I can't say for sure that the fact that there's nothing live (and a semi-final of beach volleyball does not count at all) is making my enthusiasm for the Olympics wane ever so slightly, but given that some of my favorite sports were airing last night and I wasn't screaming at the TV and cheering along, I'd say that it makes a big difference. Especially if, for instance, you are looking up how to spell a Jamaican athlete's name and just happen to see a big screaming news story that says "Nastia Liukin upset on uneven bars," like I was yesterday. This crap should have spoiler alerts in big letters. Huge. (Speaking of which, during the course of writing this post and trying to figure out how to properly spell the names of pole vaulters, I came across the results of tonight's Olympic balance beam competition. Fan-freakin'-tastic. I'm so angry right now. Not that I'm unhappy with the results, I'm just irritated to know. This is just like the Nagano Olympics and the Tara Lipinski thing all over again. Ugh.) I know it has technically been completed and therefore is not a spoiler, but I didn't have any opportunity to see it on any of the twelve channels playing Olympics all day, every day at my desk, so therefore, it is spoiler alert-worthy. So I spent the entire night basically watching the uneven bars just waiting to see the big judging scandal that has rocked the Olympic world this week.
The only good thing about it was that they had time to get Bela Karolyi and gymnastics announcer Tim Daggett to come talk about how the sport has changed with the new marking system. There was a lot of debate about how they've spent so much time trying to eliminate bias that they've forgotten about competence. Great. Can't we get unbiased and competent people to judge the Olympics? Is that too much to ask? Apparently. But Bela did raise a good point amidst all of his blustering: this new judging system doesn't engage fans at home. There is no way for them to figure out how to score along or determine really which routine was better because all the convoluted math is impossible. No more perfect 10s. Hell, Nastia couldn't even figure out why in a tie she ended up with a silver medal instead of a gold. Marta Karolyi had sheets of paper trying to explain it to Nastia and her dad. They still looked baffled. If even the people who are competing and coaching the sport are unable to figure out how the scoring works, how the hell can I figure it out without the help of a supercomputer and personal roadside assistance from Bela Karolyi? This is not to take away from the gold medal winners who are deserving or what not, but in the case of gymnastics shouldn't there be a dance-off or death match to decide the winner?
Now, despite the spoilers, I was surprised to find out a few things about the uneven bars. Nastia Liukin's mom did bother to show up. According to the announcers, she wasn't shopping during her daughter's gold-medal winning performance, she was wandering the streets of Beijing and just pacing because she was so nervous. But now it's OK for her to show up? I don't care what Mindy and other people say about how Nastia and her dad look a little weirdly cozy with their kissing on the lips, at least he's there supporting her and comforting her when she comes in second on a technicality. I also found out that the ages of the Chinese gymnasts have been verified by a number of sources. Even the announcers seem skeptical. And despite the big "scandal" about the uneven bars, there was actually another even that had a tie, men's vault, but apparently since no Americans were competing or involved in that one, it didn't matter. We pretty much watched a sped up version of the entire event. So much for unbiased reporting there.
And since my own bias is clearly towards writing about Michael Phelps and gymnastics, here's some stuff about other sports.
-- No one told me (and by that I mean I forgot to set a reminder) that synchronized swimming started last night and that it was on the Oxygen Channel of all places. How would I have known to look for it there? Thankfully, it was preliminary rounds, but you can bet your bottom dollar there'll be a hefty paragraph on the sport in tomorrow's blog.
-- They showed Trampoline, in primetime (it isn't "technically" gymnastics, it's a separate sport...) which I thought was pretty cool. Even my brother-in-law was impressed by how high they jumped.
--Speaking of my brother-in-law, watching the Olympics with a single guy was interesting. He was very focused on the beach volleyball girls and their lack of clothing and how the cameras kept zooming in on their asses. Not that he was complaining, mind you.
-- I actually watched 90 percent of the beach volleyball match live. I do not feel better for it. I still don't get the sport. But go Team USA?
-- When they weren't screaming about gymnastic judging scandals, Bob Costas and co. were up in arms about Usain Bolt and his "bad sportsmanship." They've decided he was showboating a little too much. I still think it made it more fun to watch. Dude is like a freak of nature running that fast and they are criticizing what he did and how he could do things better. Whatever. I hope he just ignores them all. I'd be so excited if I won a medal that I'd be dancing around with my ribbon like mad (because clearly rhythmic gymnastics would be my sport of choice).
-- Pole vaulter Jennifer Stuczynski has a bastard for a coach. I mean, he must be doing something right with his screaming and insulting techniques since she won a silver medal after starting the sport just four years ago, but he's a dick. When she won, instead of being like, "Hey, you came in second to the world record holder. Awesome!" he screamed out his critique of what she did wrong from the stands. There's a time and a place for it. Berating someone in the middle of the Bird's Nest stadium is not appropriate. And during Jennie's little sideline interview, she's like, "Oh, I can't wait to go see my coach and family." He must have brainwashed her. That's the only explanation.
-- I think Tiffany Ross-Williams would do even better on the hurdles if she put her hair back. This goes for that Walter Dix guy too.
-- I know it is gymnastics, but I forgot to mention how adorable Chen Yibing, the kid who won the men's rings, was. He was just smiley and happy and genuinely excited. Love that.
-- Elena Isinbaeva is gorgeous and can jump to wild heights on a pole vault without wrecking her manicure. She even took a nap on the field and made that look hot. Oh, and she won a gold medal.
-- Sprinter Lolo Jones is also amazing looking, though in a more sporty and less glamazon model kind of way . And I can actually pronounce her name. I think she may be my new girl crush.
-- During my mind-wandering phase of the evening (commercials and sprinters taking their marks) I started thinking about how many researchers must have to work on this stuff to get every single detail about all these athletes. Crazy.
-- I like that there is a sprinter who is called Batman. And it isn't because he fights off the forces of evil, but its because he has big ears and can fly across the ground. He only won bronze though. Wonder what they call winner Angelo Taylor?
-- I wonder if Susanna Kallur is OK today. The Swedish chick, who for some reason the camera men liked to zoom in on as she took deep breaths before she started running, took a pretty hard fall on the hurdles during the semifinals. I was hoping she'd win so then someone would give her an endorsement to get her teeth straightened. Poor girl. Though she's got to be less embarrassed than Anay Tejada who was in the same heat and didn't finish... not because she fell, but she just didn't even jump over a hurdle. She went around. Weird.
-- There didn't seem to be a Mary Carillo segment tonight. Either I missed it during the few minutes when my DVR decided to reboot itself (I was not pleased) or we were blissfully spared. I'm hoping for that one. Instead, at the end of the evening Bob Costas told us American viewers to hang in there even though he's heard we're tired. Really? He's heard that, huh? So he had some quack who is like the health editor for MSNBC, come up with tips, which involved wearing sunglasses to cover up red-eye and skipping work. Practical. I'm sure he was trying to be funny, but at midnight, I was not amused.
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