Olympics recap: Week #1

So the Games of Beijing are one week in (over one week in for the soccer stars).

American swimmers: When they get their last medal, they should be sure to get the pink slip from the Chinese for the Water Cube, because they have owned that pool. Yes, Michael Phelps has gotten all the press, and given his career (and perhaps soon to be single Olympics) accomplishment, that is with good reason. But others have had spectacular runs.

Chinese divers: Remember when the U.S. used to win all of these medals; those days are in the past. The Chinese are truly masters at falling into water now.

Gymnastics: The U.S. took a surprise bronze for the men’s team, while the women won a silver in what (despite the media hype) must have been a crap shoot vs. an upset. Then, for the first time, two Americans go gold-silver in the womens all-around. Yet, the story is again: judging and birthdays. It seems that gymnastics is almost never about doing gymnastics …. maybe it is time to again revisit: despite the amazing athleticism of these athletes, is it time to acknowledge that gymnastics is not really a sport, in the sense that the judges are too much in the way of deciding who wins, vs. the athletes themselves. Its a shame really; the athletes seem to deserve better.

The other sports: Did you actually get to see the American women do what would have been considered impossible years ago: three American fencers sweeping the medals! I bet you didn’t! American shooters have picked up hardware, as have a host of others ranging from judo and wrestling to equestrian and cycling. Of course showing such insignificant sports on the main network (if at all) would just drop ratings, so NBC keeps us insulated from those athletes …. and makes sure we just see the popular stuff (girls in tight fitting leotards, girls (and men) in tight fitting swimsuits, bikini volleyball, and the such).

Sadly, NBC has dropped the ball. I don’t blame NBC per se, any network would likely have done it.

A few years ago at the Winter Games, they rolled the dice and showed curling (maybe because cross country skiing was considered less exciting), and people liked it! Why not show sports that many Americans don’t normally see …. show whitewater canoeing …. that looks both fun and exciting; who cares if Americans are not traditionally winning many medals there. Show fencing … for goodness sakes some of the biggest movies: Star Wars, Pirates of the Carribean, and Lord of the Rings, all have significant sword play ….. fencing would go over huge, especially with the kids. Given that the kids pay to watch the stage drama of professional wrestling, show them real wrestling. Who doesn’t like horses … show some equestrian. Given that professional boxing in the United States has become insignificant, let people see real boxing: boxing where the skill wins the bout, not some jamoch biting their opponent’s ear off. As much as I like watching Americans win medals, I also like to see what the rest of the world is doing. Let me see handball. Let me see some field hockey. For all the money NBC shelled out to get the “big” sports moved to Beijing AM for a PM live broadcast in the US (except for the west coast), they can show the other stuff. I know it can be done, because I remember watching this stuff in other Olympics. C’mon NBC ….. you can do better!

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