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Wednesday, 01 August 2012


Mike, re the balance beam, it is like a device of torture to me - I can't watch it. All of the girls doing it need a gold medal in courage.

25 years ago I was rock climbing, slipped and fell about 15 feet before being slowed and caught by my safety rope and climbing partner. The outer lump of my ankle "clipped" a little rock outcrop (I was wearing climbing skins on my feet - no protection there), got chipped off and ended up about 6 inches above where it should be but still inside the the skin of my outer calf. Ow. That's as in Ow in capital letters, repeated 20 times, and interspersed with every swear word I know, at very large volume. I've broken other bones, but this was not comparable in pain terms. It took about three months and four operations until I was walking without a stick.

These girls run the same risk of a very slight off-centre landing 10 times in a 90 second routine.

I do wonder why the men don't do the same apparatus, or more to the point, why the apparatus is not banned under one of the Geneva Conventions. I think in the States you also have provision for banning "cruel and unusual punishment".

It was wonderful, I guess. We enjoyed the girls right through to the floor exercise when during the commercial we fell asleep only to wake up just as they realized they had won gold. I get so wrapped up in joy for all these kids and those who love them. It is why I sit through hours of the same stupid ads and commentary...

If you go to veetle.com you can often find someone streaming a BBC channel from the UK, plus at times channels from other countries (haven't seen Australia yet). This is the only way for us to watch the Olympics ( no TV). I could set up a proxy server but I haven't got round to figuring it out.

Steve in Madison, Wisc.

Agreed about the coverage, Mike. My wife is an avid gymnastics fan, and, while we were thrilled that the Americans won gold, she was disappointed in the lack of coverage of other countries. I'm not sure we even saw NBC mention who received bronze, let alone show many routines, outside of the Americans and Russians.

Granted, you can watch all of it online at NBC, from what I understand.

I'm with you in that I feel uncomfortable watching the balance beam contestants. It appears to me it is a serious-injury-waiting-to-happen competition.

Maybe it's about changes in hairstyles or something, but the 1936 women look so old! They could be, maybe, 23 or 24.

If you are an Olympic junkie then I would suggest a Canadian website provided by CTV It features a LIVE NOW button on the video screen which will give you a myriad of live feeds. I think most events are shown, the "different experience" part happens when you realize there is no commentary. Often very welcome but you need to pay attention :)

Don't know if you read the press reports, but LL was present for Phelps' win and had offered to be part of his medal presentation, but was turned down by the tone-deaf IOC brass.

I saw on NBC that the USA had the most number of female gymnasts doing the most number of routines. A couple of other countries only had one or two gymnasts in one or two routines. Other countries didn't even bother showing up. Even just by sheer numbers alone, the USA would have won. How Romania got third place, I have no idea. I think they didn't even compete.

The free to air coverage is estimated at 1.2 million in Oz. A viewer got to the stations facebook page and asked them to show some actual sports instead of endless replays of the same swimming event and interviews with athletes. He got over 100,000 likes in a day. That's nearly 10% of the entire viewing audience and it's now in the papers about how poor the coverage is.

If you can afford pay TV you have excellent coverage here.


" Interesting how the sport has changed—they showed grace and control then, but it wasn't nearly as acrobatic as today."

Well, why don't you try a couple of those moves . . . %^)

Seriously, though, Mike, what's different now is the total, complete, utter professionalism of the Olympics. Today's competitors are not amateurs; not even the non-NBA competitors. With the exceptions of extremely small countries, every competitor has been groomed by coaches, kinesiologists, doctors, and scientists since early childhood for competition. Take a look at the US Olympic team financials to see what kind of sums are involved.

This time, I'm not watching the Olympics much except, of course, when something catches me and sets the hook deep but I now find myself wistfully hoping they'll throw the entire enterprise out—hook, line, and sinker—and return to an amateur olympics, held in Greece, where every participant must pay their own way there and take time off from their day job to do it. It'd be safer for everyone, too, without the bazillions of press and hangers-on because these are just . . . amateurs. "George from Malta just won gold in the 100M freestyle—it was a good time."

