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Posted on: August 31, 2008 9:35 pm
 

Shorten the Night Session at the U.S. Open

The U.S. Open night session traditionally starts at 7 pm in New York with a woman's match, which is followed by a best-of-five-set men's match. To be short: this has to change.

First option would be to shorten the so-called night session to one man's match, starting at 8 pm. It's good for tennis, good for the audience who has more time to get to Flushing and good for TV.

Some people may argue that eliminating the woman's match from the program is not a good idea.

Then, second option: start the evening with the man's match and close it with the woman's match.

The way it is now makes me feel like the woman's match is an opening act that no one really cares about and that lasts too long. And don't tell me that the second match would be played in front of an empty stadium. Equal prize money tells me that women's tennis is at least as popular as men's tennis.

 

Category: Tennis
Posted on: August 18, 2008 8:29 pm
 

NBC Bob Costas Rips Usain Bolt, Live

Bob Costas, of NBC, said that Jamaica's Usain Bolt showed no respect for his competitors, the Olympics and the entire audience for breaking the 100m dash world record, his own world record, by just 300th of a second in the final on Saturday.

I totally understand Mr. Costas. It is exactly how I felt Saturday morning when NBC refused to show the 100m dash final live in the USA. It was broadcast more than 12 hours later.

NBC showed no respect for the competitors, the Olympics and its entire audience.

At least Bolt had a very good reason to showboat. He is an Olympic champion, the fastest man on earth. I can only imagine how it feels to dominate the most important race of the Olympic Games in front of the entire world. Well almost the entire world...

Costas' argument is that Bolt could have done better. Sometimes I wonder if people think before talking. 100m in 9:69 is not good enough for Mr. Costas. It must be that high standards apply only to others.

Category: Olympic Games
Posted on: August 17, 2008 8:08 pm
 

Hey NBC, where is Mark Spitz?

You must all know by now that Michael Phelps won eight swimming gold medals in the Beijing Olympic Games. That’s an all-time record.

The previous record was seven golds, set by American Mark Spitz in Munich in 1972. Numbers don’t lie, Phelps broke Spitz’s record, by 1 medal.

On August 16, Phelps beat Serbia’s Milorad Cavic by 100th of a second in the 100-meter butterfly final to claim his 7th gold medal, which means that Phelps broke Spitz’s record by 100th of a second, the smallest margin possible in the pool.

I don’t mean to minimize Phelps’ record. The man won 16 Olympic medals in his life, including 14 golds. He is probably the greatest swimmer of all time. What he did in Beijing is one the greatest feats in sport history. No question. No discussion.

But, even though what Phelps did had never been done before –he attempted it four years ago in Athens but failed--, it is barely better than Spitz.

Phelps broke seven world records in Beijing, so did Spitz in Munich.

As much as Phelps deserves to be praised and his achievement celebrated, part of what he did was to remind us how fantastic a swimmer Spitz was.

It could have been a nice gesture for somebody to invite him to Beijing. USA Swimming. FINA The IOC. NBC. Somebody.

 

Category: Olympic Games
Tags: Phelps, Spitz
 
Posted on: August 17, 2008 5:07 pm
 

Nadal and Dementieva win Gold in Beijing

For the first time since February 2, 2004, Roger Federer is not at the top of the world rankings. Rafael Nadal, who won the French Open, Wimbledon and the gold medal at the Olympic Games in Beijing, is the new leader of the tennis world.

Federer’s streak of 237 weeks as world no.1 is the longest ever. Pete Sampras’ longest such streak was “only” 102 weeks.

Nadal is the 24th player, and third Spaniard after Juan Carlos and Carlos Moya, to reach the no.1 spot in the world rankings.

Russia’s Elena Dementieva, Dinara Safina and Vera Zvonareva swept the medals at the Olympics in Beijing. With five Russians in the top 10 of the WTA Tour rankings, this sweep is no surprise.

Safina has had the best summer of her life on the tennis court. Don’t be surprised if she reaches the final of the U.S. Open, three weeks from now.

Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka won the doubles gold medal at the Olympics. Federer showed more emotion in one week of doubles play than in years of singles. He also proved that the best singles player in the world can easily dominate the doubles as well. Ask Bob and Mike Bryan what they think of the Swiss master. The American twins earned the bronze in China, Simon Aspelin and Thomas Johansson the silver.

Venus and Serena Williams claimed the doubles gold medal in Beijing, just as they did in Sydney in 2000. They beat Anabel Medina Garrigues and Virginia Ruano Pascual in the final. Yan Zi and Zheng Jie managed to claim the bronze for China.

Fernando Gonzalez lost to Nadal in the final in Beijing. He now has 3 Olympic medals, silver and bronze in singles and gold in doubles that he claimed with Nicolas Massu in Athens, in 2004.

Novak Djokovic earned the bronze medal for Serbia. He went to the final at the U.S. Open last year, losing to Federer in the final. He may go all the way this year.

Posted on: August 12, 2008 8:45 pm
 

Thank You China

It has become quite popular, in the now much heralded blogosphere as well as in the old media of the Western world, to criticize, often harshly, the Chinese and the decision to grant them the rights to host the Olympic Games in Beijing.

Some of those critics are definitely legitimate. The Chinese government is not better than other governments across the world, and no one could be happier than me to see socialist regimes collapse, as they all do eventually. We could all use more freedom and respect for differences.

