Monday, July 30, 2012

Strength and Disappointment


The Main Blurb
If anyone assumes that men’s gymnastics is exactly like women’s gymnastics, they can’t be more further from the truth. Although both sports require power, strength, and finesse, both emphasize different aspects.

The women’s area requires much more finesse. Ladies are usually very small (which is usually why most gymnasts are under the age of 20), and their tumbling and leaping skills are important for all four of their events.

Men, on the other hand, is all about power. There are six apparatus for the men, and most of them are about the upper body strength. Still rings, pommel horse, and parallel bars all demand holding up your body by your hands. You’ll rarely find a men’s gymnast with a small frame. Normally they are all upper body.

I actually enjoy watching men’s gymnastics more than women’s – but not just because I’m a woman. I can’t get over the raw strength and power that these men show!  Could you do a handstand as you’re suspended eight feet in the air and you’re just holding two rings?

Unfortunately, today my admiration for men’s gymnastics was tarnished by two different things: 1) The American men stunk up the joint, and 2) The streaming on my computer kept crashing when it started to air an ad. Which was a lot – because it’s NBC and all they think about is ad money. I was shocked to see how dismal their routines looked – they were hitting the pommel horse, they were stepping off to the sides (or sitting!) in their vaults, and their finesse routines didn’t have enough difficulty to get them back in it. They finished fifth.

I was saddened to hear about the appeal of the Japanese to reconsider the starting difficulty and have it be accepted. But I wasn’t sad for Great Britain – shape up Brits: they were still on the medal stand! I was sad for the Ukranian team! No one had talked about their potential for a medal, and they went out there and did everything they could. They had the bronze in their grasp, and it was taken away when the Japanese were placed second.

And what did I tell you on Saturday about the Chinese?! I’m just going to get a banner or something and hang it outside my window that says “I WAS RIGHT!” They rebounded from that atrocious performance on Saturday to win the gold. I knew that was going to happen. I didn’t want it to happen, but I knew it would.

Enough about gymnastics – it’s making me depressed.

Mini Blurbs
Matt Grevers and Missy Franklin got my memo from yesterday – both of them won golds in the 100-m backstroke. Bonus win: Nick Thoman won silver! Rebecca Soni couldn’t outtouch Ruta Meilutyte, so she had to settle for silver in her case. And Ryan Lochte? You better shape up or think of better excuses for your less than stellar performances the past two days.

I would have really enjoyed the mass scoring that took place in the women’s water polo match against Hungary, except for that ear-piercing whistle that kept blowing every ten seconds. That just hurt too much.

Women’s volleyball was fun to watch, though – they beat Brazil three games to one. I would much rather watch indoor volleyball than beach volleyball – for more reasons than the obvious.

I always thought the national teams were all supposed to have the same or incredibly similar uniforms. Rebecca Soni has been wearing a gray swimsuit while some men have worn all black and sometimes have a flag on the sides. And what’s with the gray podium warmups? Is it to distinguish ourselves from the British? And why wasn’t Kim Rhode (skeet shooter) wearing the gray warmup when she accepted her gold medal? Let’s act unified here, Team USA. Right now I’m not feeling it.

Something fun to watch has been rowing – not to watch the rowers, but to watch the bikers that are riding at the same speed as the rowers! How do they keep the pace and not run into anything? I’d love to be one of those bikers.

Got to watch a little kayak action today, which is pretty much the Summer’s answer to Winter’s slalom skiing. As I watched it, I wondered, “This is what is preempting live coverage of gymnastics?”

Speaking of preempting/delay/primetime coverage, I read an excellent article about why NBC is living in ancient times when it comes to airing Olympic events. In summary, we Americans expect to hear news immediately – whether it is by the Internet, phone, or television. Sports is news. So when we are forced to find alternative means to get our sports news immediately, or are forced to wait till the sun is going down, we aren’t happy. Unfortunately, most of us can’t scramble addresses online to get coverage from other countries’ feeds, so we have to wait till primetime. And because of that, NBC’s numbers have been huge the past couple of days. So no matter how much people complain, NBC is proving through ratings that keeping their marquee events till primetime (and prime ad dollars) is working. Will they show a bit of humanity in 2014? There’s about a 10-12 hour difference between us and Sochi, so probably not. Rio is a definite possibility.

Today’s roundup: gymnastics, kayak, rowing, women’s volleyball, beach volleyball, women’s water polo, swimming of all kinds, and diving.