Not that the British and the city of London haven’t already had their moment in the sun. As the opening ceremony was, well very British. British literature, British music, British history, British stars, and very well done. Just some things may have been missed for those that aren’t anglophiles. And there was sunshine – so the opening ceremony was quite literally Britain’s moment in the sun.
With that, the Games were officially open with competition beginning Saturday morning – and almost immediately began to go "off script". Britain’s men shocked the Chinese by beating them in the qualifying round of artistic gymnastics. Ryan Lochte upset Michael Phelps in the 400IM – as Phelps failed to medal. Brazilian Sarah Menezes won her country’s first ever hold medal in judo. The French won the 400 meter freestyle relay – coming from behind the US no less – while favored Australia was shut out of the medals. Spain was eliminated from men’s soccer medal contention by Honduras. Jordyn Wieber got edged out of qualifying for the women’s all around in gymnastics. And St Kitts sprinter Tameka Williams became another track and field shopping tragedy before the first rounds have a chance to get under way. The Olympic motto for this Games should follow that of television’s "Big Brother", expect the unexpected.
Perhaps the most unexpected thing by the athletes so far however, was Sunday’s gathering of US track and field athletes on Twitter to protest the rules that hamper their sponsorship ability by tweeting: "I’m proud to be an Olympian, but #WeDemandChange, #Rule40".To whit many on Twitter criticized as not doing anything about their problems. While that singular tweeting protest may not bring change on it’s own, it does signify that the athletes are beginning to form a united front. And THAT I believe is the first step towards change. The athletes must be united to go through the steps necessary to effect change, and this is the first sign I’ve seen in decades that that type of unity may be in the offing, so stay tuned. I suggest they adopt the song "Sick and Tired" by Nappy Roots as their theme song.
Back to the Games. I’m enjoying the live streaming that NBC is offering – to a point. Because, of course they still have to act like NBC, which means they didn’t stream the opening ceremony live, so we here on the West Coast were the last people on the planet to actually see it. And while there is a video archive if you failed to catch something live, and its going to be part of NBCs primetime package it isn’t on the archive – they’re doing their best to force us to watch prime time. After all this time they still haven’t figured out that real fans will tune in to see great competition no matter how many times it’s made available! I am glad I figured this out before track and field started however because I would have been highly upset to think I could miss something by say 20 or 30 minutes expecting to log on and watch only to be frustrated because I’ll have to wait hours later to see it – as happened to me with Phelps & Lochte! As much as the Olympics are the ultimate global event, NBC continues to behave as if it’s THEIR event – and even given live streaming they will dole it out to us as they see fit.
The live streaming also let’s me know just how much NBC has been screwing us out of coverage. I’m finding some sports like judo, fencing and archery quite entertaining. Suddenly I find NBCs TV coverage very limiting given they focus on three or four events a day with other sports thrown in here and there. I mean, basketball and soccer being shown around the clock is nice, but there is so much more going on – and finally with the live streaming we can tap into that. So if you haven’t tried the online streaming do so – especially before track and field starts. Because I can tell you now after spending the weekend trying to get a feel for these Games that most of the track and field will be lost in the prime time shows, and the only way to really get to the action will be through the live streaming. That also means adjusting to London time – which I’ve been trying to do this weekend – because all the good stuff will be happening in London time. Now I just have to figure out how to download the coverage I want to save to my computer, shh.
Finally I will say that something is missing from these Games. They don’t have that oomph, tha excitement, that aura that one expects of the Olympics. I’d like to think it’s because track and field hasn’t started yet, but we’ve started swimming and gymnastics, and they’re "core" sports too. I haven’t put my finger on it yet, but the Games are almost dull. Phelps v Lochte should’ve felt like must see TV, but somehow didn’t. The relays lacked drama and excitement. And of course the rain. The opening ceremony had sunshine, but once again there was rain through the weekend, and that put a damper on some of the outdoor events – at least for me.
I was upset that track and field didn’t start things off the bat, and can barely wait until the first events. The rosters of all the teams that are entered are finally out. Athletes have been suspended. Some have new injuries. So much has been going on. So now it’s time to figure out my list of “Must See TV Events” – or maybe that should be a Must See Online list – and perhaps adjust my thinking on a few events here and there as more information continues to flow.
By the way, if that missing oomph does turn out to be track and field – we show up, fill the stands and bring down the house – then I know that we’re truly missing the mark for three out of every four years and we have a bigger problem that I thought. Either way, it’s time to get focused on track and field and these Olympic Games.