Who am I?

I'm from Houston, a graduate of the University of Texas, a fan of the Houston Astros and Houston Texans. But this blog will be about the "greater sports", whatever that means.

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Monday, August 22, 2016

Rio 2016 Olympics Television Coverage, Judges Say?


NBC and the Olympics are synonymous
The Summer Games of the XXXI Olympiad in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, were nothing less than a success on the fields, courts, pools*, roads, course, beaches, oceans, tracks, and any other surface I missed.  More on pools in a minute.  The environment around the games was not as crisp.  Reports of unsuitable quarters for the athletes, rumors of unsafe conditions on the streets, and some events not selling tickets as expected (and, shockingly, those in power scalping tickets) provided some tarnish, but fans tune into watch sports and their athletes, not a documentary on a city.


So how was the TV coverage?  Excellent, good, bad, and worse.  But mostly good.  This is reflective of the United States coverage of the Games, I cannot comment on other countries TV coverage.

The Excellent

Event on air talent.  NBC did a great job of bringing in event experts that could break down the events for a layperson to understand.  Be it Water Polo, Gymnastics, Volleyball, Golf, you name it.  Ato Boldon and Sonya Richards-Ross were particularly strong in Track and Field.  Announcers had a great balance of commentary or letting the moment speak for itself.  There were a few cases of gender bias noted (in my opinion limited to individuals, not systemic), but in whole, this was a strength.

Focus on United States.  Let's face it.  Americans do not watch Fencing (or Judo or Equestrian or Volleyball or Water Polo and I could go on).  But if there is an American stake, I'm going to watch.  NBC again did a good job of focusing on United States while still showing great moments from other sports.  I never felt like either was let down, the balance was good.

Mike Tirico.  One of the great broadcasters/anchors of our era, great they signed him in time to do these games.  He's extremely knowledgeable, his demeanor rubs no one the wrong way, and he's extremely well prepared.  He's not overbearing and his ego is in check (unlike other talent).  Next Olympics he needs to be the featured guy.

Mike Tirico is finally getting his chance to lead a broadcast
 The Good

Interviews.  The balance of interviews either just after the event (excellent) or in the studio (pretty good) were fun to watch.  The event ones were sometimes awkward due to the instant nature of them, but athletes and on court/field media talent were a strength.  Good example was Carmelo Anthony just after the United States Men's basketball win or Lewis Johnson on the track.  The studio interviews were nice, but canned questions and predictable answers sometimes left me thinking that it was gratuitous.  I still watched, though.

Lewis Johnson captures a moment when this athlete was DQ'd just after event (later overturned)
Breadth of coverage.  With all the channels within the NBC network, no event was left uncovered.  You could review the daily schedule and find your event no matter what it was.  At worst, you could revert to online watching.  It was frustrating in that many times it was unclear what event was starting when, forcing you to watch another event for fear you might miss what you wanted.  A more clear itinerary (which changes in real time) is an improvement to consider here.

The Bad

Focus on off field issues.  This is not all NBC's fault.  Ryan Lochte focus (he's just one very bad person among a thousand athletes).  Focus on who had their hand over their heart (mostly on social media).  Who was wearing religious headgear.  But mainly Lochte.  He and his teammates acted foolishly and their Olympic legacy is forever impacted negatively.  The drama was more of a TMZ nature, not worthy of continuous discussion at the expense of other stories.  By no means am I saying downplaying what happened, the behavior was despicable.  But like the hand over heart, focus on religion, etc., there were too many real inspiring sports stories that got less air time because of that focus.  Disappointed in the average American viewer that every single turn of events had to be turned into a racial divide (again, holding hands over hearts, treatment of Lochte, even the otherwise extremely inclusive Ellen DeGeneres was accused of a racist tweet...she was just trying to be funny).  I was hoping the Olympics could have been more uniting.

There should have been more joy and less scorn by media and fans
Bob Costas.  Retire.  Please.  He's offering very little these days.  His voice overs seemed over rehearsed at best, canned at worst.  He's way more interested in advancing his own profile than actually covering sports (in my humble opinion).  He acts like whatever he says is the most important thing ever (while a guy like Tirico is offering good, fresh insight).  The page of the novel needs to be turned.

