Monday, February 15, 2010

Stupid Tape Delay Can't Ruin Vancouver for This Fan

Lindsey Jacobellis (my hopeful pick to win Gold in snowboard cross) didn't qualify for the finals of her event. More disappointment for American sports fans (I always root for the good stories...who doesn't). Watching that race sucked. But what's worse is I already knew what was going to happen. I curse thee tape delay.

As it seemingly always is, my knowledge was totally unintentional. Sitting in our campus newsroom, I glanced to the left wall where three televisions are mounted and saw ESPN's graphic..."Lindsey Jacobellis Fails to Qualify for Snowboard Cross Final"...crap. Media really has to put a stop to this.

Meanwhile, there's a lot to catch up on in these last few days of the Olympic Winter Games. I'll try to go quickly:

- Nordic combined (and cross country skiing in general) was so, so much fun to watch. America had never won a medal in the event entering 2010 and the U.S. had two competitors (nordickers?) in the front pack entering the last turn. Johnny Spillane had the lead...and then he lost it. But a remarkable silver medal in a remarkable race was...well...remarkable.

Meanwhile, if you saw this race, you saw a disturbing trend evolve. NBC's play-by-play announcers are getting snowed in by some obnoxiously loud color commentators. As the exciting finish of the race was happening, the play-by-play announcer didn't stand a chance against his side-kick. I'm sure the play-by-play guy doesn't have quite as much knowledge as the specialized color guy does, but it's just getting ridiculous. Which leads me to my next point:

Just because you played the sport doesn't mean you can talk about it on television. Thank you.

-Pairs figure skating is beautiful. I don't care what you say, pairs figure skating is beautiful. Have I gotten my point across? My friends and I watched so much of the pairs competition that the only question we could ask was this:

How much of the skaters' training consists of "gaining body chemistry"? With all the positions figure skating pairs end up in, doesn't it make sense that the two would have to be comfortable with each other? You know? Ok, I'm done now.

-The curling tournament started!!!

-Best moment of the Games so far? Canada wins Gold. Alexander Bilodeau, in yet another fantastic moguls competition, won Canada's first home-soil Gold medal. But it was quickly followed by this:

-Most disappointing moment of the Games so far: NBC's botching of Bilodeau's medal ceremony. When American Hannah Kearney won Gold and the Star Spangled Banner was resounding through BC Place, viewers saw a wonderful montage of creative camera shots that melted hearts everywhere (or maybe it was only mine).

But when Bilodeau was on top of the podium, and "Oh Canada" started to play, what I saw was drastically different. With tens of thousands of proud Canadians in the crowd, NBC's feed showed one thing, Bilodeau's face. No shots of Canadians singing and smiling and waving flags. No shots of the flags rising in the distance while the camera is behind the medalists backs. Nothing. Disappointing.

But the Games go on. With Bob Costas' tweed jacket and Al Michaels' fireside chats keeping my excitement level through the roof, my dorm room will continue trying to set the mark for longest time consecutively watching the Olympic Games. I really don't think we've turned off NBC in 90 hours.

But what's most exciting about our Vancouver addiction? We have a second TV in the room.

I'm making it the CNBC TV.

All curling, all the time.

Thanks for reading.

p.s. Do you like buzzer-beaters? Here's a great one...first round of the playoffs, Vinton County (in dark jerseys) down two with two seconds to play...Tori Dixon defines what it means to be a "Hardwood Hero"

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Olympics = Easy to Love

If you're not watching, you're missing out.

In a matter of three hours - not to mention it was only day one - the world saw an incredible amount of incredible moments:

-Holland's Sven Kramer won the 5000m long track speed skating event and then gave the international viewing audience its first look at a truly Olympic celebration. Kramer jumped the outer railing, basically hurdled another obstacle and embraced his family all in one passionately emotional show of happiness. There are no boring Olympic moments.

-A bit after 8:00 p.m., Apolo Ohno decided to tell tell his first heat in the 1500m short track that they didn't train nearly enough with a passing move that could only be called legendary...or an every-race occurrence, in Ohno's case.

-Then in the final of that same event, no one needed a seat as the Koreans swept the medals and kept Ohno and fellow American J.R. Celski off the podium.

