Sunday, August 24, 2008

Strong Finish

The Olympics are over, and I don't think I've ever watched the Games as much as I've watched the XXIX Olympic Summer Games.

I didn't watch much of the coverage on the extended networks, mainly because they weren't convenient for me, which leads to my first criticism of NBC's coverage: instead of showing us every match of the beach volleyball tournament the US teams played in, please show us some of the other sports. That's one of the great aspects of the Games; a chance to witness and learn about some of the less famous, but no less important, sports. A great match in table tennis is easily the rival of Federer/Nadal, except at a much faster pace. How about some archery highlights, and why only stills of the shooting? Was that some kind of anti-gun statement?

With all of that, I have seen some of the best athletic performances I can remember. Michael Phelps is just amazing to watch. Usain Bolt...yeah. The USA women's track team taking gold, silver, and bronze in one event. The men doing the same, with the bronze winner not just leaning, but diving for the finish line. That's giving it all you've got. The Women's Discus champion throwing for just 10 feet shorter than the men.

I've also been shown some of the heartbreak that comes when someone's focus isn't all that it could be, or they catch a bad break. Look at all the dropped batons in the relays. Some caused by a mishandling of the stick, but the team from Great Britain got caught up in the Jamaican's mess, lending to more of the crystalline clutter of shattered dreams littering the floor of the Olympic stadium.

The montage that concluded the telecast summed all of this up nicely, and I was brought to tears when I once more saw the feat of strength accomplished by the German weight lifter who lost his wife just before the Games.

I had to stop at this point, and now I've lost my focus, so I guess I'll end it here. My only wish is that we get a network soon that will broadcast the Games in 720p. 1080i just can't keep up with the action. I saw this for myself most clearly during the platform diving competitions. As the divers fell past the stands, everything would digitize. I checked it on the SD channel, and it was there as well, but harder to notice because of the lower resolution. My TV has a freeze frame feature that allowed me to check the image quality and remove the variable of LCD motion blur.

At any rate the Summer Games are in the book, and I'm looking forward to the Winter Games in 18 months.

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