Archive for the 'NBC' Category

Final Thoughts on Swimming and Trials

The Olympic Trials in the United States’ two most successful sports are complete, and the week was full of fantastic moments. There are few smiles like those of someone who has just become an Olympian, and fans saw dozens of those this week. I won’t lie – more than a few tears trickled down my cheeks when watching the trials. A few disparate thoughts before I go to bed:

– Tyson Gay’s fall in the semis of the 200m broke my heart. First, the manner in which he fell reminded me of when I fell running (very short, very terrible dalliance into the sport) and dislocated my knee (why I stopped.) I was very happy to hear it was not that serious. Secondly, I hate that he won’t be running the 200 for the US. However, I do not think that the misfortune of one man is a reason to change an entire system that quite frankly, works just fine. There are two reasons why the trials for track work. One – the United States is loaded. We have tons of talent. Secondly, track (and swimming for that matter) is an objective sport – who is the fastest. No judges, no degree of difficulty, no petitions or lawsuits. If you run the fastest, you’re in. I have no worries for the United States in track and field. We will do just fine, even with Tyson Gay only running 100m.

– Dara Torres was the cause for many of my tears this week. How could she not be? A 41-year-old mom who is swimming at her best? I tend to believe people, sometimes causing me to be gullible. Pat Forde doubts that Dara has come by her swimming renaissance fairly, and I am embarrassed to say that it never even occurred to me that she didn’t.

– The broadcasts for both swimming and track were very good. The announcers were careful to explain qualifying procedures, back stories, athletes’ accolades and the nuances of each event. The puff pieces were kept to a minimum, but still good. The broadcasts weren’t perfect – the post-event interviews were always a little weird, but still, these broadcasts far outpaced gymnastics.

Now, we wait. Most Olympians have been decided, though some gymnastics team members are still up in the air. The Games kick off in a little more than a month. For now, we can just sit back and enjoy the hype.

No Need to Coddle Female Gymnasts

shawnjohnson

The above pictured gymnast is Shawn Johnson. She’s adorable, isn’t she? Midwestern, sweet, respectful of history – she’s the type of gal you would never say a single bad word about. She is also a world class athlete – the reigning world all-around gymnastics champion and a prohibitive favorite to win gold in Beijing. Continue reading ‘No Need to Coddle Female Gymnasts’

Random Observations from the Men’s Gymnastic Trials

Jason Horton, Olympian

The men’s gymnastics team trials finished up on Saturday at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, and this event both wows and frustrates me. The athletes were fantastic – everything around them? Not so much.

Congratulations to Paul Hamm and Jonathan Horton, two of the members that were named to the team on Saturday. Hamm, the reigning Olympic all-around champ, has a broken hand but should be in good shape come August. Horton has been around the gymnastics scene for years, but this is his first Olympic team.

You have to feel for Raj Bhavsa. In 2004, he completed a fantastic trials. He hit every routine but didn’t score highly enough to automatically make the team. For some reason, he was not named to the team going to Athens. This year, he again had a fantastic trials, and still, didn’t automatically qualify. He is a dynamic performer, and clearly has some determination to come back four years later. I hope that he gets his name called today.

The broadcasting team of Tim Daggett, Al Trautwig, Elfie Schlagel and Andrea Joyce on the sidelines might be the most grating combo of announcers among all Olympic sports. To start the broadcast, Trautwig set up a quote from Leonardo DiCaprio from Titanic. As he was setting it up, my mind ran through all the memorable quotes from that atrocious movie, and I couldn’t think of any that fit the Olympic Trials. Then Trautwig comes out with “This is it.” You needed to watch Titanic to come up with that one? Andrea Joyce shows little by way of interviewing skills, which are kind of important in a sideline reporter. She asked David Sender, the reigning U.S. champion who sprained his ankle and had to withdraw from competition, to talk about what it felt like in his heart and his mind to have to withdraw from competition. He did a nice job answering her, and she reworded the same question, so that the poor kid basically had to say again, “It sucks.” Luckily for her and the tweens everywhere watching this, he answered her in a nicer manner than I would have. When talking to Horton right after he was named to the team, he started to answer that he couldn’t describe his feelings, but was clearly still answering her question when she prodded him like a nagging mother – Come on, try! It is going to be a long two weeks in August with her on the sidelines.

I am puzzled as to why they hold this event at all. It only yielded two team members for a team that needs six members! To automatically qualify for the team, the gymnast must place in the top two all-around, and place in the top three in at least three of the six events. After that, the team is decided by a committee from USA gymnastics. I completely understand why this is done – it ensures that the team members offer maximum medal potential and can bring in points to help the team. My question is – can’t they do this with the U.S. Championships, which were held a month ago? Then let the team start focusing on training, and not the stress of making the team.

Why Does China Want to Ruin My Summer?

Time Magazine asks a salient, yet frightening question: What if China does not allow the games to be broadcast? From the article:

Differences over a wide range of issues — from limits on live coverage in Tiananmen Square to allegations that freight shipments of TV broadcasting equipment are being held up in Chinese ports — surfaced in a contentious meeting late last month between Beijing organizers and high-ranking International Olympic Committee officials and TV executives — including those from NBC.

Seriously? I cannot even fathom an untelevised Olympics, and would probably cry if I didn’t get to hear Bob Costas pontificate nightly, but that is not the bigger issue. I have to ask – what is making China so afraid that they don’t want anything, not even the games, caught on camera? They claim that their citizens are happy, and no one will protest, and that only the sun will shine on Beijing, so wouldn’t they want to broadcast that wonder and delight to the world? Their desire to control every aspect of coverage will only backfire. I just hope that it doesn’t end up depriving the world of the goosebump-inducing moments that we have come to expect with every Olympiad.