Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Pyeonchang 2018: Recap

After two weeks and three weekends of competitions at the Winter Olympics; it is time to recap what we saw. I could summarize all the wins and losses, specifically by US athletes, but I want to look at the most memorable features of the competitions. If I just wanted to glorify the athletic feats I couldn't do a better job than NBC. I will instead focus on looking at what I will remember from these olympics.

The Good
The olympics witnessed champions winning to continue there illustrious careers. Among them are Marit Bjoergen of Norway who has now earned more medals than any winter olympian. The Dutch continued their dominance of long track speedskating. We also saw some of the greatest athletes in their sport put it all on the line and yet get beat. Lindsey Vonn is widely considered the best skier in the downhill event. She was presumed to be the top gold medal threat, but only managed to earn bronze. We should remember that this is sports and that the unexpected can happen on any day. In Pyeonchang we had Ester Ledecka and Yun Sung-bin who pulled off wins that were completely unexpected before competition began. It was also great to see sports like curling and cross country skiing get so much coverage which is normally non-existant.

The Bad
The coverage schedule was so hit or miss on NBC and its networks. I understand that the alpine skiing was delayed and rescheduled. This did throw a monkey wrench into the carefully choreographed prime time schedule. The problem was that it seemed to be that an event schedule for airing in the afternoon would suddenly not be broadcast when it had been scheduled. It would also be nice to see some events completely rather than getting this partial and reduced coverage which only shows the back half of an event and the podium spots.
The other bad news to come out of the olympics was doping. Specifically doping by Russian athletes. The Russian Olympic Committee had already been kicked out of the Pyeonchang games because of the systemic doping program they had run during the Sochi games. One would think that the Olympic Athletes from Russia would be conscientous to avoid the use of doping products. Unfortunately the mixed doubles curling team member tested positive. There were reports of a second doping positive from a Russian athlete. In my opinion no Russian athlete should have been competing in Pyeonchang due to the Sochi doping program. A tough line might have finally convinced the Russians that the doping programs they have a sad history of being associated with are not worth it. One can only hope that Russian athletes can compete clean in the next few olympiads.

The Best Tweets
People are able to be more creative and expressive with the use of twitter. They can run the gamut of serious, poignant, or funny. I will highlight some of the best tweets I saw related to the Olympics:

We should not forget that the Paralympics have begun. We should be watching these truly talented individuals compete.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Congratulations to the Packers

Let's go Packers!! I want to congratulate the Green Bay Packers on winning Super Bowl 45. It was a great game that came down to the last two minutes of the fourth quarter. The Packers showed the endurance to last through four tough games. Titletown is deserving of this victory. The fans are among the best. I must point out that there was a great bet made on the Super Bowl between Milwaukee and Pittsburgh. Mike Pesca, Josh Levin, and Steven Fastis provided great recap of the Super Bowl.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Thanks for the memories, Back to the current competitions

I would like to thank Universal Sports for it's month of homage to Bud Greenspan. Bud Greenspan made extraordinary documentaries about the Olympic games starting with the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. Universal Sports was the appropriate place for the airing of these quality documentaries.
The problem I do have with Universal Sports is the shear number of times they repeat the events they do broadcast. It was quite evident with the three or more times that I was flipping channels and ran across the same documentary. I may have had bad luck, but I know very well that the same three events get played all week. The only events I have seen this winter are figure skating, downhill skiing, and skeleton being played on a regular basis. There has been some very limited coverage of cross country skiing and ski jumping, but the truth is that it is nowhere near the coverage from 2009 and 2010.
I can only hope that with the more airtime available we will see more of these events televised. I realize that they have very little pull in part because Americans are not the main stars of these sports, but without television coverage there will never be any interest by more than a few American youth. I don't expect to see these events live, but they can easily be played during the week to fill some of the airtime that right now is being used for reruns of races and competitions broadcast on the weekend. Biathlon, a sport consisting of rifle marksmanship and cross country skiing, is going to bring its World Cup to the United States. I can only hope that there might be an outside possibility that we will see this event live or tape delayed during the week immediately following the competition. With the upcoming World Championships for most winter sports I hope to see more variety on Universal Sports.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Changing of seasons

