Thursday, August 19, 2004

Different Way of Watching the Olympics

I've been having so much fun doing Journal posts rambling about the Olympics, but I have to take a little break from them today.  (Although, if you still want to read me on a tear, we've had a little action in the comment thread of the Blaine Wilson entry.)

But today, I didn't watch the prime time coverage (I had theatre tickets).  Knowing this, I watched the Olympics live, on the internet.  The only problem was there weren't any actual, y'know, images to watch.

I watched scores.  If you click on the official Olympics website when an event is in progress, there's a little button the right-hand side of the screen that says "live" which will lead you to a screen of live results.

And let me tell you -- for a math geek/Olympics geek like myself -- it can be pretty exciting.  Before the final rotation in the men's all-around, I was cross-referencing the athletes' scores in the qualifying and team final rounds -- to figure whether Paul Hamm had a chance based on the apparatus each guy had left to do.  (Yes, I'm my very own color commentary.)  I realized it was gonna be close and started emailing my friends about how this was gonna make damn good television, whatever happened.  And, of course, when Paul Hamm's score appeared at the top of the "live results" screen, I was just as pleased and shocked as I would have been had I watched on TV -- excepting, of course, that I didn't actually see the routine that earned the mark.

(And it wasn't just gymnastics.  I also watched swimming results this afternoon.  Was quite pleased about the women's 4x200 -- only because I was just getting geared up to make a comment about how this pool must be slow because we haven't seen a whole lot of world records fall -- and then the US team shatters the longest-standing record out there.  Woo.)

I have to admit, I have a little practice "watching" the Olympics this way -- I did it with the Sydney Games.  It was extremely frustrating to me to know that I was never experiencing anything when it was actually happening.  Watching the scores when they were really happening -- even without seeing the actual competition -- still had something going for it, knowing that when I was sitting there cheering (at 2 in the morning, watching my computer screen), it was at the same time that the audiences were cheering in Sydney.

I felt some of that today, watching the gymnastics scores pop up.  And I really felt like I was connected to the celebration in Athens when I was sharing the shock that Paul Hamm actually won this thing.

And then I came home, and watched the tail end of the competition on TV.  And Paul Hamm's high bar routine was certainly well-executed -- but seeing as I had known his score, I already knew it would be well-executed.  And since I had already seen that particular routine a couple times -- it wasn't particularly interesting viewing.  And I thought, "gee, I really didn't miss much by just watching the scores." 

And then I saw that shot of the Korean athlete with his head in his hands, as he was inconsolable at the (extremely close) loss.  And I realized, now, I've seen the whole picture.

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