Monday, August 25, 2008

5 Good and 5 Bad Olympic Events

The Olympics are over and that makes me sad because that was some good stuff to watch to pass along the hours. On the surface China did a good job of hosting on the games. But it was obvious that they were just putting on a front for the world and they are still the some old China that we have all come to love. It's not that I don't want to be friends with China, it's just that I have a problem with the way it treats its slaveizens.

During the games I watched a wide array of sports, some I gained more respect for, some I lost respect for. Here are the top five sports that I feel differently about after the Olympics, starting with the events that I like more after watching the games.

1. The Cycling Points Race. Indoor cycling was one of the last events that I started to watch online. The event that really caught my attention was an event called the Points Race. In a points race about 15 cyclists all ride the track together for about 200 laps. Every 10 laps the top four places gets points and they get mega bonus points if they lap the field. The winner is the person with the most points at the end of the race. The races go quickly and due to the regular scoring and attempts to lap the field there is always something going on.

2. Archery. I had a faint idea that I liked watching archery before the Olympics this year, but this was the first sport that I started to watch from and it is probably the only event that I watched every match in. The skill of the archers is amazing, the rounds are tense, and the point scoring system isn’t messed up like in darts (the bull’s-eye is actually the target in archery).

3. Swimming. Of course it helps that Michael Phelps won all the men's races that I watched, but increasing from absolutely no interest is a win. My viewing of this sport is the opposite of archery, all of it was on TV and none of it was on the internet. I doubt that I will seek out to watch more swimming until the next Olympics, but of what I saw this year it was very exciting, and easily broadcast on TV (they seem to have the attention span of a two year old with their coverage).

4. Synchronized Swimming. Yes, the perpetual laughing stalk of the Olympics gained a few marks in my book this year. I only watched one routine and it was the one that gave Russia the gold medal, but it was very impressive. For a country that likes gymnastics so much, and Dancing with the Stars, we really should be paying more attending to this event. It is very impressive what they can do while swimming.

5. Badminton. I came into the Olympics with the general idea that badminton was a fun sport, but after watching a couple rounds the speed and sweet shuttle action put it over the top for me. Every time I watched a match it made me want to break out a birdie and get to playing. I even contemplated buying a full badminton set at the sporting goods store. The Olympic competitions were quick and the players were even quicker. Unfortunately no amount of marketing can make that sport seem cool to the masses.

Now here are five events that got demerits in my book. And you don't want to get demerits in my book, because that means you lose, you lose the game.

1. Sprint Cycling. This is a huge flop for me. The first event in indoor cycling that I saw was the Points Race, see above, which rocks. So I thought that maybe all indoor cycling events were so awesome. Boy was I wrong. If I said that we were going to have a sprint race what do you thing a winning strategy would be? Would it be to go as slow as possible to get the other people to be in front of you? Does standing still sound like a logical way to win a sprint race? No, no it doesn't. However in a Cycling Sprint race drafting plays such a huge role that a person must not be in first place until the last second to win. This means that the first two laps around the tack is actually spent going as slow as possible, at sometimes even to a stand still, to get the other person to take the lead. This event is living proof of FAIL.

2. Boxing. For some reason I don't mind boxing. I am not a 'fighting' kind of guy but I appreciate the rawness of a sport that has one goal: to punch the blood out of your opponent's face. However the Olympic committee was able to screw this one up because of the points system that was as broken as a world record in event that Usain Bolt competed in. Instead of watching the bouts I would watch the lack of scoring on punches that were obviously placed square on the dual air intake manifolds. The problems were compounded by the announcers pointing out the punches that weren't scored as well. Maybe the scoring system in boxing is always this broke, but at least if the results are hidden during the fight I can a least focus on the punches and not on the trips that give you points.

3. Rhythmic Gymnastics with Clubs. I understand that there is a need to include fluffy events in the Olympics; however the Club event in Rhythmic Gymnastics was just horrible. I only caught a couple of these performances, but they were right after the Hoop events, which, at least had its moments. There were no parts of the Club routines where I thought anything was cool, but there were many times where the awkwardness of a maneuver made me think that the event organizers ran out of ideas and they just threw in Clubs as a joke to see who would actually do it. If they wanted to improve Rhythmic Gymnastics they need to drop the Clubs and use a baton instead, or just add a bear to the equation. Fending off a wild animal while catching objects thrown high into the air? Yes, that would be worthy of some gold.

4. Wrestling. I am sorry, but this one just didn't have a chance. I don't like this event in the first place, but I thought that I could at least make it through a couple of matches. I couldn't. To me Wrestling always seems like a glorified version of fighting with a sibling, and the fact that the competitors wear a one piece suit doesn't help. I don't think that there is much that can be done about this sport either. It is ancient so it is going to stay in the games, however the awkwardness of the grappling action means that it can never gain respect.

5. Handball. This was the biggest disappointment for me this year. When I heard of the Olympics being online this year I first thought of my chance to be able to watch all the Handball games. It turns out that I watched only a handful of the games and none of them all the way though. Handball is like a combination of basketball and lacrosse, which would seem like an interesting sport, but it turns out to be as exciting as water polo, actually maybe less exciting because the plays in handball all look the same: defense lines up along the arc boundary, then the offense passes around the ball until someone can make a run in and throw the ball into the corner of the goal. This strategy is played back and forth for far too many minutes. The goals come too often and there are too many players on the court to make for a more complex strategy. Handball just isn't fun to watch.

I am interested to hear what events you liked or disliked more after the Olympics this year. Throw me a comment.


B.E. Earl said...

I only watched on TV this year, but the sports I enjoyed were:

Usain Bolt - a sport unto himself
Phelps - ditto

And I kinda liked watching my girlfriend get outraged at the underage girls on the Chinese gymnastics team. That was fun.

Besides that, the Olympics are a great big fail in my book.

The Math Ninja said...

I got excited about swimming for probably the first time in my life. I know I'm just a bandwagon fan, but the performances of Phelps and his teams were pretty awesome.