Monday, August 16, 2004

Michael Phelps

I blame NBC.

Well, no, not really.  I blame the American psyche that doesn't seem to be freakin' interested in an Olympic swimming gold medalist.  We seem to only care if they're a multiple medalist.  Or even better yet, if the athlete in question is breaking records with the number of medals earned.

So NBC switches from saying "Michael Phelps can break Mark Spitz's record of 7 Olympic gold medals" to "Michael Phelps can tie Mark Spitz's record of 7 Olympic golds" to "Michael Phelps can be the first male swimmer to earn 8 medals of any color in a single Olympics."  And what's so amusing about that is that when they interviewed Phelps about that, Phelps seemed to have not even heard of that particular record and said (in classic guy-who-has-seen-Bull-Durham-fashion) that he's just taking things one event at a time.

One event at a time?  "Oh no!" cries NBC, because if Phelps is just a good natured 19-year-old who picks up a gold and few other colored medals while experiencing the fun of competition with the world's best, well, sorry, that just isn't going to bring the viewers in droves now, is it? 

And again -- it isn't really NBC's fault -- they're just doing what they know they have to do in order to get the Average American Viewer worked up over the Olympics.  Roasts my cookies that when Aaron Peirsol snags a gold in the 100m backstroke, we simply chalk that up as "another U.S. swimming gold" without even bothering to take note of who the guy is unless he's got himself even more medals to go with it.

Peeved About Diving

I caught the Olympic Trials in the 10m platform.  Interesting, they were.  The U.S. can send two divers in the 10m platform competition.  However, we did not send our top 2 divers.  This because our synchronized divers get an advantage here.  Which is to say -- the top scoring synchronized diver gets one of the two spots, no matter what. 

As it turns out, the top scoring synchronized diver was not top 2 in our trials.  (I think he was third or fourth).  But he gets to compete individually because of the advantage we give our synchronized team divers.  The kid who came in second -- who was pretty darned young -- will just have to wait another 4 years.

Was it worth it?  Our synchronized team came in 8th of 8. 

If I was that kid who came in second at the trials, I would be pretty peeved.  And I wondered -- while watching our synchro team crash & burn -- whether not sending that second-place (individual) kid to the Olympics this time will ultimately come back to bite USA Diving in the butt four years from now, when the kid maybe could have used this experience to rely on.


andreakingme said...

I'm loving your Olympic recaps, NZ. You're so thorough! Thanks.

pegluh said...

I love watching diving, but synchronized diving seems pretty dodgy to me.