Monday, August 8, 2016

Guest TigerBlog - Opening The Olympics

Okay, whoever is organizing the Opening Ceremonies for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, TigerBlog is going to save you a lot of time, money and headaches. And you'll get way better reviews than you'll get if you don't listen to him.

Here's all anyone wants to see: 1) a short video introduction of the Olympics and the host city, 2) the parade of athletes, 3) the lighting of the torch by a local athletic hero. That's it. Nothing else.

The Opening Ceremonies for the current Olympic Games in Rio were, well, awful. They took forever. The packaging on TV was brutal. They got destroyed on Twitter and in the media.

The best part was seeing the Princeton athletes who are competing as they came into the stadium. The worst part was everything else.

So yeah, just follow TigerBlog's script, Tokyo, and you'll be all set. 

TigerBlog didn't get to see that much of the first few days of the Olympics, for reasons he'll get into tomorrow or Wednesday. As a result, he's turned the floor today over to his OAC colleague Kristy McNeil, who offers her thoughts on the Opening Ceremonies and the start of the Rio Games.

As I was watching the Opening Ceremonies Friday night, I thought briefly of live tweeting it.

Live tweeting has been something that has become second nature for us SIDs to do during games. Our office has to be one of, if not the most, sarcastic OAC offices in the Ivy League. In a good way.

So what would I have tweeted?

"Metal bugs trot out. I can see you people carrying them! Why aren't you even trying to hide?"

"Men in THONGS."

"Brazil are you really claiming first in flight?! Did you walk on the moon first too!"

I checked on Twitter to compare my imaginary tweets to what others were saying, and surprise - the opening ceremonies weren't live. Why this never dawned on me I don't know... my excuse: It was Friday, my office was flooded, it was a long week.

On Twitter, I was getting updates on what was actually going on, live. For instance, I saw Gisele walk in her silver lamé dress 15 minutes before NBC showed it. Why did NBC say this Gisele segment was going to be so amazing? All she did was walk a catwalk, like she's done a thousand times before. I mean, I get it - she's pretty. Even better looking now with her plastic surgery (yea she did, I read it in US Weekly. Google it if you don't believe me).

The best part of the Opening Ceremony is the Parade of Nations. This year we didn't have to wait as long to see the US contingent, as they came out under "E" in the Portuguese language as Estados Unidos.

It’s great to see the pride on these athletes' faces, when you can see their faces when they aren’t obscured by their own cameras capturing the experience themselves #selfiestickgalore.

Princeton women’s track & field assistant coach Priscilla Frederick was the first athlete I recognized. She is the only female to represent her country of Antigua & Barbuda, and her purple hair made her stand out even more. Best of luck to her in the high jump.

Listening to the trio of Matt Lauer, Meredith Vieira and Hoda Kotb was slightly painful. It reminded me of the SNL skit with Will Ferrell on the keyboard, as Marty & Bobbi Culp who head the music department at Alta Dena Middle School. You can see it HERE.

As the US came out, I was on high alert to try to spot as many Princetonians as I could (Princeton has 13 athletes in Rio, by far the most of any Ivy school, if TB hasn't mentioned that yet), though our three field hockey players, Katie and Julia Reinprecht and Kat Sharkey would not attend the ceremony because they had a game the next day.

After I spotted THE Donn Cabral, took a snap and posted on social media, the parade of nations was on to letter M. Now it was 11:30 p.m. I couldn’t do it any longer. Sorry Nauru, Suriname, Tuvalu and others. Blame NBC and their commercials every eight minutes.

If there were a drinking game every time NBC mentioned Michael Phelps, Alyson Felix or the women’s gymnastics team….

We have more athletes competing than any other nation, yet NBC wants to keep mentioning these select few. Why? Do you think we’re dumb and don’t know anything about sports?

One of my favorite moments of the weekend came during women’s beach volleyball.

It was the Swiss vs. China. (Don’t get me started on why I think this is on in prime time). There was a controversial call made on China’s match point. Video review officials gave the point to China. The Swiss go to the net and argue with the officials. You can see for yourself on the video review that the Swiss did have a legitimate claim. The Chinese are signing volleyballs and tossing them in the stands in victory.

NBC goes back to the studio with Bob Costas, who says something to the effect of ‘wow that’s something,’ and then NBC goes into a pre-taped segment on the Amazon. After two or three minutes, they cut back to beach volleyball, where the officals have decided to have a re-do of the match point after the Swiss lobbied hard enough. The Swiss win the next point, but China finishes it off on the next serve and the match is NOW officially over. Seriously NBC. If I wanted to watch a segment on the Amazon, I’ll turn on Nat Geo. I’m here to watch sports. Sports.

Thankfully there is live streaming. That is where I had to turn to watch the US women’s field hockey team defeat the favorite to win the gold, Argentina, thanks to Katie Reinprecht's giving the US a 1-0 lead and Kat Sharkey's having the wherewithal to jump up so the penalty corner shot could make its way into the goal for a 2-0 lead.

And where I got to watch a peaceful women’s soccer game sans commentators. Canada vs Zimbabwe, where Canada dominated. Princeton’s Diana Matheson played a huge role in the win. She nearly put one away at the near corner in the 15th minute and four minutes later drew a penalty kick after getting crushed by the goalkeeper. That set up Christine Sinclair (one of my personal favorite soccer players, out of Portland) to make it 2-0 Canucks. In the 42nd minute Matheson had a goal waved off due to offsides.

I read that viewership of the primetime coverage in its nice little packages is way down. And I know why. The live streaming is way better. It’s live. It doesn’t have annoying commercials and commentators who speak as though you’re an idiot. And it’s where you can actually see sports.

Live streaming is where I watched the first ever Olympic rugby game, which was the US women vs. Australia. There’s a lot of parts of the game I enjoy but the constant touching I’m not a fan of. Like the scrums. They’re all sweaty and putting their arms around each other – bleh!

Then there’s the intensity of the table tennis serve as the hand goes way up and you expect a big blast and it’s a perfectly placed little bounce.

There were commentators doing the men’s kayak yesterday and they were hilarious. “Whoah, that was a terrible start!” “It says here he practices yoga. That should help his mind after this finish.” Just awesome. I think the accents just make it better too.

For the most part, though, the announcers aren't making the events any better. They're too scripted. They're trying too hard to sell a product, and you can't do that in sports, let alone at the Olympics. The outcome dictates the story, not the other way around. And it can come from any athlete or any sport.

If I want the full Olympic experience of watching an array sports from athletes from all different countries, not just Michael Phelps, Alyson Felix or the women’s gymnastics team, I’ll be turning in online.

Just like my grandparents did.

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