Lots of fun with visualization. NYTimes puts all the medal winners of the modern olympics in 100m on one track, calibrated to the Olympic Record.
Here’s a suggestion for NBC, though: How about celebrating this group of American gymnasts, perhaps the greatest ever, by explaining to Americans exactly what makes them so great? I’m not a lifelong gymnastics fan—true gymnerds refer to the rest of us as “Four-Year Fans”—but earlier this year I spent several months engrossed in the sport while writing about Biles. I now consider myself safely in the ninetieth percentile of gymnastics comprehension, meaning that I understand about ten per cent of what is going on. But every bit I’ve learned has made the sport wildly more interesting to watch. On Sunday, for instance, I watched the qualifying round with two Four-Year Fans and was able to pass along an insight that Biles’s coaches have pointed out many times, but that NBC didn’t. As good as Biles is on her world-beating Amanar—a vault in which she twists two and a half times while flipping through the air—she will never get a perfect score because of the tiniest flaw: she crosses her toes.
This is the kind of information we might expect to learn from NBC’s broadcasts. There’s no questioning the credentials of the network’s analysts: Tim Daggett won a team gold medal at the 1984 Olympics, and Nastia Liukin won the individual all-around in 2008. But their expertise is often muted by the strictures of a prime-time broadcast. “My producer always puts a note card in front of me, like, ‘Talk to Madeleine in Middle America, who doesn’t know gymnastics,’ ”
This, all of this. The Olympics are a time when a bunch of unusual sports end up on the air. It is an opportunity to help us understand them and get excited about them. People get excited about things they understand, and can tell what a good / bad / great performance looks like.
I remember sitting in a hotel room in Sydney in 2000, because the Olympics actually started, watching a cricket match. I had no idea what I was watching. I turned to my friend Dylan and said “ok, we’ve been in Australia for a month, we’re going to figure this out.” And with a laptop up searching the internet while watching, we figuring out enough of the basics that we could see what a good or terrible performance looked like. And it was so much more interesting to watch.
For all the gripe people gave to NBC on their coverage, I have to say I was pretty happy with it overall. When you look at the coverage across NBC, USA, CNBC, and MS-NBC it really seemed like they air more hours of unique coverage than during the Beijing Summer games, and a large portion (at least on the cable networks) was live. We had our DVR with 2 tuners almost constantly running and gathering the games.
My love of curling was rekindled, and I got to watch a lot of it during these games. While it was a bummer that the Americans didn’t do very well, the medal rounds were just incredible. The spontaneous outbreak of “Oh Canada” before the 8th rock of the final end in the men’s gold medal match was amazing. I didn’t watch much hockey, except for the gold medal match, which was definitely the best game I’ve ever seen.
To me, the most surprising thing of the Olympics was how much x-country skiing was aired, and how much I enjoyed watching it. The men’s 30 km pursuit was an incredible race. When I saw they were showing it live, I never thought they’d stick around for the whole thing, but they did. With the snow arriving this past week, it helped inspire us to get out to Fahnestock for some skiing of our own.
No Olympics will ever be the same to me as the Sydney games, which I got to experience both in person, and with Australian TV coverage that was live 8am – 11pm every day. However, I really think that with NBC’s use of their cable networks so extensively, we got much closer to that this time around. I’m hoping that isn’t a one off, and that we see that again in the future.
With a living room full of people, and a kitched full of food, we had quite the Super Bowl Party last night. At least a few of it are paying for it with our voices this morning. There are many folks more eloquent than I that will describe what happened last night, but I think that the entire night can be boiled down into the incredible play in Eli’s last drive.
On 3rd and 10, with no one open, the pocket starts to collapse on Eli. The hearts of all the giants fans in the room sink as we expect the inevitable sack. The Eli breaks the tackle, and another one, and another one. Some how he manages to break free completely and throw a 20 yard pass up the middle, caught in the most tenuous maner I’ve ever seen (one hand and a helmet). At that point you realized something, the Giants were not going to let anyone count them out. Eli believed he could win. Everything the Giants did in the last 3 minutes of the game showed that at the end of the day, they just wanted it more.
What an incredible game!