AA. In 1992, the Unified Team basically faked an injury so the girl they wanted to make the all-around could compete-- the athlete who hadn't initially qualified, Tatiana Gutsu, went on to win the AA. The Romanians did the same thing in 1996 when they pulled Alexandra Marinescu so Simona Amonar could compete-- the coach, Octavian Belu said that Amonar worked harder than Marinescu and deserved it more. They didn't even have the decency to fake an injury like the Russians did in 92.

    There will surely be a clips package tonight and/or tomorrow with sappy music, shots of Jordyn crying, etc. I wonder, though, if they will dig out the footage of when this has happened before.

    Bela Karolyi though should not have been so shocked and outraged. (Although, I'm pretty sure that outraged, ecstatic, and abusive are the extent of his emotional range.) It's not a new rule. It just happened to impact the World Champion who happens to be an American.

  4. isaac_spaceman11:36 AM

    I just thank NBC for so aggressively tape-delaying that I knew what happened by the time the broadcast started and could make the completely rational decision to go to bed at 11:00, before any of the drama actually aired. 

    I'm not sure why NBC thinks that Sunday afternoon is a bad time for TV sports and Sunday night after 11:00 is where the key stuff should be shown, but it sure worked out for me last night.  Ha, ha, suck it, advertisers. 

  5. It was so heartless of NBC to focus on Jordyn Wieber as she cried... not just because this was a girl who needed some time to pull herself together, but because it took away from Aly Reisman and Gabby Douglas, who were both interviewed with Wieber in the immediate background.  These are world class athletes - let's give them their time to shine and their time to be disappointed and upset.

    They did the same with the 400 freestyle, after Lochte won - the camera was on Phelps, and he was the first interview they did.  Give the man a moment, and give Lochte HIS moment, please.

    And while we're on the subject of confusing announcing... what is "podium training?"

  6. Marsha11:40 AM

    I keep asking the same thing. Google searching is not turning up a good answer.

    If the announcers are going to talk incessantly, could they at least say something useful?

  7. Gleemonex11:58 AM

    I luckily caught the apparently ONE time they explained that - it's the time the athletes get to work out on the actual equipment at the venue. Potentially important because of different manufacturers, micro-differences in surfaces, tightness, midichlorians, what have you. 

  8. gretchen12:15 PM

    I wish they'd explain why they have that rule.  It seems really dumb to me.  I can see why they'd want to ensure that there were lots of countries represented in the all around, but the "top two" rule seems to mean that we'll see substandard gymnastics in the competition. 

  9. bristlesage12:35 PM

    And the importance of podium training was made clear last night, too.  Kyla Ross, on the Americans' way to the floor, was saying to them, "Remember that corner.  That corner."  And then the one she was pointing out was the one where three Americans stepped out of bounds. 

    Anyway, I'll once again offer my giant spreadsheet of what's on when to anyone who wants me to send a copy (Excel file).  It's useful because it keeps you off the page or other sports-based pages for less chance of spoiling.  It's also good for me because it means I know what NBC's packaging up for primetime, meaning I know what's good to watch during the day on the streams.  (Going right to the Live Extra page helps with the main page news problem; you might just have to scroll down a smidge to cover the runners at the top.)

  10. tortoiseshelly1:03 PM

    I'll take a copy, please. Email me at tortoiseshelly at gmail dot com.

  11. Eric J.1:20 PM

    I'd like one as well, eakawie at gmail dot com.

    Can you put it up as a Google doc and post the link?

  12. Christy in Philly1:31 PM

    I'd love a copy of the spreadsheet cms519 at yahoo. The google docs idea is a great one! Thanks bristelsage.

  13. isaac_spaceman1:34 PM

    They completely explained podium training when they were showing the replacement Chinese man getting ready to go on the high bar.  What, you weren't watching the Chinese men at mid-day on Saturday so that you could get ready for the American women on Sunday at midnight? 

  14. That one shot of Aly Raisman being interviewed with Jordyn Wieber in the background was just unnecessary. Granted, it was a good shot artistically (and would make a good still photo), but geez, the kid is what, 18? 19? She put how many years of time, work and sacrifice into this? Give her a minute to pull herself together. So not cool. 

    I'm really beginning to loathe NBC. I guess it's good that I normally only watch one or two shows on their crummy network.

  15. Why not just make it a GoogleDoc?

  16. bristlesage2:03 PM

    I've put it up as a Google doc, though I kind of hate the format.  But I'm fighting uphill on that.  Anyway, here's the link--I set it so anyone with the link could see it, so feel free to pass it on!

  17. bristlesage2:05 PM

    And so, Adam, I have.  When I was making it, I was having trouble getting GoogleDocs to do what I wanted it to do, but I don't know why I didn't think to upload it after it was done.  Der doy! So easy.

  18. Lou W3:39 PM

    You are awesome!  I so wish I'd had this this weekend.  Thanks so much!  NBC should have a link to this on their website.

