Tuesday, August 24, 2004
The fluff skyrockets! NBC protests! But the Rockwood
2004 Olympic Watch judges are having none of that. There is precedent
for their low score. Denied!
- We open tonight with quarterfinal heats in the
Men's 200-meter dash. Shawn Crawford for the U.S. was impressive was
impressive, but how about 36-year-old Frank Frederick of Namibia finishing
second? Give it up for the old guy!
- Justin Gatlin, 100-meter dash winner and now
title holder of "fastest man in the world," gets 30 seconds
of flashy editing about how he has different strategies for running
the 100-meters and 200-meters. We never really get to find out what
they are. Personally, I would much rather hear about these differing
strategies than see an overexposed, slow-motion close-up of Justin.
- Ads. Can I really trust Michael
Biehn to be a
cop in "Hawaii?" I mean, what if he decides that crime has run rampant
on the island? I fear he'll just take off and nuke it from orbit. It's
the only way to be sure.
- And now, on to why the fluff count is so high.
Tonight Al, Tim, and Elfie get their last digs in on gymnastics as
we all get to pay tribute to the medal winning gymnasts in the "Champions
Gala." Why don't they just call it the "Ratings Boosting Gala?" Look,
I understand that NBC makes their money back on gymnastics, but let's
be honest. This is in no way an event. It exists solely to get ratings.
If there were tributes in other sports, I might be a little more forgiving
of this sort of thing. After all, who wouldn't want to see the "Champions
Gala" in boxing? But to dedicate over 20 minutes of the broadcast to
gymnasts giving half-efforts is disgraceful to the Olympics themselves.
I'm sure Juan Antonio Samaranch would be terribly upset if he wasn't
so busy rolling in piles of crookedly-acquired money.
Just to give you an idea of why this ends up as fluff, here are some
of the other sports that got played today that we didn't even get an
update on because we had to watch Carly Patterson come out and flub
her floor exercise:
Women's volleyball, men's handball, equestrian team jumping, synchronized
swimming, field hockey, sailing, canoeing, women's water polo, track
cycling (my personal favorite), boxing, and baseball. Those are eleven
events that we could have spent a mere two minutes each on if we hadn't
had to watch the "Champions Gala."
Oh, and one more thing. It was hard to tell in the darkened arena,
but there were a lot of empty seats for the "Champions Gala." Even
the locals knew to stay away!
- "Chevrolet Olympic Moments" with Jimmy
Roberts today picks on Greco-Roman wrestler Rulon Gardner, who had
story in the 2000 Olympics. How good, you ask? I'll illustrate.
To accurately measure times for the Olympic Watch, I record every
night's broadcasts and then use the clock on the VCR to determine
the times. This way, if I miss part of a broadcast, I can go back
and watch it afterwards. Anyway, usually I just record over the previous
night's show, as I don't really have any reason to save 17 tapes
full of Olympic coverage. However, to this day I still have the recording
I made of the night that Rulon Gardner won his gold medal. I can't
bear to record over it.
Anyway, Jimmy tells us all about what Gardner has been through since
the Olympics, which is just about as amazing as him winning the gold
in the first place. Rulon lost a toe after being stranded in the
freezing wilderness from a snowmobile accident, then he suffered
a wrist injury in a motorcycle accident (Rulon, for God's sake, stay
Jimmy actually did a pretty good job on this segment. Although, maybe
that's just because there's actual drama in this story, whereas in
most of the stories he does, he tries to create it. Regardless, it's
- Greco-Roman wrestling with Rulon Gardner. He
- On to beach volleyball, where maybe Misty May
and Kerri Walsh can finally win that gold medal that NBC has so decreed
that they should have won already.
You know what? This sounds a lot
like I'm picking on May and Walsh. I'm not. They really are incredible
players, and they did win the gold. Furthermore, they both sang during
the medal ceremony, and I thought for sure that Kerri Walsh was going
to bust out of her skin she was so excited.
NBC really did a good job of covering this, and the women deserved
to win. I guess I just would have enjoyed it a little more if it wouldn't
have seemed so preordained. But then, maybe it was. May and Walsh didn't
lose a match over the entire Olympics. Let's just give congratulations
all the way around, shall we?
