Wednesday, August 1, 2012

WHILE BALTIMORE OBSERVES AN OLYMPIC TRUCE: McKayla Maroney vaulting in super slo-mo. A badminton scandal and a 25-23 third set in men's tennis. Michael Phelps wins gold again at the ancient age of 27 (and whether he screwed up on the 200 fly), and the Fab Five is fab indeed. What more do you want -- a headline as wonderfully ethnocentric as my Ha'aretz favorite from 2008?

added more: Mayor Boris Johnson gets stuck on a zip line, and we have the video.

added: More badminton scandal coverage, as SI properly asks whether this is any different than what NBA teams do every year in trying to land a more favorable playoff draw, with an eye towards whether Olympic men's basketball teams will be doing the same thing to avoid the USA team for as long as possible.


  1. Watts8:38 AM

    All the points in the world to Deadspin for using a Magnetic Fields song.

  2. Will K9:13 AM

    The olympic coverage on this site has been great! I am curious about the fencing controversy from the other day. I am fascinated by the fact that an appealing team must put up a cash bond for an appeal. How much is the bond? If they lose the appeal is the bond forfeited? Who holds onto the cash? Someone here must know.

  3. Fred App9:31 AM

    Don't forget Tony Parker beating Manu Ginobili, and the South Korean fencer getting a consolation "good sport" medal from the fencing federation.

    The badminton scandal is the big talk in the Main Press Center today, followed by the question of whether Michael Phelps should be considered the greatest Olympian ever (Sebastian Coe, for one, doesn't think so). Personally, I think it's a made-up question, because I don't see how you can compare people in different sports, but I guess it makes for good conversation.

  4. Slate knows: "<span>The International Fencing Federation (FIE) </span>requires<span>that “every appeal must be accompanied by the deposit of a guaranty of US $80, or its equivalent in another currency; this sum may be confiscated for the benefit of the FIE if the appeal is rejected on the grounds that it is ‘frivolous’; this decision will be taken by the juridical authority responsible for hearing the appeal.” The </span>International Boxing Association<span> charges $500 for a protest (“an administrative fee of US $100 will be deducted from this amount and the remaining amount will be refunded if the protest is upheld. If the protest is rejected, the entire fee will not be returned to the protester.”) The International Handball Federation </span>requires a deposit<span> of 500 Swiss francs (around $511). If you’re cash poor, you should go out for taekwondo: The </span>World Taekwondo Federation says<span> you can appeal a decision without having to put any money down...."</span>

  5. The best decathlete still one wins one medal per Olympiad.  I think it's a made-up question, but the answer is Carl Lewis given the breadth of his accomplishments across both time and discipline.  (Put another way: it's harder for a sprinter to be a great long jumper than a freestyle swimmer to also excel at the fly, right?)

    Actually, now that I look, we had this discussion in 2008 and I said the same thing.

  6. Dave S10:25 AM

    Was anybody else upset that NBC didn't bother to show Aly Raisman's final score on floor when it was announced?   Yeah, I know Team USA won and all, great, but I'm still curious about the scores of individual gymnists on individual events.  Even online I haven't found what her start value was.

  7. Marsha10:40 AM

    Yes. Yes yes yes. NBC's coverage has been all about drama and not even remotely about sport. Making me crazy. 

    Five girls were lined up holding hands and staring at a scoreboard waiting for a result for over a minute. For less than 3 seconds, the camera showed that scoreboard, and for the rest of the time, they locked on the girls' faces. Meanwhile, immediately under the scoreboard was a screen showing the girls' faces. NBC could have shown us both the moment of reaction AND the scoreboard, but didn't. If this stuff were live, it's easy to understand why sometimes they focus on the wrong things, but with all those hours of delay, how hard is it to actually give some decent sports commentary and analysis?

  8. Sheila11:14 AM

    I also noticed the end of the 4x200 relay that while first and second were clear, it was going to be tight for third. But did I get to see that finish? Did the announcer even mention who came in third? Of course not, because instead we had to cut away to a closeup of Phelps' face. Given that it wasn't even close and therefore the reaction shots were not super exciting, it made no sense to me at all.

  9. Isaac spaceman mobile11:14 AM

    I don't think the 100/long-jump double is weird. Maybe on the Olympic stage it is, and maybe it's more so now, but my recollection is that during Lewis's era it was common in college. If you think of it as a sprinter adding a jump, it seems weird, but if you think of it as a long-jumper adding a race that builds on one of the necessary components of the long jump, it makes all the sense in the world.

    Wasn't there someone in the last winter games who had also been a swimmer in the summer games six years earlier? That is weird.

  10. Isaac spaceman mobile11:20 AM

    Also, you can't give Lewis credit for the 100 in Seoul. Either he got smoked in the race we all watched live or he was the second of two cheaters, both in running and in getting caught.

  11. The Pathetic Earthling11:25 AM

    There are quite a few folks who have done both cycling and speed skating, which makes some sense.

