Watching the Olympics made me think some more about all the improvements technology has given sports. Clearly, there were the down sides of technology being used in sports (remember that horrible blue glowing puck that turned into a red streak if there was a slap shot?), but for the most part I appreciate what they’re able to do to make the viewer’s experience more enjoyable.
I’ve talked to people who don’t like the yellow line signifying the first down in football or the line indicating the line of scrimmage, but I think these are wonderful and make it so much easier to tell whether the player got the first down or not. The markers on the sidelines can’t be seen from many camera angles, but the lines are very clear and can be seen any time a player is near the line of scrimmage or first down. What’s not to like?
In the Olympics, there have been many advances. The flags in the pool and track & field lanes showed up in the last Summer Olympics (or perhaps in Sydney). It’s so nice to see at the start of each race which lanes are occupied by swimmers/runners/rowers of each country and to see which country is ahead every time they reach a turn in the pool. Of course, seeing the flags as each swimmer or boat end the race with the 1, 2, & 3 by them popping up as they finish is very nice. You immediately know who got the gold, silver, and bronze medals in the race without having to wait for the results to show up in the complete list.
This year’s addition of the world record time line in swimming was greatly appreciated. Each time Michael Phelps and the many others broke world records, you could see how much they were ahead of the line. It made the races more exciting, since it was often clear who was going to win. Not all of the races were as close as the 4×100 relay when Lezak had his amazing finish or the 400m butterfly race where it looked like Phelps might not get the 8 for 8 gold medals he aimed to attain. The ones that weren’t were made more interesting by seeing the world record pace line chasing the swimmers (or the swimmers chasing it).
I do wonder why a world record line could not be used for the track world records. I’d love to see that line going around the track as the races are going on. I realize that initially the lanes are staggered, but I’d think that they could do a diagonal line or just do a straight line that approximates where the world record would be (have it in line with the time for the middle lane, perhaps). Hopefully, this will be something they add in the London Summer Olympics of 2012.
Tags: flags, Hockey, Michael Phelps, NHL, Olympics, swimming, technology, track & field, world record
Last night’s Olympics coverage had some of the most shocking footage (to me) so far in the Olympics. Although perhaps they should have given Haley Ishimatsu (the 15-year-old diver who just missed qualifying for the platform diving, coming in 14th when the top 12 advanced) a bit more time before her interview, I understand wanting to talk to her before she left for the night. Surprisingly, the reporter asking Haley how it felt to be so close to qualifying and not make it seemed touched moved by Haley’s tears and tried to comfort her. I was shocked. It was nice to see a reporter for NBC seem to care about the feelings of one of the athletes at the Olympics. Normally, it seems like they’re cold-hearted and actually enjoy asking questions like “So, you just missed getting the gold by 1/1000 of a second – how do you feel?” and concentrating on the negative side, rather than saying something like “You just won the silver medal, beating out tons of other athletes – how do you feel?” I appreciate the fact that one of the reporters actually came across as caring about an athlete. I’m sure it won’t last, but it was a nice touch.
The men’s volleyball match against Italy yesterday was definitely exciting. I know that the USA wasn’t expected to win and it was a huge upset, but clearly I was rooting for the USA and was going nuts watching them. I’d be rooting for them anyway, but with UCI’s men’s volleyball coach (John Speraw) there as an assistant coach to the team, I really want them to do well! I’m excited that the men’s volleyball team moved on to the medal round and I hope to see them play for the gold. Go USA!
Of course, watching the women’s beach volleyball finals wasn’t too surprising. I figured Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor would win the gold and be the first team to win back-to-back gold medals in the Olympics (teams often aren’t even the same from Olympics to Olympics, it seems). I’m so happy that they were able to achieve their dream and move on with their lives now, though I’ll miss them in London if they’re too busy with their families to participate. They’re a lot of fun to watch on the AVP tour and in the Olympics. I did think that the Chinese team might win one of the sets against May-Treanor and Walsh. They are a very good team. It’s amazing to me that May-Treanor and Walsh were able to get through two entire Olympics without losing a single set. They did face set points against other teams, but they never actually lost a single set to another team in the Olympics. That’s amazing.