It is that time of year when we living in the Northern Hemisphere start to feel the drop in daytime temperatures and the deciduous trees begin to turn a beautiful shade of either red, yellow, or brown. The same is true of the sports that we watch and participate in. Baseball is slowly meandering to crown its champion along with several other sports that have seasons that run through the summer. More importantly the road cycling season calls an end to its major events with the Giro d'Lombardia, better known as the race of the falling leaves. Today's race, read the recap here, true to the changing weather was cool and rainy, but the competition was as fierce as ever with Phillipe Gilbert winning the race for a second consecutive year. The truth about our society as expressed through sports is that in two weeks I will be watching the first World Cup downhill skiing events of the year. I won't have taken the time to digest the amazing acts of courage and feats of heroism throughout the summer by the world's best cyclists. On a completely separate note the 2011 Tour de France route will be revealed on Tuesday. Their recent route designs have created great value for the fans on the side of the road and watching on TV.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Congratulations to the God of Thunder

With cycling in the news again for all the wrong reasons with the news of Alberto Contador apparently testing positive for Clenbutrol; it was refreshing to watch Thor Hushovd of Norway win last weekends World Road Race Cycling Championships down in Australia. Congratulations are well deserved for winning on a difficult and hilly course in Geelong. It is always good to see the world's best professionals show up and put on a competitive and animated race for the all important rainbow jersey. All cycling fans needed this beautiful sight to get us out of the depressive funk of the contador doping case. I am also going to take this opportunity to congratulate Fabian Cancellara on his impressive fourth world time trial championship victory.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Contador: Positive for Doping at the Tour

In the news this morning was the announcement that Alberto Contador, the winner of this years Tour de France, had tested positive for a prohibited substance. You can read about it here. This seems to be a dietary supplement or other accidental contamination problem due to the low level that was measured and the multiple other tests taken during the tour. The problem is that a presumed clean rider should never be placed in the compromising position of having to defend himself for a substance that he didn't he had ingested. Even with team doctors clearing all supplements and medecine being prescribed there is no sure way to avoid all prohibited substances. In the late 90's when performance enhancing drug use was revealed to be pervasive in sports; the world went about creating a treaty that defined the code of conduct on doping for international sport competitions. We need a treaty that deals with dietary supplements since they are not highly regulated in most countries. If they are properly labeled then athletes will be able to avoid accidentally consuming prohibited substances. Let's all hope that Contador is proven innocent and doesn't have to serve a two year ban.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Concussions in sports

Concussions have become an important discussion topic since it was revealed several years ago that this injury posed a great risk of permanent brain damage if not treated properly. After the initial report and congressional hearings the NFL finally went about implementing a policy that ends players from playing through concussions in games. I applaud the league for having a policy that intends to mitigate any damage from concussions. The end result is that major players have been forced to miss games due to the new policy. I think that we, the viewers and fans, will finally realize the shear amount of concussions that are pervasive in football. There are only so many rules changes that can be used to reduce concussions.
The bigger fear I have is the multitude of young youth who are playing football in pee wee leagues and high school teams. These athletes are undergoing development of their brains and as such brain injuries are capable of more traumatic brain damage. In a New York Times article the quality of medical attention at most high school football games lack certified medical trainers. I understand that this would be an expensive cost for many cash strapped districts and nearly impossible for many rural districts to comply with. In the meantime states should follow the lead of Washington state and pass laws that protect students in high school sports, and mostly football players, from injuring themselves even more when they have a concussion. I think that the end result will be that high schools will be forced to shutdown football teams due to the inherent risk of concussions which may lead to significant brain injuries.