The game has passed up ole Bob


The Worse

Tape Delayed events.  The balance between the millions of dollars paid for the broadcast rights vs. sharing the moment with the world is the root cause.  Gymnastics mostly happened in the afternoon, yet NBC chocked their evening coverage full of replays to garnish ratings.  Everyone knew who won from online media.  You get to see the performances, but at that point, you're losing the part of your audience that is watching for the uncertainty, which is appreciable.  I know people who have to work, but show it live (on NBC) and let the United States engage in real time.

NBC missed a chance to let the USA be more global and share a moment with the world
Opening Ceremonies.  Related to the Tape Delay.  The one event the World is watching and the United States were watching a delayed production.  Unacceptable.  Broken up by frequent commercials (put at every six minutes by some).  The parade of athletes was choppy with the commercial breaks and overall it just needed to be more of the happenings in real time, than the coverage.

In summary, I give a 7.2 (out of 10).  Get rid of Bob Costas and tape delays and you're approaching 9 out of 10.  Unfortunately, in the divisive country we live in, I'm not sure we can ever watch the Olympics and see everyone as Americans, instead of African American, European American, Muslim American, and so forth.  Maybe by Tokyo.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Sportsman of the Week Ending 8/21/2016

As the Games of the XXXI Olympiad wind down, there were countless stories of success, triumph, and disappointment.  With the second full week focusing on Track and Field, we'll look for the individual that proved to be the best of both Track and Field in the Decathlon.  American Ashton Eaton performed the grueling 10 event sequence in dramatic fashion to win his second consecutive gold medal.  The 6'1", 185 lb athletic wonder did running, jumping, vaulting, and throwing better than his competitors.  A true display of athleticism, he is crowned again as the greatest athlete in the world, and isn't that what the Olympics are about?  Ashton Eaton winds down our Olympics as the Sportsman of the Week!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Sportswoman of the Week Ending 8/14/2016

The Olympics continue and was clearly the sports story of the week.  Swimming, Gymnastics, basketball, cycling, contact sports and it goes on and on.  But it was gymnastics, specifically the United States women that took the spotlight.  Led by Simone Biles, who led the team to Gold, then won all-around gold, and took gold in the Vault.  Biles was three for three earning gold and in dominant fashion.  Two more shots at gold (the first ended in bronze today in balance beam; floor exercise is still to go).  But the first three were not even close.  The United States women had the event sewn up before the final event.  She beat her teammate by 2 points for the All-Around.  The distance between her and the 2nd place Vault finisher was larger than the distance between 2nd and 8th.  She represents the United States with athleticism, grace, and class, and is our Longhorndave Sportswoman of the Week!

Monday, August 8, 2016

Sportswoman of the Week Ending 8/7/2016

It was an eventful opening weekend of the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (that's the XXXI Olympiad for those in a base four system) and sensational performances are already abound.  Tennis upsets, thrilling cycling road races, and a staple of the first week:  Swimming.  American Katie Ledecky was expected to blaze through the pool and that she did in the 400m freestyle final.  Blazing in terms of demolishing an admirable Silver medal swimmer by nearly 5 seconds, and breaking her own World Record by almost 2 seconds.  And the D.C. born, Baltimore native Ledecky is just getting started having also medaled in the 4x100m freestyle (silver).  She'll be gold digging for the 200m and 800m free styles in the days to come.  Hard to imagine she won't come home with two more golds.  And she is our Longhorndave Sportswoman of the Week!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Sportsman of the Week Ending 7/31/2016

We're on a golf binge this summer but why not, as there were four first time major winners in men's golf for the first time since 2011.  The rain-soaked PGA Championship was mild on drama, but the winner was pushed to the end.  American Jimmy Walker distanced himself from the field, then fended off a late challenge by 2015 PGA Champion and World Number 1 Jason Day who Eagles 18 to push Walker to need a par.  Which he nailed.  Walker nailed four straight strong rounds, didn't bogey his last 28 holes (including two rounds on Sunday due to rain) and cemented his status as Major winner.  And he is our Sportsman of the Week.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Sportsman of the Week Ending 7/24/2016

