Author Topic: Do you care about the Olympic Games?  (Read 5040 times)

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Offline Andrew A.

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Do you care about the Olympic Games?
« on: August 09, 2012, 05:38:50 PM »
Mostly the track and field (a/k/a athletics) events, though if there seem to be noteworthy things from other sports give your thoughts on those.  I have watched almost none of these Olympics Games.  I have seen what has been shown on TVs (rowing, beach volleyball, team handball, etc.) when I have been out with friends at pubs and I saw the final mile of the 10,000m online, but otherwise nothing.  Like Ryan, though I have internet access via a cable account, NBC will not allow anyone to view streaming video from their site without a cable television account.  Which makes little sense for NBC yet is clearly the cable/satellite companies' push to exercise control over online content, but I digress.

Oddly, though I am certainly happy for Rupp with his 10,000m medal, it simply does not move or excite me much.  At least not as much as it does others, based on the gushing via social media and from running media websites.  Fam's sentiments on twitter seem to be about how I feel, it is difficult for me to feel much connection at all to someone like Rupp who seems like a mad science experiment kept locked away in a special, sterile vault in a remote fortress.  He trained and lived separately from his college teammates, scratches from races if the pollen count is a little high, has all sorts of high-tech training apparatuses at his disposal, and so on.  Apparently that all works, at least it did for this given race which the Kenyans and Ethiopians seemingly gift-wrapped for Farah and others.  No doubt he will run more American records and contend for medals on the world stage for years to come.  It simply does not come from a place of relevance for me.  I find myself more excited for Manzano's silver; he comes from a poor family, ran high school track and cc in Texas, ran workouts and races with his UT teammates, trains with one of the most old-school coaches, John Cook (who is not on record for special (and comprehensive) special supplementation or use of any and every tech gadget that comes down the pike).  Anyway, Manzano's medal feels more like a triumph and Rupp's feels more like an inevitable coronation, something that was bequeathed via special (acquired?) advantage.  Perhaps I am off-base here and not seeing things that others have noticed.

A sore spot I had with the 10,000m result was some of the commentary I saw coming after the race.  The result was hailed as 'the first U.S. medal in the O.G. 10,000m since Mills in '64.'  Even USATF made a version of this comment via twitter.  To me it clearly indicates a willing dismissal of women's accomplishments, or at best it relegates them to a lower class than those of men.  C'mon, "men" is but a three-letter word and easily inserted, even within the 140 character limit of twitter.

I am a Lolo fan, perhaps in contrast with my perception of Rupp.  Sure, she has built an image via the media and has employed that to make as much money as she can.  I am no fan of 'do anything to get ahead' in sport, yet to me Lolo has carried herself with a respectable level of class and humanity.  I thought her 4th was an accomplishment indeed and am no less proud of her than if she had made the podium for a medal.  I do not think she deserved to get thrown under the bus by the NYT and found the criticisms unfair and perhaps biased.  However, I also recognize that if you are going to put yourself in the public spotlight (esp. to that degree) then backlash is going to be inevitable and you had better be tough enough to handle it.  Do not get hooked by heckling -- that is the goal of hecklers, to draw your focus from what is most important to you -- just look past it and keep on moving, rise above. 

I had been telling friends prior to the 100m final (even before the opening rounds) that Bolt was going to blow everyone away and that the '11 WC and Jamaican Trials meant nothing.  In fact, I speculated that even if the false start DQ at the WC were not intentional, the subsequent loss to WC gold medalist (and training partner) Blake at the JAA OT likely was orchestrated to build suspense that would pay off for both of them.  I have no problem with that possibility and in fact would applaud them for giving the general viewership some added intrigue to get them watching the 100m final when otherwise they might not have been interested in watching with Bolt coming in as the overwhelming favorite.  Whatever the case may have been, it was definitely a good show. 

Rudisha's WR in the 800m final is simply stellar, even if it came on a stage where it could easily be overshadowed by the Bolt Show.  He definitely got to his peak at the right time and place, though. 

No U.S. men in the 400m final is rather disappointing.  This was an event that the U.S. has dominated for decades, what is happening with the development of male U.S. long sprinters?  To further compound this, six of the finalists ran for U.S. colleges and universities. 