  19. Jenn.3:47 PM

    <span>Regarding the two-athletes-per-country rule</span>:  I believe that I previously knew about the rule, but hadn't really focused on the fact that someone in the top 4 of the competition could be barred from the all-around because two teammates were in the top 3.  i assume that the goal is in place to try to ensure that there are more countries are involved in the all-around competition.  But it seems a bit ridiculous to say that someone who ended up that high in the competition would be disqualified, and I don't know that there really was that much benefit.

    If my count is correct, under current rule, gymnasts from 16 countries qualified for the all-around (with four gymnasts being disqualified because they had the third-highest scores on their respective teams).  If there was no such rule, 14 countries would have qualified.  So, two countries managed to eke through a gymnast because of the rule.  I don't really agree that you should disqualify higher ranking gymnasts for that reason, but obviously, there are those who disagree with me.

    But why can't there be a hybrid rule?  One that avoids the harshness of disqualifying someone who was in the top five (or eight or twelve) while also increasing the odds of more countries getting in?  Here, if the top 12 got in automatically, and then the "no third competitor allowed" kicked in for gymnasts who are below the top 12, you'd have gotten a third American (ranked #4) and a third Russian (ranked #12).  And you'd have gotten the same number of countries---16. 

    <span>Regarding the tape-delay and other NBC complaints</span>:  (1) I don't tend to get too upset about the tape-delay issues, because they always happen with the Olympics.  There are marquee events, and the network that paid a lot for the Olympics wants those events on during the evening broadcast.  That said, I am finding it hard this time around to avoid being spoiled.  For one thing, I tend to monitor Google News during the day to make sure that I don't miss some big story that is developing, and have found out at least two big results because of that.  I don't know what to do about that, as avoiding the news for two weeks seems like a bad idea.  (2) I've never liked the fact that the media often forces athletes to answer questions immediately after they've had a crushing disappointment.  (3) Finally, I was annoyed last night that there wasn't more discussion of the scoring as the event was ongoing, and that they couldn't even give us Aly Raisman's floor score.  When watching a sporting event, you should not have to use Google to find out how a participant scored, you know?

  20. She turned 17 three weeks ago.

  21. Jenn.5:28 PM

    Don't know how this matches up to the spreadsheet, but this has been my spoiler-free source of TV scheduling for the Olympics:

  22. isaac_spaceman6:04 PM

    In the women's volleyball (incidentally, the US women are f'ing amazing; Destinee Hooker is an absolute freak of nature) match on Saturday, the scores were routinely wrong.  Now that there's no rally scoring, it's really not that hard.  If the ball hits the floor, somebody has to get a point. 

    Plus, if you drift in and out of the swimming, it would be nice to have something somewhere on the screen that tells you what the race is and how many lengths are left.  There were a few heats last night where I was trying to guess whether it was a 100 or a 400 and whether the leader was about to win or turn. 

    Also:  the other day they showed a clip of the Korean swimmer false-starting in Athens.  The shot was from the opposite side of the pool, so the starting blocks were on the right hand side.  My immediate reaction:  YOUR POOL IS BACKWARD. 

  23. Marsha7:10 PM

    I had a similar reaction to the Korean swimmer footage. It's like when I watch baseball from the bleachers and feel as though I'm watching it backwards.

  24. AndreaJ11:09 PM

    My 9-year-old was perceptive enough last night to notice the USA-centric gymnastics coverage. Upon seeing some of the other gymnasts in the background of a few shots, she asked, "Why aren't they showing any of the gymnasts from other countries?"

  25. Marnie9:17 AM

    I watched gymnastics on NBC's live stream and they barely showed the Americans. The commentary was provided by Shannon Miller and a British man. I assume it was much better than what they put together for Primetime.

    I also watched swimming on live stream and it was Australian coverage. The announcers were excellent and so much better than those who have provided the American coverage. They announced every race, showed the athletes coming out to the pool, explained the favorites, the differences in the lanes, etc.  So I guess the takeaway is: NBC is better off just using other countries coverage as the announcers are much more knowledgeable.

  26. Anonymous10:02 AM

    I agree with your comment on the swimming needing a indicator at least of what the length of the race is.  I tend to watch these of the DVR so I can skip all the commercials and human interest stuff and stop when I see an actual event (hey, it's already delayed). How hard would it be to put a text box with 400M Freestyle down in the corner?

  27. gtv20010:06 AM

    guest was me.  And on the two gymnasts from each country rule, I tend to think about this like those who complain about not making the NCAA tournament.  If you want to compete to be the best, win your prelim (or your conference in the NCAA case).  The gymnastic competion is set up to reward consistent performance.

  28. Could not agree more with the need for more onscreen inforation for swimming events.  I cannot count the number of times I've asked, "is this semi or final? 100 or 200?  who's who?" once the event finally got going.