Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Overwhelmingly Overwhelming

TigerBlog looked on the front page of goprincetontigers.com and saw the headline of his story on Princeton's participation in the Olympic Games and noticed that he had made a big mistake.

His headline now reads "Princeton Athletes Complete Overwhelmingly Successful Olympic Games." Only for about an hour or so, he left the "ly" out of "overwhelmingly," making it "overwhelming successful."

The annual athletic department calendar is currently at the printer. Like all major projects, the approval process includes an original proof version, then a pre-press version and so on. By the time the go-ahead is given, there have been so many eyes on it that it's impossible for there to be any mistakes, right?

And then it comes back, and inevitably TB finds something that makes him wonder how he missed it. Fortunately, it hasn't been something huge - hopefully this isn't the year that trend breaks.

As for the headline, it was easily fixed.

Back when TB was at the newspaper, writing headlines was a challenge, because it wasn't so easy to change the size. They had to be the right height and cover the right number of columns, a situation that often limited creativity.

These days, headlines on goprincetontigers.com are supposed to be 75 characters or fewer, or else the risk of having a few letters drop off at the end could - but not necessarily will - happen.

Anyway, with his grammatical slip-up behind him, TB was once again left to marvel at just how well Princeton did at the Olympics.

Princeton athletes combined to win seven medals, which ranked ninth among U.S. colleges. As a country, Princeton would have been tied for 31st, out of 204 nations that competed in London.

Princeton won seven medals - one gold (Caroline Lind in rowing), two silver (Andreanne Morin and Lauren Wilkinson in the same race, only for Canada) and four bronze (Maya Lawrence and Susannah Scanlan in fencing, Diana Matheson in soccer and Glenn Ochal in rowing).

As an aside, UConn was one spot behind Princeton, and all six of its medals were won in women's basketball.

Princeton has had Olympians in every Summer Games since 1896 except for the 1960 Games in Rome. This year's total of 15 athletes and two alternates was the largest for the Tiger contingent ever.

The 2012 Olympics were the most-watched event in American television history, surpassing the 2008 Olympics. Certainly TigerBlog helped the ratings, as he can't calculate how many hours of Olympics he watched.

Of course, NBC's Olympic coverage wasn't exactly how TB would do it. The network was still very reliant on being more cheerleader than TV entity, to the point of a complete oversimplification that can be summed up as "America Good."

And there was the whole aspect of not having live action. Instead, the network offered a packaged production that was meant to blur the line between athletic contest and reality show.

As it turned out, the formula worked.

The sports fans like TB watched anyway, even knowing that they could check their "London 2012" app to see who'd already won the 200 butterfly or vault or any of the other glamor events. 

The non-sports fans are the ones who pushed the ratings way up, and they didn't care to look at who won in advance. For that matter, they were probably watching more for the drama than to see who won anyway. For them, it was Olympics-as-Top-Chef-or-Amazing-Race.

It'll be interesting to see what NBC does for the next Games, both the 2014 Winter Games in Russia and then the 2016 Summer Games in Brazil, to see if it evolves in its coverage or sticks with the winning formula. The time zones in Brazil make live coverage possible; will it be preferable?

And will NBC do anything to stay ahead of the social media curve regarding the Olympics?

This is it for TB and the 2012 Olympics. Once again, he reiterates that of all the winners, it was probably the city of London itself that came across the best, with its ability to put on the Games coupled with the obvious beauty and history of the city.

And it was a great two weeks for Princeton.

The Tiger success was overwhelmingly overwhelming.


Anonymous said...

TB: You and the entire OAC team do a tremendous job. I thank you all again at the start of a new athletic year.

Mark '74
P.S. Once I have proofread something twice, if I have missed something, it stays missed no matter how many later drafts I look at.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but I don't buy six women's basketball players as winning six gold medals. That's one medal if you are comparing apples to apples. Same with rowing. One boat equals one medal.

Anonymous said...

One winning basketball team or crew team should indeed equal, and does equal, one medal when comparing countries to each other. The team together won only one event.

But when comparing colleges to each other, there is some logic to counting individuals separately. The point is that UConn placed an extraordinary number of players onto the US women's basketball team: six, or half the entire team. That's obviously more of a reflection of UConn dominance than simply placing one player on the team. Counting six UConn players as one significantly understates UConn's achievement as a basketball program even though it avoids double-counting team medals.