-BUT WAIT! Two of the Koreans collide and crash into the padding! America takes Silver and Bronze! Amazing! (Note: At this point, I really wanted an American flag to drape around myself while I sung (screamed) the national anthem...if only I knew what was to come in twenty minutes...)

-The night's best moment: We'd been following the women's moguls competition all night, and when the finals came around, I found my allegiance being strongly challenged. See, I'm a genuine sports fan. That means I like good stories, genuine athletes, and wonderful competition.

So...with Canada's well-publicized home-soil gold medal drought riding on Jenn Heil and Hannah Kearney standing at the starting line as the last moguler to ski, I was quite torn. I wanted Canada to get off the schnide so badly, but I wanted America to break through and win its first gold of this Games. But the best part? No matter what happened, I was going to be thrilled for the winner, and that's what the Olympics are supposed to be about - rooting for everyone like golf fans root for everyone (except Vijay Singh).

Kearney crossed the line after a nearly-flawless run and we were awaiting final judging. Oh, the suspense that only the Olympics can bring. When we saw the (Rank: 1) on the screen, the room exploded. The only thing missing from the fully-American celebration was, again, a Flag...pity.

We'll get one soon, don't worry.

Thanks for reading. I love the Olympics.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

In The Olympic Spirit

My pity party is done. It's over.

I'm sick and tired of hearing about what a great hockey team the Soviets have. Screw 'em!...wait, where did I just go?

Really, I just wanted to tell you, the people who voted for me (hopefully), about what ending up happening with the contest. I was distraught about it, and a lot of emotion spilled into "Devastation", which I probably should have edited and torn apart before posting.

Meanwhile, although I'm not happy about the situation, now that I'm back at school, I haven't had much time to mope around. I'm co-producing a high school basketball show, single-handedly running the website, taking midterms, trying to stay in shape (by dancing), hopefully remembering to eat and actively learning another language (Spanish), among others. But you know what?

To hell with it. I'm going to blog about the Olympics anyway.

Take THAT, Man.

I always love watching the Olympics, no matter which season. I love watching the Olympics, even if my roommates refer to the Winter Games as the "Fake Olympics" because they don't know the names of anyone competing (they would mutter "fake" under their breath every time someone would ask me about the contest). I remember watching The Greatest (start at 5:50) light the Torch when I was just six years old, and I still get chills now.

The Torch is one of the greatest objects in sports. Think about it, for an entire year, a stick-on-fire is carried by many and watched many countless more. People bare bitter cold to see a person run past them wielding fire. It's like the Tour de France minus extremely uncomfortable seating arrangements for the participants.

I love watching the Olympics for so many reasons, and I think you should know about them. So, for the next few weeks, starting with the Opening Ceremony, I'm going to blog about what I (unfortunately) will watch on TV. And I couldn't be happier (Olympic Spirit = unrivaled).

For starters (and those who are uninformed, like my jerk roommates), here are a few stories to watch:

1. Can Vancouver bring the heat?

I'm sure Vancouver will be a phenomenal host city. Honestly, I cannot wait to see how they open the Games tonight. I think it will, as always, be a phenomenal blend of culture and pizzaz. I'll probably learn more about Canada tonight than I've ever dreamed of knowing before. But the "Heat" that I'm talking about is the literal temperature of the Olympic Village and its beautiful surrounding areas (in pictures, of course...I've never been there, remember?). The average temperature for Vancouver in February is around 35 degrees Fahrenheit, aka not capable-of-snow. Actually, until yesterday, the word was that crews were working around the clock to move snow (from as far as three hours away) onto the ski slopes. But, Mother Nature was overcome by Olympic Spirit and decided to dump some snow on British Columbia. As if I ever thought she would get in the way of the slalom.

2. In my opinion, the biggest story on the slopes is...

Not Lindsey Vonn (or her spread in SI's Swimsuit Issue), but another United States Olympic medalist - Lindsey Jacobellis. At the Torino Games, Jacobellis was absolutely cruising to Gold in the Snowboard Cross, when she tried for some extra style...and lost. Watching that was heartstring-tearing. Like 2005 Memphis/Louisville. It just made you want to weep. So what's going to happen in Vancouver with Jacobellis? She'll be on the podium again. And this time, she'll be Golden.