I do love watching people at the peak of human powers but this has just gotten ridiculous.


Mike, thanks for the links. Some interesting material.

I'm not big on watching others participate in sports: I'd rather be doing something of my own. However, coming from sports-mad Oz, even I can't help but hear something of the current events in London. And the coverage here, at least at the end of the news, makes mention of the gold medals for the UK in the women's coxless pair rowing, and cycling (by the same guy who just won the Tour de France). There was a Radio National interview with the coach of the Hellenic judo team. Thank goodness to hear of other's efforts. After all, to even be competing at the Olympics is a wonderful achievement.

Interestingly, literally tens of thousands of the best seats for the most popular events continue to go empty due to corporate buy outs and no shows.

Someone really missed an opportunity to prove that corporations really are people!

We have the same problem in Australia, but, since our athletes are not doing as well as they supposedly should be, commentating has switched from a rather repulsive cheerleading and belittling of other nations to even more revolting snide comments about the weight and appearance of our competitors.

Was John Orozco taken out of the arena and shot after his disaster on the pommel horse? We never saw him compete in the remaining three rotations.

If Dannell Leyva had suffered a similar fate, would NBC have ended its coverage of the event and switched to something where the Americans were winning or at least in with a chance of winning?

I am beginning to think NBC stands for No Bloody Coverage! I am British by the way.

Naturally I'm pleased when our American athletes do well... but I get weary of the jingoism, explicit and implied.

So do I. However, I think American Olympians do deserve all the support they can get explicitly and implicitly from their compatriots in Olympic venues. The American "laissez faire" approach in preparation for Olympic glory, especially in individual sports like track and field, hews most closely to the Olympic ideal of the pursuit of excellence in amateur sports. (This still holds true even with the entry of pros in team sports and the "professionalization" of athletics. After all, pro athletes rose to the pinnacle of their chosen sport by dint of their achievement as amateurs.)

During the Cold War the American approach triumphed over the challenge by the "national sports program" of the Russians and the East Germans in the Olympics. But will the American way triumph over Chinese juggernaut? China is now the leading exponent of the "nationalization" of training for Olympic sporting glory.

For me, next to doping nothing subverts the Olympic spirit more than a "nationalized" Olympic training program. That is, the training of Olympic candidates from early childhood not for the glory of the individual athlete but for the greater glory of the collective and country. This is jingoism, pure and simple. The polar opposite of striving for Platonic excellence by individual best effort and teamwork for the love of the sport.

Which is why my ideal *amateur* Olympic Champion is Bruce Jenner (Decathlon, Montreal 1976).

And Olympic Champions even if true patriots are seldom jingoistic. Not George Foreman waving the American flag in the ring. Nor Tommie Smith and John Carlos' "Human Rights" salute in Mexico. Not even the American Hockey Team at Lake Placid although the home crowd justifiably was. (In fairness to the Russians, hockey is their traditional national sport, not a "nationalized" one. And so is table tennis for the Chinese and maybe even gymnastics.) It can even be said that great Olympic Champions transcend their nationality and are embraced by all: Muhammad Ali, Nadia Comaneci, Kip Keino, Roger Bannister, to name a few.

As for showing the flag, or the chants of "U.S.A! U.S.A.!" or its equivalent in Mandarin, I think this will persist as long as nation states exist. As far as home crowds go, I think the Brits are the least jingoistic. I don't know what U.K.'s national chant is, if any. They usually chant their athlete's name. But then again, I haven't seen Olympic coverage of a football match involving the Brits, yet.

May I close by saying that the London Olympics Opening Ceremony was by far the least "jingoistic" I've seen. Beijing set the gold standard in terms of spectacle and precision in execution. At Beijing, the Chinese flaunted their comprehensive contributions to civilization.

