I spent much of the morning watching the road cycling, an event I tend to enjoy, including when it's the Tour de France. It's unique among sporting events, where the athletes are competing across the countryside, and such rides make for a particularly beautiful contest. The thing is, though, that I don't begin to understand road cycling. Not a clue. I don't know what the point of the peleton is. I don't know what time trials accomplish. I don't really quite know why they have teams, who don't really compete but seem to support one person, except that they're generally behind that person. I've listened to the explanation, I've read articles, and...I still don't understand it. But I like it. I enjoy watching the rides, I enjoy listening to the commentary. But to me it's sort of like opera -- the singing is glorious, the pageantry is magnificent, but I don't have a clue what they're saying.
Pretty good swimming coverage, and I think Rowdy Gaines does a solid job with analysis, but he's got to tone down the excited screaming. While he comes across as a bit more of a homer for the U.S. than I care for, he tends to appreciate when swimmers for other countries do well.
It's really hard not to like U.S. swimmer Katie Ledecky. Not that there's any particular reason anyone would want to, but you'd have to try incredibly hard if that was your interest. And you'd still probably fail. Quite a great swimmer, on top of it all.
Al Trautwig does a solid, extremely respectable job as the anchor for gymnastics, a tough job (like anchoring figure skating), since most people other than gymnasts really know the specifics are to look for. I think Tim Daggitt is quite good with his analysis, fairly detailed and well-presented, and reasonably objective. Not crazy about the the commentary from Nastia Lukin. To be clear, I don't think she's not bad at all, and has some very passable analysis, but it's a bit surface, and she's not adding enough insight that makes the job substantive. She describe more of the what than the why. However, it's in the early stages, so perhaps she'll grow into it as the competition goes on, since the foundation is there.
I'm still not quite sure what to make of the late night coverage. In the past, it's been a very good in-studio show serving as a good recap of the day with interviews and featurettes, along with competition coverage -- and hosted by someone whose foundation is sports. From what little I've seen (since it's on very late and went on for a long time...), it appears to be mostly competition coverage, with some occasional interviews interspersed. But I don't know if that's the case or fully what they're doing. I'm not yet sold on Ryan Seacrest as a wise choice to handle the show, though he had a passable interview of a swimmer. Not substantive on sports, but he handled the personal aspect okay.
When you watch as much TV coverage of the Olympics as I do, you tend to see a whole lot of commercials which get repeatedly endlessly. We're only a couple days in, but thus far my favorite ads are those with Kristen Bell for the upcoming TV series, The Good Place. Not only does the show look charming and very funny (though I'm not completely sure how the premise will develop), but Kristen Bell -- who I love, in general -- looks adorable and hilarious. (I also like the United Airline ads with Olympic athletes, a follow-up to their successful one four years ago, though I think the first one was better.) As for my least favorite ad at this point, it's the utterly pretentious one with Carrie Underwood standing alone in the dark, singing "Ooooohhh, Sunday" for NFL football as if it's a sacred religious experience. I know it is for some people, but...it's not.
Here's another lovely Rio Olympics video from producer Clare Duffy, this time with NBC reporter Anne Thompson. So many of the videos being done by the network get overlooked amid all the vast airtime across the Many Networks of NBC, so when I can single a few out, all the better. This one tells the charming story of a father and son who have helped change lives through, of all things, badminton, as the young man qualified for the Olympics in his home town of Rio. Unfortunately, the NBC website only let me Share the videos on social media, not embed them, but you can check it out here.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
Feedspot Badge of Honor