3. All curling, all the time

Guilty pleasure #2134085 = CURLING. I spent more hours watching CNBC (I swear that network broadcasted curling 16 hours a day...'Cause NoBody Curls) during Torino than I did doing homework. The U.S. team took Bronze in '06...and will hopefully medal again, but if Team Canada's boisterous voices are any indication, they should win Gold. Screaming at teammates who hold brooms = directly related to curling success. (Note: I tried to find a YouTube video of curlers screaming, but they're few and far's all I found).

4. How many times will I curse tape delay?

Answer: multiply the amount of events I watch by the number of times I fail not to log on to the internet while watching said events and you get a very frustrated sports fan. Seriously, there should be a worldwide law that bans media outlets from broadcasting the winners of events until the public has seen them. I know that's probably impossible, but I can dream...right?

Tape delay is the only horrible thing about the Olympic Games. And gosh, it's worse than a BCS/Bud Selig love child. Think about this: if you wanted to know, you could have found out the score of the "Miracle on Ice" before you watched it. You're sitting in your living room thinking, "I wonder how badly the Russians beat us this time?" you turn on the local news and BAM!...out of nowhere, the TV reads "USA - 4, USSR - 3". Do you believe in miracles? Really, the question should be: do you believe in miracles that you already know the ending to?

Go World.

As always, thanks for reading. I love you.

By the way, I've been asked to post the link to Team USA's news site...check it out!

Thursday, February 4, 2010


In my long-awaited return to the internet...this was one of those posts I wished I'd never have to write.
The title was either going to be "SUCCESS!" or, unfortunately, what it is now.
I was hoping to be so happy I could dance, but now I'm more upset than I've ever been.
This is NOT such A Bright Look, sorry.
I hope you understand.

I like to make sports analogies (if you didn't know that, welcome to my blog!), so I'm going to make one that seems extremely fitting right now.

I was watching the Cardinals/Packers game a few weekends ago, and my friends and I were yelling and screaming at seemingly everything that happened during the game. Touchdowns (there were plenty), penalty calls, anything, you name it. But when your team (in this case, most people in the room were rooting for Green Bay) loses on a last-play-of-the-game-type moment, usually the viewing area becomes completely silent. That's the way it was when the Cardinals returned a fumble for a touchdown - no one said a word. There was too much disappointment.

I told you that story so I could tell you this one...

I love my mom.

She is the most wonderful person on this planet.

But my mom doesn't know the silence rule.

She's that person who asks a zillion questions immediately after your team loses in overtime and all you want to do is sulk in your chair and stare blankly at the television. So when we were sitting in my room talking on the morning of Christmas Eve, my mom unknowingly piled on. I was on my computer, and I read something that made the emotion drain from my face so quickly that my mom knew exactly what happened, even though I said nothing.

On December 24, 2009, I found out that I lost the Olympic Blogging Contest.

I didn't get beat, no. Absolutely not. See, to get beat, the person who beat you has to be better than you are. That was nowhere near the case. Somehow, someway, I lost. Did I break the rules? Can't see where that happened. Did I not write enough? Uh, only four times as much as the guy who I lost to. I don't get it. Good luck getting the kid who posted three times per month to blog roughly five times a day.

(The worst part? [Besides being told on Christmas Eve, of course. Hey Grinches! Really awesome timing!] Reminders are everywhere. Snow. Coats and Jackets. Every Morgan Freeman commercial. Stephen Colbert's sponsoring of USA speed skating. Every time someone asks about the contest. And every time, until now, that I've had to lie to you about "not knowing how it's turned out yet." Recently got an email from a psychology professor, Dr. Vancouver (really). My friend from high school is working the Olympics for NBC. I turned on the radio ten minutes before our campus' sports talk show and heard two people talking about how the Canadian ski team is extremely excited to win gold in Vancouver. The list goes on and on.)

Back to my room on 12/24/2009, I didn't want to talk to anyone. I put my head between my legs, closed my eyes, and said nothing. My mom, however, asked all the questions that would eventually need to be asked, only at exactly the wrong time...all at once.


