For me, there is no worse "sports withdrawal" than what comes every four years following the Summer Olympics. We're still a few weeks away from Major League Baseball pennant races getting interesting, meaningful NFL games don't start until the first full weekend of September, and I have to wait an entire week for the beginning of the Premier League campaign. Things are even more difficult for me this time around, as I was able to, had I not needed to sleep for two weeks, watch the London Olympics for up to 20 straight hours each day. As I'm about to point out below, things were hardly perfect for American viewers and US sports fans during the 2012 Summer Games. With that said, I still found myself thoroughly entertained for over two weeks, and that's all I really ever ask for from any such sporting event.
3 final points on 2012 London Olympics: Where NBC truly failed
While I didn't love the fact that NBC decided to show major events, such as Usain Bolt and the US Women's Gymnastics Team winning gold, via tape-delay, I always understood and accepted it. I also found it hard to complain about watching those few events after they had occurred because I was able to watch every single competition of the London Olympics live online, and also because MSNBC, CNBC, NBC Sports and even Bravo (during the tennis competition only) all provided hours upon hours of coverage each day of the Olympics. My biggest problem with NBC came during the Opening and Closing Ceremonies.
The decision to not air the memorial to the victims of the London 7/7 attacks because "NBC's programming is tailored for the US Audience" remains, for my money, the worst decision the network made during the 2012 Summer Olympics. For starters, I saw the tribute live online thanks to BBC, and I was looking forward to viewing it in HD. That tribute also happened to be the most beautiful and poignant part of the entire Opening Ceremony.
NBC again wronged viewers during the final two nights of the Olympics. It started out Saturday evening, when the network began its prime time coverage with an hour-long World War II documentary, one that easily could have been shown on any other NBC channel during the Games, or even before the start of the Opening Ceremony. NBC then heavily edited the closing ceremony, removing multiple musical performances and instead airing an hour-long preview of the channel's new show "Animal Practice" before returning to the station's version of the final act of London 2012.
Saturday and Sunday weren't slaps in the faces of American viewers. They were, instead, reminders that NBC controls how we in this country watch the Olympics. Get used to it, because that won't change until at least next decade.
3 final points on 2012 London Olympics: The greatest
I don't think it's fair to pick one person as the "greatest overall Olympian in history." Usain Bolt will never win as many Olympic medals as did Michael Phelps. Does anybody honestly believe that Phelps is that much better of an athlete than is Bolt just because of total Olympic gold medals earned? If so, than those people are putting way too much emphasis on just medal hauls that occur once every four years.
After Bolt completed his historic double, he provided the following boast for reporters: "I'm now a legend. I'm also the greatest athlete to live." He may not be the greatest to ever participate in a Summer Games, but he's undoubtedly the best sprinter I've ever watched, and he also happens to be the most "can't miss" Olympic star since Michael Johnson.
We get more than our fill of humble Olympians who only "want to thank God, mom and dad" after each performance every two years. Bolt is the type of Olympic champion I love to watch. He's great, he knows he's great, and he also happens to win every race he's in. Bolt is either the guy you applaud after each victory, or he's the anti-hero that you actively cheer against each time he's racing down the track. Either way, guys like Bolt help make the Olympics fun for those of us who can only dream about traveling so fast with just our legs.
3 final points on 2012 London Olympics: Thanks, Spain
I never really got into the whole "1992 Dream Team vs. 2012 USA Basketball" thing for the obvious reasons (i.e. Dream Team would have dominated down low, can't compare current athletes to those who played in older eras, etc.). I did, however, have one immediate thought at the conclusion of the gold medal match that saw the US defeat Spain: The Dream Team wouldn't have defeated Spain by just seven points.
What many people forget about the Dream Team because of the lack of competition 20 years ago is that the squad was filled with players who were great at both ends of the court. Look at the 1992 roster and ask yourself this question: Is there any way Spain is shooting close to 50 percent from the field against the Dream Team in a gold medal game? Talent aside, there's also the fact that the guys who made up the Dream Team weren't afraid to be bullies.
Simply stated, that 1992 squad had the ability and toughness needed to physically and psychologically beat up either team that played for gold last weekend. The gold medal game did show me that the Dream Team wouldn't be able to beat either the 2012 US squad or Spain's current roster by 30 points. The '92 team would have such a fictitious game well in hand midway through the fourth quarter, though.