Usain Bolt broke the 200m world record Michael Johnson set in the Atlanta Summer Olympics in 1996. Many felt that Johnson’s record was untouchable, but Bolt proved them wrong. Even people who aren’t interested in track & field seem interested in world records being broken.
Those who were talking about all the excitement being over when Michael Phelps was done swimming and the gymnastics had ended are really missing out on the volleyball, beach volleyball, diving, track & field and many other sports that are still going on (it’d take too long to list them all). I can understand the people who are sick of hearing about the “Redeem Team” and not being interested in basketball (I feel the same), but there are tons of other sports to watch – even BMX racing, which can be kind of fun to watch. The gymnastics showcase pieces are enjoyable, too. It’s good to see the athletes relax after winning their medals and have fun out there. I realize I’m not biased, since I’m clearly addicted to the Olympics, but a lot of world records have been broken in Beijing and many are starting to argue what I believe (that Michael Phelps is the greatest Olympian of all time – he’s only 23 and he’s already surpassed the lifelong totals of everyone who’s ever participated in the Olympic games – imagine what he can do since he’s not done in the Olympics yet). How can one not be interested in the Olympics with so much happening?
Tags: beach volleyball, diving, gymnastics, interview, John Speraw, Kerri Walsh, Michael Phelps, Misty May-Treanor, NBC, Olympics, reporters, swimming, track & field, volleyball, world record
The final night of gymnastics event finals was certainly exciting. It was great to see Shawn Johnson finally get a gold medal and having Shawn and Nastia finish 1-2 in the opposite order was nice. It’s actually what I expected on floor the night before and I was so happy to see the scores. When Cheng Fei’s score of 15.950 was displayed for balance beam when she had almost fallen off, I was very worried that the judges were determined to score another gymnastics event horribly and I would be disappointed by the end results. However, I ended up happy with the results for the first two spots. The fact that Cheng Fei got the bronze medal is horrible for Anna Pavlova of Russia. Pavlova came in 4th place with 15.900 and I don’t think I’m alone in believing that she deserved the bronze medal. Russia finished the 2008 Olympics without a single medal in gymnastics. I doubt anyone would have predicted that before the competition began.
Jonathan Horton’s performance on high bar was amazing and I was surprised that the crowd actually booed when his score of 16.175 (putting him in 2nd place) behind Zou Kai of China’s 16.2. It seems a lot of people there agreed with me and thought Horton should have gotten a higher score on execution. I think the execution score of 9.275 was a bit low, even though it was higher than Zou’s execution. What is it about high bar judging? The 2004 Summer Olympics’ high bar scores are what caused the uproar that led to the scoring system change. Remember when Alexei Nemov had to try to calm the crowd down after his horrible score before Paul Hamm competed? The great part of this year’s high bar competition is that Horton was clearly thrilled to get an individual medal and he knew that he did a great job on his routine and couldn’t have done much better. It’s always good to see Olympians truly enjoying the moment and last night was a great night for the US gymnastics team.
The China vs. China women’s beach volleyball match early yesterday morning was amazing. The one team goes on to play Misty May-Treanor & Kerri Walsh in the finals, the other plays for the bronze. I’d be surprised if the Chinese teams don’t get two of the three medals in beach volleyball. I’m guessing silver and bronze, since I can’t see May-Treanor & Walsh losing their first match in about a year in the gold medal match. Both medal matches should be very exciting.
The USA women’s volleyball team upset Italy in a great match yesterday to advance to the semifinals. They definitely seemed like they didn’t have what it takes to beat Italy for a while, but came back to win the last two sets decisively (25-18 & 15-6) and advance. Hopefully, they’ll have what it takes to make it to the gold medal finals. Clearly, I wish all the US teams well, but I’m particularly interested in the men’s volleyball team, since one of the assistant coaches (John Speraw) is UCI’s men’s volleyball head coach and I go to as many of UCI’s matches as I can. After the tragedy the USA men’s volleyball head coach had to endure, it would be really nice to see a bit of an up side for him and for the men’s team to win gold. They’ve been looking very good so far.