I was perusing Facebook (yes, I was told on the internet) and there, on the group page that had been created so the contest sponsors could be in "communication" (quotes for sarcasm) with the semi-finalists, there it was:


It was a cruel joke, right? The kid who doesn't like sports is going to be blogging from the biggest sporting event in the history of Earth? You're kidding. Honestly, go to the link and start reading, if you make it through a whole post without being bored senseless, I'll give you the "Blogathlete" t-shirt that I got from the contest.

(side-note: now look, I'm not saying I've never made a mistake in my writing. That would be purely fictitious, but here's an excerpt from a winning post...

"The following day included a family/friend viewing of the Kansas University-Missouri University football game. Now I have never been much for watching football and I hold little knowledge of the sport beside the fact that I like seeing big hits, but considering my (hopefully) future school transfer is slightly religious about football and basketball I figured I should start paying attention. It was a good game and the heated rivalry definitely kept things interesting and I actually found myself very interested in the game and even began to kinda follow what was going on."

And you thought I was kidding about him not liking sports. First, I'd like to point out "Missouri University." Really, bud? Not the "University of Missouri?" That's like Terrelle Pryor saying that he had signed with the University of Ohio State. I won't say more about the actual writing, other than this: according to the rules of the contest, 20 points out of the 100 point scale judges were supposed to use to pick the winner were for "grammar, clarity, usage, and overall organization" and another 40 were for "relevance to the Olympic blogging opportunity." Please.)

It could have been anyone else, and I would have been able to rationalize it in my head. Christie, the skating guru - wonderful writer whose site is updated nearly every day - totally deserving. Or Jake, the skier - one of the most awesome sites I've seen - let's hit the powder. But no. Not them, and not me. Zero sense, sir.

But before I rant and rave more about this and that, I'm going to stop myself. And I'm going to speak directly to anyone involved in the voting. I would like to speak with you.

Ultimately, this comes down to your decision, and now I'm going to tell you why you're wrong. Dead wrong. (This will be the first and last time you will read me saying how good I think I am. I joke about it sometimes, but this is serious.)

What you failed to realize, when you were "judging" the entries (and I'm starting to doubt you even visited a single site), is that I can write and have written about literally anything. Experiences? Check. Life? Myself? Other people? Sports? More checks. I could write about any subject in any situation, and I could make it great. Drying paint? Yup. Watching grass grow? No problem. Chess? Checkmate.

You know when you do something bad and you're not so much worried about your parents being angry as you are about them being "disappointed?" Sure, I thought disappointment was the worse emotion too. Well, people of earth, we have drastically underestimated the power of anger. Because you, voters, just made me mad. And that's why I'm done telling you that you're wrong. Because for the next 60 years, I'm going to show you why you're wrong.

Congratulations. By being blind, you motivated me. And if you know anything about me, you'd know that was the last thing I needed. Good luck in Vancouver to the winners. You're only representing the company that invented the personal computer. But whatever, no pressure dude.

So yes, I'm slightly bitter (still now) and I hope I don't come off as too big a sore loser (possible), but, as always, I have since found a silver lining.


Since I got the call about being a semi-finalist until now, the outpouring of support from you has been astounding - my Facebook group had over 650 members, I had people telling me spontaneously that they were voting for me everyday, I had more views on my page than I ever had before, and heck, I didn't even know some of the people contacting me to say "good luck!" - this experience, though emotionally draining, has been incredible. And I wish I had good news for you. But honestly, I cannot thank you enough. To think that so many people would rally behind a college kid in support of a ridiculous dream is something I will remember for a very, very long time. I just wish I had pulled through for you. I wish I was the one helping you see Vancouver through my words. But more than ever, I truly believe the heart of life is good. And that's because of you.

Thank you for reading anything I write simply because it has my name attached. And I hope you continue to do the same in the next half-century. I love all of you. So, so much.

I still can't wait for the Olympics.

p.s. on the other side of the draw (the women's side), Amber won, and she, along with a few others, were very deserving, so voters went one-for-two...Hey Apple, if you ever have a contest like this (no doubt one that will run like Snow Leopard), I'd like to be considered. Thanks.