Was not sure what to expect from Phelps after four years as BMOC at Michigan, and all the access to women and partying that goes with that.  He rallied to become the most decorated Olympian ever, hats off to him - though I recognize that swimming allows an easier path to that than any other sport does.  I still consider Owens and Lewis to be the top Olympians.
« Last Edit: August 09, 2012, 06:49:12 PM by Andrew A. »
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Offline Double

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Re: Do you care about the Olympic Games?
« Reply #1 on: August 09, 2012, 06:23:05 PM »
Off and on I tune in.  Years ago I took time off work to watch.  Always enjoy the new crop of young swimmers.  I watched the 10,000m
just because I turned the tube on and it was starting.  Not overly excited about the games.  Am interested in the marathon events.  The thing
that gets me is I have become a USA womens soccer fan and I have no idea why.  I may actually enjoy the Winter games more.
"What are you training for?" "For life."  (Barry Duncan)
"What race are you running?" "The human race." (Clement Grum)

Offline Lighty

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Re: Do you care about the Olympic Games?
« Reply #2 on: August 12, 2012, 05:13:42 PM »
My opinion is the Olympic broadcast needs to be taken away from NBC.  They spoiled the results themselves with advertisements for their own morning show during their evening broadcast of the same sport, Bob Costas looks like a freak after what must be plastic surgery gone bad, and the announcers make such inane comments we started watching on mute.

I really only watch gymnastics, track and field and the marathon.  It's hard not to tune in for the swimming just because it's on, but it doesn't matter much to me who wins.   What I didn't understand about the gymnastics rules for the all-around competition is that only the top two gymnasts from each country were allowed to compete for the all around medal.  This means that Jordan Wieber, who had the 4th highest qualifying score in the all around qualifying competition, did not get to compete for an all around medal because two other US gymnasts scored higher.  How is that fair?  The Olympics are supposed to be about competing to find out who is the best in the world in a particular sport, not to give every country a shot at a medal.  No other sport  has this rule.

My only other thought on the Olympics is that some sports are just much easier than others and they don't deserve the same medals.  Some sports, like beach volleyball, should just receive gold wrapped chocolate medals.

Offline Ryan

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Re: Do you care about the Olympic Games?
« Reply #3 on: August 12, 2012, 06:35:18 PM »
I've been passively watching the prime time coverage. Like Lighty, I think NBC needs to lose their broadcast rights. Sadly, they probably won't. I know Andrew and Lighty are aware of my biggest complaint about NBC. They spent months proclaiming the greatness that would be their "free" live online coverage of every event. As it turns out, you only got live online coverage or, last I checked, even archived content of complete events if you subscribed to a cable or satellite provider on a plan that included CNBC or MSNBC. Seeing as I cancelled my Dish Network when they treated this loyal customer worse than they treat brand new customers and I couldn't convince myself to pay any other provider $50/month (after a short "introductory" period) for content I barely waste my time watching, I was left out in the cold.

Free live online streaming of every event turned into a pay wall for those of us who can't justify a cable bill. Major NBC fail that largely left me ignoring this year's Olympics (and took my eyeballs off a lot of ads NBC could have been making money from).

Beyond passively watching the prime time coverage, I've been trying to get T&F/marathon results as quickly as possible, mostly so I can post medal winners to the HillRunner.com Twitter feed but also so I can scan results and see how the events went. I haven't been going out of my way, though, to get the results. I get them at my earliest convenience but at my convenience, typically not immediately.

As for my "cheering" I think it's great as an American and as a distance runner to see how good the American distance runners have been doing. Andrew, I do in a way feel the same as you about Rupp but the Americans as a whole have been impressive. From obviously Rupp and Manzano bringing home medals to all the top 10 finishes in quite a few events we've seen. Of course, I'm more than just an American distance running fan. It's been interesting to see the uber-confident, high flying Kenyans really struggle out there. It was cool to see Mo Farah do so well in front of his "home" fans. I got to see the women's marathon live and that was a good race. I was out camping this weekend so I didn't get to see the men's marathon. I'd like to see it to see how Meb played his hand and what happened to Hall and Abdirahman, as well as to see how the race played out up front, with the Kenyans getting 2 medals but not the one they all really wanted. Of course, I don't know if I'll have my chance to see it because of NBC's not so free online videos.

Offline Lighty

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Re: Do you care about the Olympic Games?
« Reply #4 on: August 13, 2012, 07:45:13 PM »
Ryan, we turned on the marathon "live" at about 6:55am Eastern time, shortly before the half way point.  Ryan had just dropped out and pretty much all the attention that got was a side comment that American Ryan Hall dropped out.  Later they had a short interview (that I missed but Dave saw) where he said he had hamstring tightness from the start.  I don't know that they ever said why the other American dropped out.  I was really annoyed that they did not show more of Meb's race because at the half way he was in 17th place.  They showed him only a few times and never mentioned his position again until the last couple of miles.  He obviously had a great race since he worked his way up from 17th place to 4th!

The race was really between the two Kenyans and Kiprotich until mile 23 when Kiprotich took off around an uphill turn.  My favorite quote from the Olympics was Kiprotich's broken English response to a question about what his strategy was at mile 23, "I try to break away because I want to get a medal!"  His last few miles were in the 4:40s in 77 and apparently high humidity.  He deserved that medal!  He left those Kenyans eating his dust.