I don’t know of anyone who watched Lolo Jones in the 100m hurdles who didn’t want to cry when they watched her hit the 9th hurdle. She was pretty far ahead of the pack and doing so well. Then, all of a sudden, she clipped the 9th hurdle and dropped behind to finish next to last. The fact that she was still able to pull herself together enough to finish the race (and not even come in last) is amazing to me. My heart went out to her (and her family) as they cried when her dreams of a gold medal were destroyed. Lolo’s 26 years old, so perhaps she can try again in the London Olympics in 2012, but it’s so sad to see someone doing that well and being completely at the top of her game and then faltering.
I just bought a copy of last week’s Sports Illustrated with Michael Phelps on the cover swimming. I haven’t read it all yet, but I did flip through and it’s almost all Olympics coverage. If you love the Olympics you should definitely pick up a copy while they’re still available. The Sports Illustrated where Phelps recreated the Mark Spitz cover (for more information, click here, supposedly hit news stands today, but my local book store gets the new issues on Friday, so I can’t comment on that issue yet. I’m sure it’s mostly Olympics coverage, too.
Tags: beach volleyball, gymnastics, Jonathan Horton, Kerri Walsh, Lolo Jones, Mark Spitz, Michael Phelps, Misty May-Treanor, Nastia Liukin, NBC, Olympics, Paul Hamm, Shawn Johnson, Sports Illustrated, swimming, track & field, volleyball
Like many gymnastics fans, I could talk about the reasons I disagree with the judging in the Olympics until the end of time. However, anything that is judged is subjective and some people will see breaks in form where others will not. I think the point about the countries with the best gymnasts not having anyone judge the competition to avoid bias is also hurting the judging. I thought that was why they had judges from various countries and dropped the low and high before averaging. The countries with the best gymnasts probably also have the best judges, right? Perhaps they should make sure that there is ALWAYS at least one judge from each country with a gymnast in the competition. They’re dropping low and high, so it should still work out even if the judges are biased, right? I’m sure everyone who’s been watching the Olympics could talk about their ideas to improve the judging, but I’m not sure there’s a really good solution to the problem.
All potential judging errors aside, I think it’s horrible that when there are ties in gymnastics they don’t give out two gold medals (or whatever medal they tied). Why? They used to give out two of the appropriate medal. I think they should go back to that policy. Poor Nastia looked heart broken. How is limiting the number of judges that give you the number making the judging better and able to break the tie? When you drop out the second lowest score and take the average, the person who got the two LOWEST scores out of the two who are tied is the one who wins. How is that the correct solution to the tie? At least in the vault (where the men tied) the solution makes a bit more sense. Of course, the gymnast with the highest score on one of his vaults is also the gymnast with the lowest score out of one of the two vaults or the averages would not be the same. So, again, one has to wonder if this is the right way to solve the problem of ties in gymnastics.
I vote for going back to both getting the medal and everyone being happy. Awarding two gold medals and one bronze totally works for me. I can’t remember ever being this annoyed with gymnastics scoring. They’ve been using this scoring for 3 years, but there have never been problems like this. Do they do things differently in the Olympics somehow or is it just luck (or lack thereof) of the draw? A scoring system allowing someone performing a vault horribly to get a medal and someone who performs a vault almost perfectly to finish out of the medal race when she had the best execution score needs to be examined more closely.
Side note on Track & Field – I could not believe Jenn Stuczynski (the American pole vaulter)’s coach. She’s only been pole vaulting for 4 years and she’s won silver, coming in second to the best pole vaulter in the history of the sport and she’s a disappointment? I understand wanting to win gold, but perhaps he should be a bit more realistic. Jenn had just won silver. She beat out everyone in the competition except for the woman who’s been dominating the sport for years. How about congratulating her for a job well done? I thought the reporters had been rude during the last couple Olympics, but for a coach to treat his athlete like that is embarrassing! I hope he has apologized by now.
Tags: commentators, fans, gymnastics, judging, Nastia Liukin, NBC, Olympics, rude, ties, track & field