By Mark Mravic
I woke up this morning a little after six, realized it was much too early for a Saturday and started to go back to sleep. Then I was struck by a pang of guilt. There's live Olympic coverage on, right now, at the crack of dawn. Still, that guilt wasn't enough to get me out of bed before 8:30. When I did finally stir, I headed straight for the HDTV, booting my son off of Tiger Woods' XBox game, and tuned in to women's soccer. In the ensuing 12 hours, I immersed myself in a multiplatform Olympic experience. There was soccer and basketball on the specialty HD channels, equestrian and badminton live online, beach volleyball, boxing, road cycling and swimming on the main channels. I even checked on some video footage on my AT&T cellphone while out running errands. (While the quality was impressive, the screen is just too small to see the scores or capture the action very well; also, you'd better have an earphone or a bluetooth headset if you don't want to disturb the other passengers on the bus.)
We even found time to watch the end of the previous day's opening ceremonies, which I admit I couldn't hang on for on Friday night, spectacular though they were. Hence the wonder of the DVR.
Now comes the main event, the first big medal night, including Michael Phelps' run at gold. I have to admit, after the smorgasbord of Olympic coverage on all fronts, I'm kind of looking forward to the digest format of NBC's primetime offering--a little of this, a little of that, a taste here and a taste there. After overindulging for 12 hours, I'm ready to be spoonfed.
A couple of thoughts as we get set:
* The online video, both live and archived, at NBColympics.com is phenomenal. I watched some of the live dressage last night (during the broadcast of the Opening Ceremonies). It's cool; there are no announcers, so you get the sound of the athletes, the crowd and the venue PA, but some expert somewhere is offering live commentary, explaining what's going on and providing scoring information. The same was true of badminton and judo today.
* Equestrian is one of those sports that most people only really notice when the Olympics come around. In fact, it gives off a bit of a Best in Show vibe. The same is true for the other obscure sports in Beijing--shooting, fencing, archery, etc. A small, insular but very committed core of competitors and coaches. What do the expert commentators do for four years in between Olympics?
* OK, what's with all the screaming during the fencing? In the women's competition, every time the action stops, one or both of the competitors lets out a screech. I couldn't tell if it was joy, anger, relief, frustration, or what. Maybe all of the above. Anybody have any insight? It kind of reminds me of when Monica Seles started that grunting during tennis matches, and pretty soon everyone was doing it. But, man, are those fencing suits cool. I'd like to wear one on the subway some morning.
Well, here we go with the first night of primetime coverage. Feel free to post your comments on Phelps and the rest below.