The Tour De France remains one of the mainstay summer sporting events not only in Europe, but across the World.  Cyclists from the six continents unite for three weeks of daily racing contests with an overall (General Classification) winner crowned, along with points winners in catergories like sprints, mountain climbs, and young rider.  But it's the GC that gets the most attention.  And for the second year in a row, and three out of four, British cyclist (by way of Kenya) Chris Froome of Team Sky was the clear winner by over 4 minutes.  After gaining minutes and seconds in all the critical stages in the first two weeks, the decisive blow was a dominant mountain time trial stage victory on Stage 18 (his second stage victory of the Tour).  It's his third nod, a worthy Sportsman of the Week!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Sportsman of the Week Ending 7/17/2016

It is the season of international sports and historic moments.  Enter the The Open Championship at Royal Troon.  Sunday set up to be a classic match contest and did not disappoint.  Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson were several strokes ahead of the field entering the day, and it went from there. Both sides fired birdies and pars and see-sawed back and forth until the final six holes.  Then Stenson put it away.  With a brilliant putt at 14 and finishing the last four holes at 4 under par (that's one over birdie).  Mickelson simply couldn't answer the shots.  And Stenson walked away with the Claret Jug and his first Major Championship (well earned for a guy who has been so good for so long).  Henrik Stenson is the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Sportswoman of the Week Ending 7/10/2016

Summer is a busy time for sports, with action across Europe (Tour de France, Wimbledon, Euro 2016) and the United States (MLB, NASCAR, MLS, NWSL).  But it's the United States Women's Open (golf) that anointed a new winner this week.  Brittany Lang of McKinney, Texas, went to the three extra holes to beat Sweden's Anna Nordqvist by three strokes, two of which were by controversial penalty (in true USGA style).  Nordqvist grounded her club in the sand on the 74th hole incurring a two shot penatly, but then lost by one stroke on the 75th and final hole of the 3-hole aggregate playoff.  But Lang is the story here, busting through for only her second tour victory and doing it on the biggest stage.  She

Monday, July 4, 2016

Sportsman of the Week Ending 7/3/2016

A busy sports week, with Wimbledon, Tour de France, Euro 2016, College World Series and Major League Baseball filling up the sports fans' day.  It's Major League Baseball we look to this week as teams hit the half-way mark of the season.  Kendrys Morales is single-handedly willing his Kansas City Royals back into the playoff hunt.  With several key players down and pitching struggling, Morales had a week few have ever matched.  In seven games, he went 15-26 (.577) with 4 HR and 10 RBI.  Slugging 1.038 with 27 total bases.  The Royals ended the week 4-3 holding within a half game of the Wild Card.  Usually a designated hitter, he played five games in the field in order to keep his scorching bat in the lineup.  The second half of the season is here, and the Royals fate may just rest on the bat of Kendrys Morales.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Sportsman of the Week Ending 6/26/2016

As we move past the NBA and NHL, so many sports going on (golf, horse racing, baseball, soccer, Olympic trials, etc.) finding a Sportsman of the Week requires judgment.  But we look for underdog.  Triumph over adversity.  Skill.  And positivity.  Enter Billy Hurley III.  Never won a PGA tour event.  Lost his father shortly after the previous years tournament (after he went mysteriously missing).  A United States Naval Academy graduate and Lieutenant (read American Hero).  Playing at the Congressional in Bethesda, MD, near his home in Annapolis.  Enough said.  Billy Hurley out-dueled very experienced golfers like Ernie Els and Vijay Singh down the stretch and did it with flare. A chip make at 15.  Approach shots rivaling the best in golf on 16-18.  He won by 3 strokes and now can keep his PGA card for some time without worry.  Good guys get rewarded.  Congrats Billy Hurley III, you're our Sportsman of the Week!