- Off to the Men's 400-meter hurdles and 30 seconds
of fluff, where U.S. competitor James Carter thinks he's being disrespected
other athletes. Or something. James, James, James...just run your race,
okay? Win and you'll get all the respect you want.
- Back at the "Champions Gala," Al Trautwig
says that tonight is "just for fun," and after someone doesn't
stick a landing he says, "we don't have to care about the start
value or the step."
You know what, Al? We don't have to care about the "Champions
- Ads. Another Nike "Speed" commercial, this time
featuring Serena Williams. Nike is now three-for-three in picking
for their ads who didn't make the Olympics in their respective sports.
I find this amusing.
- One last trip to the "Champions Gala." Igor
Cassina of Italy gets back on the high bar, where he medalled last
falls off. Al says "it tells you a lot about him that he'll miss
it when there's no pressure on him, but when everything was on the
he hit it."
Really? What does that tell us, Al? Does it tell us that he got lucky
last night? Maybe he usually falls off and last night was a fluke?
Or maybe it tells us that he, like any right-minded person, thinks
the "Champions Gala" isn't worth his time or effort. How about a "Champions
Gala" in archery? They could shoot apples off of each other's heads!
- Over to the pool we go for some springboard diving.
Oh, if only Al Trautwig had been here instead of at the "Champions
Gala" he would have finally got to see the 10.0s he wanted so badly.
Chinese diver Peng Bo gets five 10.0s on one of his dives. The Canadian
diver immediately after him does the same dive and looks almost as
good, but analyst Cynthia Potter notes that he'll probably score slightly
lower. Slightly lower than five 10.0s? Ya think?
- Lest you think I'm being too hard on Cynthia,
let me tell you about some of the things she's doing right. The Russian
diver, 30-year-old Dmitry Sautin, consistently performed dives that
were of lower difficulty than the rest of the field. Cynthia noted
that he chose these dives because he knew he could perform them well,
and said that was a good strategy for him. And later, Cynthia pointed
out on the replay the moment when Sautin would look at the diving board
while descending so he would know how far above the water he was. It's
little details like this that make excellent analysts.
- A couple of minutes of fluff on Mexican runner
Ana Guevara, the 400-meter world champion who's inspiring other women
in Mexico to break out of their traditional roles. You know, this sounds
like it would have fit perfectly in Jimmy
Roberts' story the other night about how women are making a big
splash at these Olympics. But then, Jimmy really doesn't care too much
about substance. He only cares about how he makes you feel. And
Guevara? Well, her real-life inspirational story was just too hard
to work into the inspirational story that Jimmy was writing.
- Hicham El Guerrouj of Morocco is in his third
Olympics. In 1996, he was favored to win the 1500-meter race when he
was tripped and ended up in 12th place. In 2000, he was again the favorite,
but was overtaken right near the end by Kenyan Noah Ngeny and he had
to take silver. Tonight might be the last chance for this world record
holder to win an Olympic medal!
Sounds like fluff, doesn't it? But yet, this was all told to us by
the announcers mere moments before the race. I'd never heard of El
Guerrouj before tonight and there I was cheering him on at the end.
See, NBC? You don't have to waste our time with fluff if the story
is good enough.
Oh, and he won, by the way.
- Oh no! Bob Costas has gone fluffy on us! What
I thought was going to be an update on the Iraqi soccer team, instead
turned into a fluff piece. There was some actual event footage
from earlier today, so I'm not dooming the entire six minutes to fluff,
but still, did we really need to be inspired one more time by the success
of the Iraqis? NBC thinks so.
- Bob closes by telling us one more tale
of Hicham El Guerrouj. In 1996, when he was tripped, the king of
Morocco called him and said that "you are still a champion." Today,
after he finally won gold, the new king of Morocco called and was
A king says "super-happy?" Okay. Well, in any case, we're sure
the king will do the right thing for El Guerrouj. Perhaps he'll even
hold a celebration for him. They could call it the "Champions Gala."
With no pre-planned "Champions Gala"-type fluff
foreseen, I'm still looking forward to the rest of the games, but NBC
slipped a little tonight. Hopefully tomorrow will be better.
2004 Brian Lundmark, all images and text on this page.
All rights reserved. Tell
me about it!