August 19, 2008

Are you still watching the Olympics?

The Phelps sweep is over, and now what? Last night, I was talking on the phone and had the Olympics on — I forget if it was live or the previous night's recording — and it was vaguely interesting watching horses jump — strange that an animal's athletic powers count — and pretty uninteresting watching boats go from left to right. I'm still theoretically interested in gymnastics, but I am incapable of avoiding spoilers like the one the NYT has spanning the top of its website right now. I watched the long competition for the women's all-around medal the other night knowing who won each medal, but since then, spoilage has put me off. Now, all the track and field is coming up, and I realize I don't care at all. I know from reading comments on previous Olympics posts that many of you prefer the events where the winner is determined by who crosses a line or touches a wall first, rather that by mystifying numbers produced by panels of experts, but I like the events where form and complexity vary infinitely. I can develop my own perception and judgment, and if the judges do something else, I can think about that and try to figure it out or get pissed off. What's the point of monitoring races to see who crosses a line first? Check. That happened. So-and-so is the fastest man in the world. Well, of course, someone is the fastest man in the world.

30 comments:

ron st.amant said...

I watched some of the hurdles and diving events.
I tried to stay awake to watch the Women's Beach Volleyball semi-final last night...but it was already 1:30am.
Luckily, living in Toronto, I also get the CBC as well as two NBC feeds so I get a wide selection of events.
Strangely I haven't seen even five minutes of Men's Basketball yet, though I suspect I'll catch some as it heads into the medal rounds.

al said...

Womens Beach Volleyball has another day. After that my viewing will be over. Watching the spoiled brats of the NBA play - not worth the time.

AllenS said...

I love equestrian events. Maybe it's because I own a horse. Next week I'll be going to the MN State Fair. I always go through the horse barn, and then a peak at what's happening in the coliseum.

Cedarford said...

I'd admit to being a little sick about NBC trying to manipulate viewers into focusing in on only the designated "marquee" US athletes - Phelps, the "stars" of Womens gymnastics and beach volleyball. And the hyped but choked "Tyson Gay".

And "Records!!!!!" - as if anyone who watches sports only does so because they are like baseball trivia fanatics that care more about stats than the actual games, the competition, and the excellence displayed.

The Americans of woman's saber, the 1st American female to get the gold in discus since 1932, the 400M mens sweep, the genius of Rafa Nadal, Dementevia and the doubles efforts of the Williams sisters and the Swiss headed by Roger Federer? Who cares! Play more footage of Phelps mother!

The British swimmer who finally bettered the great Janet Evans record? Who? The thrilling Nigerian soccer team, the nailbiting finishes to the Triathalon?

The Judo wars between the Brazilians, Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, and Europeans? Who cares because no American is there and we can talk about and show more Phelps? Or rebroadcast Mindy & Kerri 3X in a day?

Yeesh!

Very soon, the MSM will be forced to offer a menu that viewers can chose from for viewing from a variety of sports - cue from reviewers saying that the 55KG wrestling match won by a Mexican-American, the discus gold was won on a stunning throw by the American, and the Mens Triathalon a German took with a Jason Lezak type last effort - were thrillers.

And viewers can watch the events they want, not forced to get hours of Phelp's Mom and Bela Beach voleyball prelims only covering the "golden two" to the exclusion of any mention of outstanding competition outside "Our USA people" - and more stupid "human interest coverage of marginal or significant athletes. (The nadir of that was reached in hours of mawkish milking of the pathos and nobility of the speed skater whose sister tragically died 2 years ago of cancer.)

gophermomeh said...

I agree with al on the nba - booorring.

The rest of the Olympics - I love all of it. It's a chance to watch and enjoy sports and athletes that I don't usually pay that much attention to. It's kind of like a 2-week vacation, a treat, if you will. Though I am partial to the track. Watching Bolt the other night - that was watching history - and Michael Johnson in 1996 - his grace as a sprinter just blew me away.

bleeper said...

I hope to see some track and field, but don't hold out any hope that my random channel hopping will result in actually seeing any.

Gymnastics are tedious. Sticking a landing on one's knees is hardly good form. Follow the money, investigate the judges, then show some sports that have actual non-subjective endings.

And yes, someone is always the fastest man on earth. Almost always someone new. Sometimes a doped up Canadian. Sometimes not. The current guy is a bit of a slacker, based on his medal run - coasting the last 15 meters? Come on - dig in, put the record away for a while. Oh well, with great speed does not always come great ethics...

Tom said...

Usain Bolt- there's a great reason to still watch the Olympics.

While I am usually bored by track, this guy isn't just winning his races, he seems to be from a different planet. He doesn't even appear to sweat.

If he had 8 or 9 or 10 events to run, he looks like he would surely win them all.

It is impressive to see such a small country as Jamaica have so many superior sprinters in addition to the very best, Bolt.

Ben (The Tiger) said...

Nope.

I did watch a little of the women's beach volleyball earlier, after reading about their shenanigans with President Bush.

And if I flipped to it and it was on, I'd watch the finals.

Otherwise, no. I made a point of not watching the opening ceremony, and maybe that meant that I just didn't get into the spirit of it.

Susan said...

Did anyone see the interview Bob Costas did with Phelps and Mark Spitz? I figured 3 decades of real life would mellow Spitz. No such luck. I guess once a pompous asshole always a pompous asshole.

AntonK said...

