Three out of every four years, this is the point in the summer where sports cease to matter for me on their usual day-to-day basis. The Mets are inevitably out of the playoff picture (check), the Sabres have underwhelmed in an offseason in which they needed to pick up the pieces from a disastrous finish to last season (check), the Bills look promising but for the fact that they're the Buffalo Fucking Bills (check), and the various European footy leagues are still a couple weeks away (check). Summer provides its own distractions of day drinking and beach visits and eye candy throughout the five boroughs (well... four, since Staten Island is, well, Staten Island). And of course there's MLS action which continues to impress, particularly with the Red Bulls (who, incidentally, I caught live Tuesday night when they played Tottenham... I'd recap that match but, let's be real, I was drinking, coming off a separate four day bender and there's not much to say than that the Spurs looked pretty good when they tried and that they showed why the MLS still has a few years/decades to catch up with the quality of top-notch European clubs).
But, one of every four years, we get the Olympics to keep us busy in late July/early August so that we don't have to feel quite so down about the Mets or the Sabres or the Bills (or whatever other shit burger squads you happen to follow) each looking like minor league organizations trying to keep pace with the big boys. I've always been a huge fan of the Summer Olympics since it plays the role of gap-filler and since it typically happens while I have a little bit more free time than usual to watch endless hours of sports I know nothing about and drink enough tallboys to convince myself that I'm actually an expert. Back in '08, I absorbed the Beijing games on the heels of taking the NY bar exam, which worked out perfectly even if my family did start to question my motive in watching back-to-back matches of women's beach volleyball. (Spoiler: it was the ass shots, of course). This year, I have a little bit less free time, being employed and all, though I did get to check out quite a lot of it during a three day bachelor party weekend, and have kept up with the bigger goings-on since getting back to NYC Monday night.
(1) The Opening Ceremonies were, as always, hilarious and awful. I watched them while in a beach house down in Delaware as we kicked off the aforementioned Bachelor Party shenanigans, and if it wasn't for the room full of snarky friends and PBR, not to mention the available lawn games that kept us busy throughout the weekend, I would have been fucking miserable. In the end, the Brits proved that, while they do small-scale entertainment very well, they weren't well-suited for a large-scale, live event like this. Not to mention that NBC's coverage was utterly sanctimonious, but more on those peacock assholes later.
Oh, and if you're keeping score at home, the guy who seemingly threw it all away by becoming a pot-smoking burnout has two silvers and a gold this year. Yeah, you're right. He sucks.
(3) I, along with the rest of the country it seems, was super pumped to see the US Women's (read: teenagers) Gymnastics Team win gold. It was the first time since 1996 that the US had done this, which I suppose is a long time if you have an enormous chip on your shoulder about being the best at fucking everything (except literacy, math, science, environmental protections, human rights and poverty rates.... AMERICA!!). On top of that, the victory came at the expense of a Russian team who basically fell apart in the end, reduced to tears following their balanced beam disaster and then the shit show that was their floor routines. I shouldn't take as much pleasure as I do in laughing at the misfortune of others, but fuck it if I wasn't laughing hysterically and chanting USA while my wife tried to research how quickly divorces can be processed in New York.
(5) As for the USMNT, well, THEY DIDN'T MAKE THE FUCKING TOURNAMENT BECAUSE THEY DREW WITH FUCKING EL SALVADOR. Good job, gentlemen.
(6) My final thought, if only because I can't rationalize taking the time to rail on the stupidity of fencing, the hilarity of table tennis or the sheer dumbcockery of water polo, is that NBC fucking blows. This has been well-covered in a lot of places, but the idea that NBC doesn't show the best moments of the Olympics live is maddening. I understand that they want those moments for prime time, but it's not mutually exclusive. When Phelps broke the record of most medals by winning his 19th, NBC was showing rowing. And not even medal round rowing, but some semifinal heats that no one except Ivy League pussies give two shit about (exaggeration, clearly; there are pussies who care about it who didn't go to an Ivy, I'm sure). As for the US Women's Gymnastics win, that wasn't broadcast live, either, leaving viewers with a wide-array of choices such as a horse jumping over a fucking fence. Why can't NBC show stuff live during the day, and then again at night for the people with jobs and no access to internet during the day? Why continue this charade of make-believing that events are happening at 2:30 am in the UK? NBC's spoiler gaffe of showing a teaser for Missy Franklin with a gold medal on the Today Show before they actually broadcast her gold medal win was bound to happen. It's as if their Olympics broadcast coverage is run by 70 year old men who don't understand the internet and believe that the average American is naïve to the workings of time zones (that might actually be true). Granted, their online offerings are great and diverse and - yes - fucking LIVE, so there are options for fans. But, the availability of their online streams - which, often, are choppy at best since they're often the only place where you can see stuff as it happens and since NBC didn't man up with enough server space, apparently - illustrates how silly their broadcast decisions are. And this doesn't even touch the human interest bullshit they shove down our throats or the fact that they have Doc Emrick calling women's water polo.
The good news is that NBC only has the rights to the Olympics through 2020 so we'll have more of this shitbaggery to come.
In the meantime, follow me on Twitter and tell me how much of an idiot I am.