29th Olympiad

Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on August 10, 2008

I didn't watch the opening ceremonies -- I'm a sports fan, not a "ceremonies" fan. That's one of the reasons that the Olympics, as broadcast by NBC, is too often a disappointment. When they have the World Cup half way across the world, they air the games whenever they actually occur -- whether that's in prime time or the middle of the night. Not so much with the Olympics. That may be changing some this year with the numerous NBC-affiliated cable channels carrying all Olympics all the time -- and a lot in Hi-Def.

Some comments and observations:

  • The cycling road race was pretty impressive. The IOC and Chinese officials can spin the "haze" as harmless all they want, but if any American city looked that bad on a regular basis, there would be howls from the usual suspects. Having said that, the finish was almost anticlimactic. There wasn't a single sprinter in the leading group and you could tell that they were drained.
  • I could only stand to watch three rounds of a boxing match between a Cuban and an Australian. Ever since the scandal that cost Roy Jones Jr. a gold in Seoul in 1988, the Olympics has used this computerized scoring system that requires three judges to record a scoring strike within 1 second of each other or no point is scored. What results is befuddling boxing. At the end of the third round, the Cuban was up 14-3, but if you are just an average, but somewhat informed, fan, there's no way you could come up with that wide a disparity in performance.
  • Finally, there was this story I saw come across the wire by McClatchy newspapers' John McGrath that amused me:

    When soon-to-be Duke freshman Becca Ward pulled herself together moments after a semifinal defeat left her in tears, she realized her American teammates, Mariel Zagunis and Sada Jacobson, would finish 1-2 in the women's individual sabre competition. A victory in the bronze medal match, Ward realized, would give the USA its first-ever sweep in a fencing event.

    Before Saturday, "American Fencing Legends" might've been considered among the world's thinnest sports books, alongside "The Drop Kick Instructional Primer" and "Green Jackets and Pimiento Cheese: Behind the Scenes With The Masters Tournament Committee."

    Then Ward's frantic comeback victory over Russia's Sofiya Velikaya set the stage for the all red, white and blue medal ceremony.

    Of course, had Ward lost, it still would've been an "all red, white and blue medal ceremony." She defeated a Russian. The Russian flag is ... red, white and blue.

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