Offline Ryan

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Re: Do you care about the Olympic Games?
« Reply #5 on: August 14, 2012, 09:12:42 AM »
Given that it was an NBC broadcast, it's amazing they didn't give more attention to the Americans. I was reading elsewhere how it was a shame the NBC broadcasts were so US-centric as to be disappointing. I would generally agree with that. Where was the medal ceremony for one of the greatest performances of the games - Rudisha's 800 meter victory?

It sounds like it was a great race, even as a battle of attrition. Meb was approximately 2 minutes slower in the second half than the first half and, as you mentioned, he moved through the field very well. As far as I've seen, none of the top finishers produced a negative split. Sometimes, battles of attrition are just ugly but this sounds like it was a great game of strategy. Who can hold on the best and push himself through the fatigue to get the victory? It may not always be as amazing to see as a decisive surge at 22 miles but it can be fascinating to see anyway. In a way, I wish I could have seen it. In a way, I'm reminded of what Andrew has stated many times. I'm glad I was out living my life rather than sitting on the couch watching others live theirs. NBC's coverage made it that much easier to make the decision to not be sitting on the couch.

Offline runner1

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Re: Do you care about the Olympic Games?
« Reply #6 on: August 14, 2012, 03:24:56 PM »
The way to watch these games was to DVR it and fast forward to the actual races and interviews or profiles that interest you. I spent less than an hour each day watching what was important to me. I did watch the marathon live and did "waste" that time of my life. In my defense, it was early and I had a great run afterwards. I did feel pathetically slow though compared to what I just watched.  I liked it that they did not focus on the Americans. The race upfront was fun to watch. It was great to see the moves made live rather than a replay.   

Offline Andrew A.

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Re: Do you care about the Olympic Games?
« Reply #7 on: August 18, 2012, 03:14:39 PM »
I'm glad I was out living my life rather than sitting on the couch watching others live theirs. NBC's coverage made it that much easier to make the decision to not be sitting on the couch.
For sure, though watching fellow humans perform to their greatest potential (esp. as teams) can inspire us to live our dreams -- or at least inspire us to support others in pursuit of their dreams.  Yet the OG has become so watered-down and corrupted (badminton teams throwing matches, for one) that there is little guarantee of seeing that and thus feeling the other as a result when firing up the boob tube to watch the broadcast.

I was also away from technology last weekend, up on a mountain during the men's marathon.  It really is a shame for Hall and Abdi to both DNF (ditto the entire Ethiopian contingent), especially when a lot of guys from Canada, Japan, Spain, Australia, etc. gutted out a finish.  Likely a side-effect of the professional era yet still difficult to excuse.  True, anyone can have a bad day and it could happen to a couple of different guys on the same team.  Perhaps it indicates that they probably knew (or should have known) how things would go well in advance of the race and should have stepped aside to let the alternate(s) race.  Honor (not to mention true humility) seems to have become diluted in this pro era, notably among U.S. runners.

I liked it that they did not focus on the Americans. The race upfront was fun to watch. It was great to see the moves made live rather than a replay.   
I agree, that is how I would prefer race coverage.  Even if split-screen or screen-in-screen were used, producers could not know that any given runner who was well outside the top 10 at the half would wind up working up to 4th and possible medal contention.  Especially given how both the '08 men's OG marathon and the '12 men's OT marathon turned out.  It would feel more like pandering to the U.S. audience to give any focus to guys who were not having any real affect on the race for the medals.  It was nice to see a Ugandan score a gold medal in this event.
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Offline Ryan

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Re: Do you care about the Olympic Games?
« Reply #8 on: August 18, 2012, 07:46:05 PM »
Indeed, if I'm going to watch something on TV, I'd rather spend my time watching people strive to fulfill lifelong dreams and achieve at the best of their abilities when it counts. That's why I do like watching the prime time coverage yet and why I don't completely tune out of the whole thing. I just would, following your lead, rather not set my life aside to do so. I will watch when it fits my life.

It was disappointing to see the DNFs. As someone who has had to DNF, I have mixed feelings. I don't want to see someone ruin the rest of his or her career just to finish at a level that is meaningless to that person. That said, at that stage, I'd have trouble picturing dropping out for anything short of potential serious injury. As for letting alternates take your space, I also wonder about that. Ritz was already out, running on the track. Would you rather have Hall trying, even if not at 100%, or Brett Gotcher, probably training for a fall marathon, stepping in? Nothing against Gotcher, I'm a fan of his, but I'd take Hall. He has the greater potential, even if he's not 100%.

I agree that I'd like to see coverage that is not too American-centric but, at the same time, I'd like to know what's going on with the Americans. There's a balance, keeping in mind you're broadcasting to an American audience while also not taking away from the race developing up front.

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