How to Deal with Olympic Overdose

Although I don’t watch a lot of sports on TV, I get really excited every couple of years when the Olympics roll around (both the summer and winter games).

The Olympics gives me an abundance of sports, both in terms of variety and amount. I gravitate towards the contests that are quantifiable: points, goals, time, and distance, but not so much the judged events.

Each day throughout the Olympics I record 10 to 15 hours of sporting spectaculars, attempting to condense the best aspects into three hours of viewing pleasure each evening and a bit more on the weekends. Even so, I can’t keep up.

Aside from doing my regular work, I don’t accomplished much else during the Olympics.

Though I greatly anticipate the Olympics and excitedly watch the Olympics, I’m also glad when the Olympics are over and life can return to normal.

And normal is right around the corner for me — as soon as I watch the final 15 hours of recordings.

Super Ads for the Super Bowl

Like many people I watched the Super Bowl and the Super Bowl Ads.

The game was a good one, with the outcome in doubt up until the very end.

The commercials were good, too. Many were creative and smart. But I was so drawn in by others that I missed the product being promoted. Although I was entertained, these ads failed at their primary mission: to inform or sway.

As always, I enjoyed the e-Trade ad and Doritos user-generated spots. I especially appreciated Matthew Broderick playing off his Ferris Bueller role, but don’t know what product he was promoting.

The ad I enjoyed the most, however, as a local spot that I believed aired at 5:59, right before the official coverage began. In it, US Senate hopeful, Pete Hoekstra, had a great ad that cleverly called his opponent Debbie Stabenow, “Debbie-Spend-it-Now.”

Although some people without a sense of humor are decrying the ad as racist, these purveyors of political correctness are choosing to miss the point. Michigan’s current senator has spent too much of taxpayer dollars, while her opponent, “Pete-Spend-it-Not” has a different idea.

Regardless of the controversy, that ad is my Super Bowl highlight.

What a Shock!

I’m a casual follower of the professional sports teams in my home state of Michigan.  While it is unlikely that I ever watch a complete game, I do check out a play or two if I’m channel surfing and periodically go online to see how these various teams are fairing.

Realizing that the WNBA season is underway, I went to the Detroit Shock’s website to see how their year was shaping up.  Boy was I in for a shock — during the off-season they were sold and moved to Tulsa!

I scanned the roster for familiar names; only one of last year’s players remained.  Now called the Tulsa Shock, with a new coach and new jerseys, the only other thing they retained is Detroit’s history of winning three WNBA championships.

There was, however, another familiar name listed.  Familiar not from the sport of basketball, but from track and field.  Her name?  Marion Jones.  Yes, that Marion Jones.  At age 34, she is the league’s oldest rookie — and her team’s eldest player.  Retiring from her original sport in disgrace, she is seemingly seeking a comeback in another.

Although this is an interesting development, her team needs more; they are currently 4 and 19, with the worst record in the WNBA.

What Matters Most Is How You Finish

Last night I finished watching the rest of the Olympic coverage that I recorded, including the closing ceremonies.  Now I can recap the games, albeit a couple of days late.

The 2010 Winter Olympics didn’t start out well for Canada with a fatal accident on the luge, a significant mechanical malfunction during the opening ceremonies, a couple of ice resurfacing machines that refused to properly resurface, and weather that didn’t cooperate.  Added to that was the pressure the host country athletes felt to medal, especially to earn gold, and there were many initial disappointments.

However, as is true with any competition, it matters not how well you start, but how well you finish — and Canada finished strong, brilliantly and brightly shining.  Not only did they claim their first ever gold medal on Canadian soil, but then went on to earn 13 more to go with it, setting a record for the winter games.  They also finished third in the overall medal count.  (The US led, also setting a record.)

The Canadian fans were loyal and enthusiastic supporters of their athletes and set great examples of good sportsmanship.  They also know and love to sing their national anthem, setting a high bar for other countries to emulate.

The closing ceremonies were a true celebration.  Cleverly and humorously responding to the mechanical mishaps of 16 days prior, they made a memorable impression and showed that flawless perfection is outclassed by a smart recovery.

Canada, host of the 2010 Winter Olympics, we salute you!

