Rio by the See-O
Track & field has happily started, and NBCsn began covering it in the morning. The main event was the women's 5000m, which Ethiopian Almaz Alayan won. But the bigger news was not just that she broke the World Record -- or that it was record that had stood for 23 years...but she crushed it by a stunning 14 seconds.
One thing about the coverage was worth noting. You may recall the other day that I was disappointed NBC didn't use on-screen graphics to keep the viewer informed during swimming races what the status of the race was. As it happens, they did precisely that in the 5K race. Whenever the lead runner crossed the starting line each time around the track, they showed a graphic of how many laps were left. Yet unfortunately they haven't done this during swims, which it's critical even in short races, particularly because the perspective is more of a challenge.
But -- good news! In the evening, I noticed that they did actually start doing this with the swimming, too! O huzzah. After each length of the pool, they quickly showed how many meters have been completed (and in the longer races, even added how many meters were left to go...though that's easy to figure out by subtraction.) So, I'm glad that the people at NBC are reading my articles! Now, if they could do something about bringing back Teddy Atlas on boxing...
There's an insignificant, but amusing thing to notice during track & field. Because the field is so large, the organizer have a remote-controlled toy car that zips around, clearly carrying information from one area to another, where you can see an official pick up whatever is being sent.
Other than the players themselves, I think that NBC is who's most upset by the U.S. women's soccer team losing and getting knocked out of the competition by Sweden. Not that I especially care if a network is bothered, but women's soccer on TV is very popular, especially with the team having won the most recent World Cup. And I'm sure that NBC expected high ratings for their Olympic games -- which now do not exist. And I suspect that they thought this interest would also translate into solid ratings for games by the competition. But now those will likely be less-watched, as well. The team was very lackluster in the three games I watched, unable to generate much offense. The late, easy "between-the-legs" goal scored against them by Colombia to tie their previous game was brushed off as not important, one of Those Things That Happen. I thought that was a bit cavalier. It turned out to be.
After the game, controversial figure Hope Solo -- the goalie who had let the ball through her legs and shrugged it off -- wrote a controversial Facebook posting, calling the Swedes "cowards" for their conservative style of play. There was more back-and-forth, until finally the Swedish coach, Pia Sundhage, was asked for a comment. Sundhage had been the U.S. coach, and largely much-liked (including by me), though had a tough relationship with some of the players, including Solo, and said so after she left. He reply to Solo's comments were simple: "I don't give a crap. We're going to Rio, they're going home."
It almost turned out a double-dip of sure-thing loses for the U.S. The men's basketball team went down to the last shot, which Serbia missed for the tie, to squeak by 94-91.The Americans had been up by as much by 18 points, but played lackluster after that point and let Serbia come by with impressive team play.
Oh, and it is just inexplicably bizarre to see how otherworldly far ahead of the field Katie Ladecky is. You see a close-up on her swimming, and then they cut back to a long shot, and until they widen far enough, you don't even see who is in second place.
Which leads to this hilarious tweet for the local NBC TV station in Richmond, Virginia --
Finally, here's another featurette from my friend, NBC Olympics producer Clare Duffy a behind-the-scenes look at one of their cameramen. It's quite nice, but then comes with a great, unexpected twist. I can't embed from the NBC site, but here's the direct link to the video.
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Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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