Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Tivo recorded about 180 hours of Olympics for us, sometimes more than 20 hours in a day. We’re almost done watching the recordings, four days after the closing ceremonies, and we were certainly able to see more Olympics this way than we ever have in the past. I used to hate watching non-live sporting events, but I guess I’ve gotten used to it. It was sometimes frustrating to know the results ahead of time, since I don’t have a Firefox extension that can redact the sports results from news pages.

NBC didn’t do as many sob story retrospectives this year, showing how every athlete has overcome horrendous personal tragedies. That was really the only improvement this year. NBC still skips blocks of points in the middle of matches, provides nonstop repetitive chatter, rarely explains fine points of the rules or scoring, and complains about the judging whenever possible. Watching online would be a far better choice if only the frame rate weren’t so poor (and the screen so small), because then you can watch entire matches without the commentators, check the rules and scoring guidelines, and not wear the print entirely off the Tivo remote’s skip forward button while trying to bypass 8760 commercials and 17 hours of gymnasts sitting around waiting for their scores to be posted. Oh, and maybe see more than 10 minutes of badminton.

If we had the Tivo connected to broadband, there may have been some better ways to record individual sports rather than 4-hour to 8-hour mixed blocks. But when you do have to record a huge block of time as an individual program, Tivo really needs a way to let you delete part of a program. Even a limited functionality of that would be tremendously helpful.

Despite those frustrations, there were many amazing events to watch. Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt are tremendously fast, but there were some swimming finals where almost the entire field was ahead of world record time for much of the race. The Cuban women’s indoor volleyball team dominated their first match against the US, playing at a very high level. The new gymnastics scoring had gymnasts trying more difficult and impressive routines, which bodes well for the progression of the sport in the future. And I’m always blown away by the diving.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Actually, we blew by quite a few of the "gutsy athlete" interviews and profiles, which is a nice feature of TIVO.

I like it when they do the highlights for the field events: 6 javelin throws in quick succession is really all the javelin I need.

We missed some of the badminton that got broadcast---the hard drive is only so big, but it was infuriating to have them show the final point (not even the whole volley, just the bird hitting the ground) of the men's singles final along with the winner's celebration (which involved throwing nearly everything at hand and foot into the stands). Then the commentator says "Wasn't that great! Are you hooked on badminton now?" with the unspoken finish of "Too bad. You're out of luck 'cause we certainly won't broadcast any more of it. Especially because the only people in the US with any chance of winning in an international competition are ex-pat Chinese (or maybe Aussies)."

I greatly enjoyed the team synchronized swimming and individual rythmic gymnastics ribbon "apparatus." We didn't see much of the trampoline, which is also fun.

Apparently, I have strange tastes in sports.