My Fever is Finally Starting to Subside

My fever is finally starting to subside — Olympic fever that is.  Although the 2010 Winter Olympics is officially over, I still have a few recorded items to watch.  Midway through the event, our DVR had a scant three hours of available recording space, but we did make it through the entire Olympics without filling it up.  (We can record two channels simultaneously, so we missed some of the coverage.  Had we been able to record four simultaneous channels, we would have surely filled up the hard drive.)

I’ve already mentioned several of the events.  As for those contests that fit into the “sledding” category, I like the 4-“person” bobsled the best, followed by the 2-“person” version.  Since they are traveling at 95 MPH, it’s good that they are inside a vehicle to afford some protection.  Although not as fast — relatively speaking — the luge and skeleton seem a bit too daring and foolhardy to undertake, with the 2-man luge being just too weird to watch.

I also enjoyed the pursuit, cross country skiing, alpine skiing, and especially the halfpipe (even though it is a “judged” event).

The Olympics treated us to some great hockey, with the men’s gold medal match being one of the best games ever.  Though I am happy that Canada won gold on their home soil in both men’s and women’s hockey, I was pulling hard for the USA to prevail in both.  Even so, a silver medal is something to be most proud of — which, sadly, the US men were yet to realize at the medal ceremony.

I skipped most of the figure skating and ice dancing, though I did catch the gold medal performances.  It was not until the medalists performed in the Gala event, that I was able to truly enjoy their artistry, grace, and skill.  At that point, there is no judging pressure and the skate can be rendered — and enjoyed — as pure art.

Although I devoted too much of my spare time the last two weeks to watching Olympic coverage, it served as a welcome diversion from our Michigan winter.  I figure that once I’ve made it through February, spring is right around the corner, so it’s all good!

Olympic Fever

I have Olympic fever.  Do you?

My DVR has been busily recording all the televised coverage of the 2010 Winter Olympics and I have been hopelessly endeavoring to keep up.  The only way to completely do so would be to cease working for two weeks, which, although inviting, is not a viable option.  So the next best solution is to be selective in the events I enjoy and fast-fingered with the buttons on the remote.

I gravitate towards those events that are evaluated by time or distance, eschewing those that are judged.  Of course, those events that have both, such as ski jumping (distance and style), present a quandary.

I best like the short-track skating, and am especially amused by the fast-paced, organized confusion of the relay.  The long-track/speed staking is good too, though with the longer races, I find myself skimming through the middle sections.  (This often happens with any momentary boredom — after all, why be bored when I have 30 hours of unviewed material awaiting me?)  I also greatly like the snowboard cross, likely for the same reasons I enjoy the short-track.  Even so, the frequent wipeouts seem so unfair.

I’ve enjoyed the biathlon (which I just realized, I’ve been pronouncing with an extra syllable), which is a combo of cross-country skiing and rifle shooting.  I readily admit to not grasping the strange combination of events or its appeal — though any sport to the uninitiated is undoubtedly a bit strange and perplexing.  Even more perplexing is the Nordic combined (ski jumping and cross-country skiing.)  Then there is curling, which simultaneously draws in and repels me.  I watch it — and don’t know why.

For the sake of time, I’m skipping hockey until we get closer to the medal rounds.

Figure skating, reportedly the most popular event, is one that I mostly skip.  First, I don’t like that fact that it is judged and second that the focus of the judging is on the negative, losing points for being less than perfect, instead of earning points for being stellar.

There’s more to share, but that will have to wait — I think the DVR is getting filled up.

Super Bowl Game and Super Bowl Ads

By now, anyone who cares knows that the New Orleans Saints won the Super Bowl last night.  The Colts came out strong, dominating the first quarter and building up a nice lead.  The momentum shifted in the second quarter, even though the lead did not.  After a halftime show with the Who — great production, no so great performance — the Saints returned invigorated.  The game was close until the final few minutes when the Saints pulled ahead, winning by 14.

Now, what about the commercials?  In a word good: there were some duds, but several notable ones.  (See my top ten list from two years ago; I merely offered a commentary for 2009).

Here are my top picks from the 2010 Super Bowl:

Doritos – Casket
Doritos – Underdog
Doritos – House Rules
Timothy Richman – Cars.com 2010 Super Bowl Ad
Bridgestone – Killer Whale (but what’s with the “bachelor party” reference?)
E*TRADE Baby – Girlfriend
Budweiser – Bridge
Diamond Foods – Emerald Nuts & Pop Secret
Monster – Beaver
Bud Light – Voice Box
Bud Light – Lighthouse
McDonalds – LeBron & Dwight Howard (I missed this one, but saw it online — did it really air?)
Focus on the Family – Tim Tebow Ad was tasteful, cute, and not at all objectionable.  It is sad that some choose to condemn it without actually seeing it.