Can someone remind me of why beach volleyball is in the Olympics? Oh, and while you're at it, do you know why the women players wear postage stamps, while the men wear baggy mid-thigh shorts and loose t-shirts?

MadisonMan said...

I actually thought Spitz was mellow. He seemed gracious, at least to me, despite his earned reputation as a jerk.

Zeb Quinn said...

I am incapable of avoiding spoilers like the one the NYT has spanning the top of its website right now

That little part is a no-brainer. The NYT stopped being relevant I don't know when, but some time ago in the distant past. Let it go. You'll feel better in many ways.

William said...

They briefly spotlighted the woman's pole vault last night. The event itself is graceful, awesome and fun to watch. The girls participating were all very good looking. I guess that's just a chance distribution. Why should good looking women be attracted to pole vaulting? (No bad jokes will appear here.)....The women discus throwers looked like women discus throwers....Sexism trumps nationalism. I have a tendency to root for the best looking female athlete. With woman's gymnastics there was a happy conjunction of sexism and nationalism. Still, in seven or eight years when the Chinese team reaches puberty, I bet they'll be very good looking.

SteveR said...

Sometime in the 70s the whole "Up Close and Personal" TV element intruded into the Olympics and the coverage has suffered ever since. Yes there are some good stories but work them into the events, not have some dope like Chris Collingsworth doing long tedious stories.

Original Mike said...

spoilers like the one the NYT has spanning the top of its website right now.

Well, it's really difficult for me to not read the NYT in order to avoid spoilers, but I'm making the sacrifice [/snark]

Actually, I've been pretty good about avoiding the spoilers so far.

Trooper York said...

CAUTION SPOILER ALERT.

Are you ready.

Ok.

Brett Farve is not on the Packers anymore. He ran like a thief in the night and now is part of the hapless Jets. Hee, hee.

Just in case anyone is interested in a real sport.

Trooper York said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rhhardin said...

Vicki Hearne in Adam's Task has a nice sub-essay on Hans Winkler and the equine events.

``Search in this book'' and type in winkler.

vbspurs said...

Let's put it this way:

I missed the first half of Brazil-Argentina (no spoilers, don't worry!) even though in my household, as in all rabid soccer ones, that is THE marquee matchup of the century every time it happens.

So as I wrote last night, I do believe the Olympics jumped the shark after last night.

I'll still watch, but not with the blowing-through-amber-lights-in-traffic desperation to get home to watch it intensity.

Cheers,
Victoria

Ann Althouse said...

Susan said..."Did anyone see the interview Bob Costas did with Phelps and Mark Spitz? I figured 3 decades of real life would mellow Spitz. No such luck. I guess once a pompous asshole always a pompous asshole."

Yeah, it was hilarious. Spitz seemed intent on demonstrating that however much question there may be about who swims better, there could be no question about who is smarter.

Ann Althouse said...

Phelps must have repeated his classic line — "I have no words" — about 12 times while Spitz was talking in Obamaworthy abstractions.

SteveR said...

Exactly my point, did Phelps/Spitz/Costas add anything to the coverage beyond making some or all them look worse? Just let me watch the events, put all that other stuff on the Lifetime Channel.

MadisonMan said...

Did they ever finish showing the women's pole vaulting? They cut away to the Uneven Bars, at which time I shut off the TV.

Knowing the Mark Spitz was complaining to anyone and everyone that someone didn't fly him to Beijing to see Phelps break the record colored my view of the interview. Bob Costas should have asked about that. Make it interesting.

Original Mike said...

Brett who, Trooper?

Chip Ahoy said...

Not watching. It was interesting seeing China make up for their self-imposed retardation but their yellow running dog (their phrasing, not mine) commie (my phrasing) cheating lying-about-ages pinko-swine (mine again) practices, from which they simply can not divest themselves, put me off the sports altogether.

But other than that some it's hard to miss.

vbspurs said...

Did they ever finish showing the women's pole vaulting?

Yes. The American girl got the Silver, but considering she only started pole vaulting 4 years ago, and lost to who NBC repeatedly called the "the best woman pole vaulter in history", I'd say that was amazing.

BTW, the Russian woman was great. Woman crush!

MadisonMan said...

Yeah really Troop -- spell his name right! He's on your City's only team, you know.

Roger Sweeny said...

I know from reading comments on previous Olympics posts that many of you prefer the events where the winner is determined by who crosses a line or touches a wall first, rather that by mystifying numbers produced by panels of experts, but I like the events where form and complexity vary infinitely. I can develop my own perception and judgment, and if the judges do something else, I can think about that and try to figure it out or get pissed off.

Which may be why you're a law professor. If law was as simple as who crossed a line first, there would be no law professors, or expensive lawyers.

ron st.amant said...

SteveR said Sometime in the 70s the whole "Up Close and Personal" TV element intruded into the Olympics and the coverage has suffered ever since.

I agree Steve. Since we have a newborn in the house though, I'm generally up in the middle of the night and I've noticed that the late night coverage seems to have less of those stories and more of the actual events. It might be worth a TiVo or other recording if you want to check out the competitions. They also tend to show the non-traditional events as well outside of prime time.

madman said...

Haven't we sufficiently established that nothing interesting is going to come out of Athletes' mouth? Don't understand why the talking heads still keep on talking to these Athletes? The worse is yet to come though. Leno, Letterman, Conan... you name it. I am going to Turn off my TV for next 2 weeks.