The Londoners chose to have fun instead. They tooted only one British contribution to world progress (Industrial Revolution), spectacularly and flawlessly staged. The rest was all popular culture and rock-and-roll! (And children literature). London 2012 rocks! Plurarity, diversity, and the pursuit of happiness will trump totalitarian regimentation anytime.

Disclosure: I come from a country with a largish population and a puny Olympic footprint with only a handful of Olympic medals to show since 1936. Maybe we'll get our first gold in London 2012 in boxing courtesy of "Little Pacman." (And no, boxing is not our national sport. Maybe Thailand's.) So please pardon this long rant.

I liked this stacked sequence of photos of gymnast Kristian Thomas (taken by m43photo, the day after receiving his Olymus OM-D E-M5):

I dislike the fact that the networks tend to favour sports that are either popular (basketball, beach volleyball, etc.) and so I rarely get to see the discus throw, or the hammer throw, etc. I understand that TV ratings are important, but you'd think that with 500 channels (?) at our disposal, they wouldn't all show the same thing.

Sometimes it's more spectacle than sport, but it grabs you just the same, doesn't it?

Well, Gabby took the gold in a flying manner...though I thought (IMHO) that Komova beat her in elegance and grace but not in her gymnastic serie, Gabbies were world class.

Greetings, Ed.

@sarge - the first GB football match the GB crowd booed one of the GB players because it was being played at Old Trafford (Man Utd) and the player (Bellamy) used to play for Liverpool. Very funny. (Then he scored).

BBC coverage is fantastic, on two channels and also all available online and on phones!

I was at the Olympic Park for handball on Sunday. It is a fantastic atmosphere GO LONDON. Its a real shame the USA coverage sounds so poor. NBC paid $1.2 billion for it I heard. Lots of great sporting moments that have nothing to do with USA. (i.e. Lithuanian 15yr old winning a swimming gold - amazing stuff)

Yep, the balance beam is a killer. When my son was in high school the boy's team would help at the girl's meets and vice versa. At one meet he provided entertainment while the judges were compiling the girl's scores by doing a balance beam routine. He did good! But, while he did not show it at the time, he had broken three bones in his foot doing a back flip.

The NBC gymnastics coverage has been terrible. They only show winning performances by the U.S. There is no real coverage of the event. For example in men's gymnastics they did not show any rings or high bar, yet they claim to have covered the men's gymnastics...

Here in the UK the extent of the BBC Coverage is fantastic.

24 HD TV Channels showing every event live, plus feeds of the same on the web.

I should have booked more time off work...

Simon C wrote: "24 HD TV Channels showing every event live..."

Thank goodness I don't have TV! Just over another week of it. Then it might be safe to turn the radio back on. And this is said by someone that's into to solo sports. Not the team stuff. That's too tribal, though I might make an exception if Scotland are playing.

The sun's shining, and it's a beautiful day. A rare event this Summer. I'm going out for a cycle. With a camera of course. Just you guys sit on the couch, and have another beer!

Might take the sea kayak out later, and see if there are any dolphins about...
[e.g. "Lomoesque" taken with a £20 film camera:
https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-OwMpAd9QUJQ/ScF-WOq1-kI/AAAAAAAAIOE/WYnqpFgcC4o/s1280/Dolphins_01a.jpg ]

I am a Brit visiting family in the USA and I have to admit I am a little homesick for the BBC. Watching NBC you'd think that the only sports in existence are swimming, gymnastics and volleyball. Three areas where the USA are obviously very successful.

I have a thing about what comprises sports and should be in the olympics. In my opinion if it needs a choreographer or a panel of judges to decide the winner it's not a psort and shouldn't be in the Olympics. If it's decided by an objective measure - fastest, highest, heaviest or scoring more it's a sport.
My wife is a little jaded with my wondering why there is no Ballroom Dancing in the Olympics - while I was saying I thought the 8 person synchronised swimming should be won by the Spanish as they had the sparkliest costumes…

Not that I have anything against figure skating , gymnastics, diving etc - they're enjoyable to watch but 'best' is too subjective for me.

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