There were too many spots for cars and movies, as well as online TV, so many that they became a blur.

As far as Doritos’s customer generated content, those were the winners for me — and an innovative way to advertise, hinting at what might be to come.  The three ads that I picked as winners were all aired!  Plus a fourth one was shown for good measure.  Interestingly, my theory that ad views would equate to ad votes did not pan out.

(By the way, last night, my bride and I were at a coffee house with friends during the game, while my DVR recorded the event at home.  Lacking a TV, patronage at the coffee house was understandably sparse.  Also, the ladies significantly outnumbered the guys.  When our group dispersed, we then returned home, watching all the plays and commercials in about two hours.)

Vikings and Packers and Lions! Oh, My!

With Brett Favre playing for the Minnesota this year, I have become a bit of a Vikings fan.  In most games, Favre has treated fans to spectacular plays and contagious enthusiasm that defy his years (he is 40).  With each game, he seemingly breaks someone else’s record or extends one of his own.  Besides, he’s just fun to watch.  Tomorrow, Minnesota plays New Orleans, the prize of which is a trip to the Super Bowl.  I’ll be watching — and rooting.

Favre’s former team, my long-time favs, the Green Bay Packers, had a good season, earning a wild card spot in the post season.  Aside from their first and last plays of their playoff game, their offensive push against Arizona was stellar.  Alas, they ended up on the short end with an overtime 51 to 45, season-ending loss.

For my state’s semi-pro team, the Detroit Lions, their season ended even sooner — though perhaps not soon enough for the hapless underdogs.  Nevertheless, there is much for them to celebrate, having improved this year over last year:

  • They didn’t go winless.
  • They won two games.
  • They didn’t have the worst record (the Rams earned that distinction, only winning once).
  • They finished the year with only a 6 game losing streak (as I recall, last year they finished with a 17 game losing streak).
  • The Lions will get the second pick of the draft!

The Vikings and Packers and Lions!  Oh, my!

Brett Favre versus the Green Bay Packers

After watching and cheering for Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers for so many years, it is disconcerting to watch Brett Favre playing against the Green Bay Packers.  This happened for the second time — and the first time at Green Bay — when Favre’s new team, the Minnesota Vikings, invaded the territory of his old  team on Sunday.

On more than one occasion I became flummoxed over who I was rooting for.  To cheer on Green Bay implied ill-will towards Favre, while backing Favre — and his Vikings — was disrespectful of my longtime favorite Packers.  It was quite conflicting, with the real possibility that whoever was victorious would be a bitter-sweet moment for me.

However, Green Bay played admirably, with Favre, once again proving his greatness, which along with his child-like enthusiasm for the game, made the resulting Minnesota victory most satisfying.

It Had to Happen – Eventually

It was inevitable; it had to happen sometime.  The Detroit Lions finally won a football game.

Yesterday they snapped a 19 game losing streak, spanning of all the 2008 season and going back to December of 2007.  Yes, 2007 — that’s nineteen months of winless football and sheer agony for the hapless Lion fans.

I anticipated that there would be massive celebration and veritable pandemonium when the long-awaited victory was realized, but the reaction was quite subdued.  It was as if the win merely ended an unhappy chapter, to which everyone wanted to turn the page and forget.

Although I watched very little of the game, I was periodically checking the score during the commercial breaks of the Hallmark movie I was watching.  Even so, I did record the last few minutes so that I could witness the results.  (I “watch” football by recording the game and then during playback I press the “advance 30 seconds” button at the conclusion of each play, usually bringing me close to the next snap.  It’s a great way to enjoy a game without being subjected to the inane chatter and numerous replays.)  What took 15 minutes to televise was about 60 seconds of actual football.

Although the Lions led the entire game and reportedly dominated the first half, Washington did mount a brilliant comeback attempt with a potential game winning play at 8 seconds remaining.  (Last year the Lions failed to snap their losing streak when their opponents scored the game winner with 9 seconds left.  I would not have been surprised had history repeated itself.)

Even so, the Lions now have a one game winning streak and at a scant three games into the season have already bettered last year’s record.