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The Telefile

It's Back to the Beach… Again

by Angel Cohn August 22, 2008 11:54 am
It's Back to the Beach… Again

This goes against everything I've complained about for the last two weeks, but I actually kind of enjoyed watching beach volleyball last night. Well, at least the final set. The American team, Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser (who have stupid nicknames like the Professor and the Thin Beast) totally dominated the last round and shut out the poor Brazilian guys. It was intense and kind of awesome. I didn't even mind watching the live broadcast until 12:10 in the morning. That is, until Bob Costas popped up to tell me that because the game went so long, our promised coverage of the decathlon (one of the most impressive feats in the Olympics) was getting jettisoned to the wee hours of the morning. But you know, that's how they roll. Two hours of track and field (just sprinting and hurdles), an hour of beach volleyball, an hour of diving and ten minutes of BMX racing, no time for the 20 odd other sports happening. Would it kill them to put in a 20 minute highlight reel of the events on a given day? MSNBC does this update thing, but it is at like 5 in the afternoon when I don't have time to pay attention. A primetime debriefing would be wonderful. Even if they aired it at midnight as a wrap up. It's really too late to do anything about it now, but if they are looking for ideas for the future 2012, that's my suggestion.

At one point Bob Costas was rambling on about how it was so great that sports like BMX, weightlifting and synchronized swimming were all a part of the Olympics, really providing something for everyone. I barely restrained myself from yelling at the screen. Sure there are all these sports and it is fantastic that they are all airing somewhere, but they make it really, really hard to find them on TV at normal hours of the day. Even basketball has been on at random points of the day, and I couldn't care less about the so-called Redeem team. And if BMX happened just to be completed "just minutes ago" as Costas claimed, why couldn't that have aired Live? Was it just so important to squeeze in footage of the track stars fiddling with their starting blocks to get ready for a race that happened a full day before?

At least I finally got to see BMX in primetime, as promised, even though they devoted all of ten minutes to it, but it is a new sport, so I guess I shouldn't expect much more. It was worth the wait. I loved the BMX racing -- there are huge crashes and dramatic falls and major upsets all in the course of like two minutes and it could kick pursuit's ass. Though the bikes in pursuit with their blingy wheels are way cooler than seeing grown men on teeny-tiny two-wheelers. It vaguely looked like they beat up some kid and stole their bike. Though Mindy's high school pal won a bronze, and she doesn't think this is actually the case. Whatever. I guess it doesn't look any more ridiculous than those twisted skateboards with the caster in the middle that make people look randomly drunk because they are wobbling all over the place.

I don't really have much to say about the running and hurdling. Some people ran fast and won. And the American team truly needs to figure out how this thing called a relay works. You pass a baton. You don't let go until the other person has a hold on it. Seems pretty straight-forward. Randomly, I'm just wondering if it is a given that someone will bring flags for the athletes to drape around them when they win a medal. Do they coordinate that in advance? Is there a phone chain?

Then there was diving. America's great big hope Laura Wilkinson didn't win, but China continued to dominate. They sure know what they are doing. But this brings me to my other gripe of the day (Mary Carillo wasn't on, so I had to come up with something else to complain about.) During sporting events these little bugs pop up in the corners of the screen, telling you when other events are starting. They've been doing this all Olympics. "Shawn Johnson in 17 minutes." "Michael Phelps in 43 minutes." "Laura Wilkinson in 8 minutes." Why give people's names? What's wrong with "Diving finals in 8 minutes"? Why does it have to be a person? I'd watch gymnastics even if I didn't give a fig who was competing. "Balance beam in 95 minutes." I'm so there. It really makes me curious how the Games are covered in other countries. Are they all so blatantly biased to their own athletes?

So enough ranting. Let me talk about some good stuff for a while. Like how I was just about to turn off the TV last night when some voiceover dude said that Bob Costas had breaking news. I was skeptical that it was something I'd care about, but I got suckered in. Turns out, it was the whole hubbub about the ages of the Chinese gymnasts being investigated again. Now that's actually interesting. I'm doubtful much will come of it, but at least someone's taking note.

I taped the gymnastics gala on Oxygen. Yes, some of this aired during primetime the night before, but this was the complete gala. With the weird singing and more performers from around the world. They even let some of the rhythm gymnastic people in on the fun. One team did a performance that I'd swear Mia Michaels choreographed, with little girls in white dresses kicking and stretching and bending, but then they added in some hoops. But the best part (and I can't believe this didn't make it to air) were the showcases from some of the acrobatic groups from around China. This was some sick Cirque du Soleil stuff, with hand balancing and flips. It was truly awesome. And the tumblers. Oh. My. God. This should be an Olympic sport. It was infinitely more exciting than the vault, and the heights were dizzying. I'm astounded.

Speaking of Rhythmic Gymnastics (which Mindy thinks is really just dancing with a ribbon), they finally aired some during the day yesterday... until it got cut off because of technical difficulties in the middle of a performance, never to return. There are some flexible, flexible women in this sport. But there's something mildly disturbing about the team competition where young girls contort themselves into unnatural positions, whip the ground fiercely and then tie each other up with pretty pink ropes. Impressive though. Just kind of wrong.

And, not that you'd know about it from the primetime broadcast, but during the day there was a bit of a controversy swirling around the equestrian horse jumping track. Some of the jockeys (riders?) or trainers put a special illegal lotion on their equine partners which gave them extra sensitive skin which would case them pain if they hit one of the rails (and therefore lost points). I don't care what kind of crap people put into their own bodies, but I don't think the horse should be subjected to it. The poor animals have already got to deal with the dizzying brightness of the course and the distracting topiaries, and it isn't like they have a choice in the matter. Ok, I'm off the PETA soapbox for now, I'm really not that girl, but I was just irritated. I'm blaming the lack of sleep.

Which brings me to my TWoP 10 of the week, which is about the reasons we can't wait for the Olympics to be over. Much as I love the games, it's exhausting.

While you are at it, check out our vloggers Beth & Val take on the odd sports that don't really bode well for a future career.

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