Sunday, August 12, 2012 at 2:11 PM
I declared on Friday that television coverage of these Olympic Games had jumped the shark. And NBC showed just why last night. For, instead of beginning its tape-delayed, prime-time broadcast by showing the Olympic events it knew people wanted to see, NBC interposed a further delay to air a one-hour documentary on the events of World War II. Events, mind you, that anyone in America can watch 24/7 on the History channel.
Even worse, the network could not have chosen two more annoying personalities to host this documentary than that smart-alecky gnome, sportscaster Bob Costas, and former NBC news anchor Tom Brokaw – who always sounds like he’s talking and chewing hot potatoes at the same time.
So if you are one of the few people who were not already planning to boycott NBC after tonight’s Closing Ceremony, this commercial stunt should provoke you into joining this madding crowd of boycotters. This was not NBC’s finest hour.
Final results of note
I was not kidding when I wrote in my Day 14 commentary that I’d had enough. Therefore, I did not watch any Olympics yesterday, Saturday, or today, the final day of competition. Nevertheless, I feel obliged to at least note for posterity the results of a few signature events from these final two days of competition:
It came as no surprise when the USA blew out France 86-50 to win gold in women’s Basketball. What was surprising, however, was the scare Spain put in the “Dream Team” by scoring 100 points before losing by a mere seven: 107-100. Its average margin of victory coming into this final was over 30 points. This validates the view I expressed in my Day 2 commentary that this Dream Team could not hold a candle to the original Dream Team.
On the other hand, I think the IOC should discontinue Basketball as an Olympic sport for the same two reasons it discontinued Softball: no matter the occasional close call (or the exceptional loss), the Americans dominate to a prohibitive degree and, unlike most team sports, Basketball is hardly played outside of North America and Europe.
David Boudia of the USA shocked the world by upsetting the designated Chinese gold medalist in men’s 10m platform diving. Bo Qui settled for silver; Britain’s 18-year-old poster boy for these Olympics, Tom Daley, did his country proud by winning bronze. Significantly, this was the first time an American won any medal of any type in diving since 1996. Conversely, instead of the expected 8 of 8 gold, the Chinese settled for 6 of 8 (a Russian did a little shocking of his own when he won gold in the men’s 3m springboard on Day 11).
Brazil upset the USA in women’s Volleyball to win gold; but Russia prevented a highly coveted sweep when it defeated Brazil in men’s Volleyball to win gold.
Mexico defeated Brazil to win gold in men’s Soccer, continuing the most improbable losing streak in all of sports (i.e., of Brazilians who, perennially, are reputed to be the best players in the world failing time and again to win gold at the Olympics).
The USA got the better of Jamaica again, winning gold this time in the women’s 4x400m relay; Russia took silver; Jamaica, bronze. But, as expected and quite fittingly, Usain Bolt led Jamaica in avenging this loss – not just by defeating the USA in the men’s 4x100m relay, but by doing so in world-record fashion. Jamaica held the previous record of 37.04. It set a new mark of 36.84. The USA won silver; Trinidad and Tobago, bronze.
Stephen Kiprotich of Uganda out-dueled two (tag-teaming) Kenyans to win gold in the men’s marathon.
FINAL OVERALL MEDAL COUNT: USA: 104; China: 87; Russia: 82
I made a point in my commentary on the Opening Ceremony of heralding the fact that Team USA was comprised of more women than men for the first time in Olympic history.
Regrettably, NBC celebrated this fact in chauvinistic fashion by airing a montage of the best female tits and ass shots its cameramen captured during these Games. By contrast, I would like to celebrate it by noting that women won 29 of the 46 gold and 58 of the 104 overall medals Team USA won.
This should put to rest all (Republican) doubts about the efficacy of Title IX – which, among other things, mandated equality between the sexes when it comes to opportunities, funding, treatment, and other benefits in athletics. What’s more, the effect of this legislation was also reflected in the number of female Olympians competing for other countries whose bios boast of training at educational institutions in the United States.
Who would have thought Great Britain would enjoy sensational athletic success during these Games in direct proportion to the spectacular security failures it suffered in the run up to them? Yet there’s no denying the once-in-a-lifetime success its fourth-place haul of 65 medals overall and third-place haul of 29 gold represent.
What’s more, given the unqualified shambles it made of security preparations, there’s also no denying the shock and awe at how well the Games were run and at how safe they turned out to be. Even the notoriously inclement British weather went into hibernation for the most part, favoring athletes with almost ideal conditions for every outdoor event.
Well done Great Britain: as Team GB and as host!
As for the actual Closing Ceremony, frankly, I don’t know why they even bother. Because, by now, most people are usually so strung-out on anything related to the Olympics that they’d probably shoot the TV if they even bothered to tune in.
Of course, I appreciate why the athletes would welcome this opportunity to congregate in the Olympic Stadium to mark the end of intense athletic competition in a state of ecstatic bonding revelry. But it speaks volumes that while I can remember almost everything that happened during the Opening Ceremony in Beijing, I cannot remember anything that happened during the Closing Ceremony, and the novelty then was such that I was really tuned in. Can you remember anything?
Furthermore, I don’t know who the London organizers thought they were enticing with their tease about the Spice Girls, music’s “Golden Girls,” headlining this ceremony.I’m sorry, but this is taking the very good thing about women dominating these Olympics a bit too far. And having the sublime Adele play second fiddle to them only compounds this folly.
Not to mention that I specifically asked for Pink Floyd, and they’re offering The Who? Puhleeese!
Finally, apropos of lamenting NBC’s sexualizing of female Olympians, the girls from Ipanema will surely provide ample diversion in this respect at the Rio Games in 2016.
See you then….