Weren't these supposed to be the Zikalympics? There were supposed to be unfinished venues, political upheaval, gunk in the water, and who knows what else, making it into some sort of athletic apocalypse or something. Turns out the only embarrassing thing about the games in Rio was swimming buddies Ryan Lochte and others getting drunk, turning into thugs, and then into liars. And you wonder why the rest of the world hates us.
This is not how the Games of the XXXI Olympiad will be remembered. They'll be remembered for Michael Phelps going out a winner, Katie Ladecky for out-swimming anyone who dared to come near her, and Lillie King for calling out a Russian swimmer as a drug cheat, and then beating her in the water. And that's just in the pool, and those are just the Americans.
They'll be remembered for Usain Bolt winning again in the 100 and 200 meters, Brazil finally getting gold in soccer, and China's continued domination on the diving board.
They'll be remembered for the continued rise in beach volleyball, and for Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross beating the top team in the world, but only getting a bronze medal for doing it. And they'll be remembered for gymnasts like Simone Biles. It seems like there's a new 'greatest of all time' every four years, but the Final Five will be in there with the Fab Five and the Magnificent Seven before them.
They'll be remembered for more U.S. domination in both men's women's basketball, but that's not necessarily a good thing. Some may remember golf and tennis, but there were so many other things to watch to pay any attention to them. No one in this hemisphere will remember table tennis, judo, or team handball, but NBC didn't show you any. Don't blame the network, though. They know Americans don't care.
It's really hard to fault NBC for their coverage. They've been doing it a long time now. They know what we want, and we know what to expect. Actually, as viewers, we were pleasantly surprised that they didn't jump around from sport to sport as much as they have in the past, but that's because the games were in this hemisphere, and most of the swimming, track, and beach volleyball was live on the east coast. It worked out well for them that they could show live swimming (again, back east) and push gymnastics, which was tape delayed from the afternoon, late into prime time so people would stay up. Time management genius.
Speaking of genius, how about the 'midnight madness' volleyball games? It's likely that NBC had a hand in that, but those crowds on Copacabana Beach were unbelievable. It will be interesting to see four years from now, if the Japanese will like their beach volleyball as much as the Brazilians do, with the next Olympics being held in Tokyo.
More live events in prime time mean less taped featured or studio visits, but while that isn't necessarily a bad thing, we had to wait almost two weeks for a Mary Carillo piece. She didn't disappoint, though, and featured the real 'Girl from Ipanema', the now 71 year-old Helo Pinheiro. We also learned that Bob Costas knows all the words to that 1962 song, and is quite the Bossa Nova fan. At least he spared us from singing.
We're used to Costas in the studio, Dan Hicks at the pool, Tom Hammond trackside, Al Trautwig with the gymnasts, and Ted Robinson talking diving, but now NBC breaks down their Olympic carnival, puts them away for another two years, then switches to winter mode, and unpacks in Pyeongchang, South Korea. It will be figure skating instead of gymnastics, and slaloms instead of swimming, but we know how NBC will package it, and we know we'll be watching.