  12. Isaac spaceman mobile11:26 AM

    NBC is just observing the rules as dictated by one of its most prominent comedy stars: "third prize is you're fired."

  13. Long jump runway length is 40-45 meters; also, it's a different stride, isn't it?  And Lewis didn't test positive in Seoul; it was earlier IIRC.

  14. isaac_spaceman12:15 PM

    I'm pretty sure he tested positive later, when they refined the tests for masking agents.  No matter how you feel about steroids or the prevalence of steroids, you should be pretty wary of the "I didn't start taking steroids until later" defense.  Yeah, right. 

    The start and finish obviously are different between the 100 and the long jump, but I don't think there's a difference in how you run the middle part.  If there is, it's certainly not as different as fly vs. free or any of the other strokes in swimming.  I may be mistaken about this, but I think most long jumpers don't run the runway upside-down.   

  15. gretchen12:52 PM

    Totally agree.  I also noticed that NBC never provided a scoreboard throughout the gymnastics events.  When Aly Raisman took the floor, they said briefly that she needed a score of, I think, 10.something to secure gold, but clearly omitted more detailed explanation because anyone with half a brain would have seen that there wasn't really any tension in her floor exercise.  She was clearly going to get that required score and they were clearly going to win gold.  But making that clear would have spoiled the exquisite dramatic tension of the five girls staring at the scoreboard.  So annoying. 

    I also have been really disappointed with the commentary on the actual elements.  When gymnasts get deductions, shouldn't the commentators explain why?  Or use helpful little replays to identify the deductions?  In ice skating, NBC does a good job of defining elements and explaining why certain jumps are downgraded.  In gymnastics, I feel like they don't explain anything. 

  16. gretchen1:03 PM

    I want some sort of an All Event competition, where the athletes run, jump, swim, throw stuff, ride a bike, play table tennis, do a tumbling pass, and then play some one-on-one basketball.  Whoever wins that competition is definitely the World's Greatest Olympian. 

  17. Jenn.1:23 PM

    Yep.  It's amazing that they've done that twice---during the prelims and during the team finals.  If they do it during the floor finals, NBC will have completed the trifecta.

  18. bella wilfer1:25 PM

    I think the real issue is that a score of 10.whatever (in the new gymnastics scoring system) is incredibly easy to get so there was indeed no tension in her exercise.  She would have had to massively screwed up to not get that score.  For some reason I recall seeing she got a 15.something but I was also watching at 2am and may have been delirious.

    Can we get some love for the fact that her routine is to Hava Nagila?  Awesome.

  19. Ratphooey1:35 PM

    For the record, Aly Raisman got a 15.300 on her floor routine.

  20. Heather K1:47 PM

    Good long jumpers need good speed to get good distance.  Since Lewis certain aspects of the run/stride have been refined to be more efficient at creating distance, but a good long jumper has to go fast, so really it is about a sprinter learning the jump technique.  Less common now because of specialization.  And I mean less common in the Olympics.  You watch NCAA track and field and lots of athletes cross compete, but at the top elite level you usually focus more on one than the other.  Also true in the throws.  My sister was a SEC thrower in the early 00's who threw all five disciplines but excelled in the shot and the weight and was good enough in the jav (from high school experience) to place well in SEC meets where lots of kids first threw it in college.  Those two throws are not the same at all.

  21. Postmodern Pentathlon.

  22. Jenn.4:39 PM

    I have a serious issue with having to use Google to find out scores for a sporting event that I am presently watching.  Isn't showing the scores the bare minimum of what you should be able to expect here? 

    I think that there's lots to complain about with the gymnastics coverage, including the failure to explain what the different deductions might be, etc.  But when you're talking about coverage that doesn't even tell you scores, well, it seems like the other failures should be expected.  In addition to their failure to tell us the final scores (including Raisman's floor score, or the team totals), we rarely got updates on total team scores through the entire night; we were never really told how the scores we were seeing from given athletes compared to other participants from apparatus to apparatus; there was no explanation as to how team scores here compared to other events (say, last year's worlds, where it turns out that our team score (was substantially lower); and there was no explanation as to how the individual scores compared to any individual's past history. 

  23. Squid5:40 PM

    That's because they're not covering an event -- they're telling a story.

    (They stole the idea from the News Division, alas.)

  24. Joseph J. Finn7:26 PM

    I just imagine David Hill watching the NBC coverage and SCREAMING at the screen about how piss-poor the coverage is in showing scores and the basic progress of the event.

  25. J. Bowman7:32 PM

    Telling it poorly, one might add. I had to turn it off in the middle of that treacly bit about how Jordyn Wieber's "spirit is stronger than most."
    Fortunately, Netflix was showing a replay of last summer's 4x100 Meth Cook competition. That bald dude from Albuquerque is pretty talented, even if he is a yutz.

  26. In addition to some nice gifs, this article has a good explanation on scoring:

  27. Well, I can understand how they'd miss posting the scores or give updates of other teams because they're doing all of it live and its easy to -- oh wait. No, they had 8 hours to get good tape together? Um, no excuse.