But, it is also legitimate to praise the Chinese will to please us, in the United States, when they do.

I guess that if you made it to this page, it is because you enjoy the Games and probably watch the swimming finals every night. And, you will agree, they have been pretty fantastic so far. Who would have thought that a swimming relay could generate so much excitement? Beating the French is always a source of great pride, that’s understandable.

But have you thought about the fact that the race took place at 5 in the morning in France and 11, that same morning, in Beijing? The only reason why you had the chance and pleasure to enjoy it “live on prime time,” (at least on the east coast) is because the IOC and the BOCOG (Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad) agreed to schedule the swimming finals in the morning.

They also moved the gymnastic finals and that is a bigger deal. Gymnastic is a major sport in China. Li Ning, who won six medals at the Los Angeles Olympic games in 1984, was chosen to ignite the cauldron during the Opening Ceremony. The men’s Chinese team claimed the gold medal yesterday, at the end of a competition that started at 10 in the morning. And trust me, 10 am is no prime time in China.

But this sets a precedent. A dangerous precedent? Only time will tell. All we can do for now is imagine what it could be like in the future when China has become the true commercial superpower that many fear today.

The NBA is big in China. Yao Ming doesn’t receive all his All-Star votes from Houston Rockets fans. Most of them come straight from China, over the internet, after all. A few years from now, CCTV, promising 900 million viewers, may ask the NBA commissioner to have the All-Star Game played at 9 in the morning in New York, on Saturday. Who would refuse to expose its product to nearly 1 billion people? (It would be 3 in the afternoon in Western Europe). Certainly not the NBA. You imagine the Garden going crazy at 9 in the morning?

But it would be very ungrateful of us to even think about complaining.

But don’t worry too much. It is very unlikely to happen. The NBA All-Star Game will be played in Shanghai, China before Lakers fans have to get up at 6 in the morning to watch it live from New York.

Anyway, for now, I say thank you China.

Category: Olympic Games
Posted on: August 10, 2008 9:15 pm
 

Iran, Israel, Russia, Georgia

Iranian swimmer Mohammad Alirezaei has pulled out of the Olympic Games on Saturday because of illness.
The 100-meter breaststroke swimmer was carried to a hospital in Beijing, according to the Iranian Swimming Federation officials.
Alirezaei was the first Iranian swimmer to book a spot in the Olympics.

That’s the Iranian official story. You can read it at here.

Others have suggested he wouldn’t compete because Tom Beeri of Israel was in the same heat.

That was on Saturday.

On Sunday morning, David Blatt and the captain of the Iran basketball team Mohammadsamad Nikkhah spoke and embraced moments after Russia defeated Iran 71-49. The level of basketball was horrible. Iran scored 5 points in the first quarter. But it doesn't matter here.

What matters is that Blatt, who was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and is now the coach of the Russian team, is Israeli. He visited the Israeli delegation in the Olympic Village twice, including a meeting and photo-op with President Shimon Peres.

Blatt declared that the Olympics are above politics. "Only in the Olympics can an Israeli coach shake the hand of an Iranian player," he said.

Russia's Natalia Paderina and Georgia's Nino Salukvadze must agree with Blatt. Paderina and Salukvadze hugged and kissed after the women’s 10-meter air pistol competition on Sunday. Paderina won the silver medal, Salukvadze took the bronze.

Their countries are at war in South Ossetia, a breakaway region of Georgia that has support from Moscow.

"This is the beauty of sport," Blatt said after the basketball game. "As soon as you start running you forget everything and remember that we are all the same. Unfortunately, politics is not in the hands of the regular people and the athletes."

Unfortunately, politics is not in the hands of the regular people and the athletes.

Category: Olympic Games
Posted on: August 9, 2008 4:26 pm
Edited on: August 9, 2008 10:37 pm
 

Are you sure you don't like the Olympics?

I hear that some people, who usually like sports and competition, don’t care much about the Olympics. To be honest, that doesn’t make sense to me. But I won’t attempt to change anybody’s mind. What would be the point of that? I can only tell you why I like the Olympic Games.

On Sunday, August 10, 2008, four of the greatest athletes of all time, Michael Phelps, Roger Federer, Ronaldinho and Kobe Bryant will all be in action on the world’s greatest stage.

American Michael Phelps may be the greatest swimmer off all time. He won eight medals in Athens four years ago, six gold and two bronze. On Sunday, he attempts to win the first of the eight races he’ll compete in, in Beijing, the 400-meter individual medley.

Switzerland’s Roger Federer has been atop the tennis world rankings for 236 consecutive weeks. He has won 12 Grand Slam titles. Only Pete Sampras bests that with 14. He is one of the greatest tennis players in history, but has never won an olympic medal. He’s made the gold in Beijing one of his goals for 2008.

Brazil’s Ronaldinho (full name: Ronaldo de Assis Moreira) has won the soccer FIFA World Cup in 2002, the Copa America in 1999 and the Confederation Cup in 2005. He has been named FIFA player of the year twice, in 2004 and 2005. He is in Beijing to help his country win the only soccer trophy it has never won, the Olympic title.

And finally, Kobe Bryant, will make his Olympic debut with the American basketball team. Bryant was named NBA MVP for the 2007-08 season. He is a 10-time NBA All-Star and won three NBA titles with the Los Angeles Lakers. The USA was upset in Athens and couldn't do better than third.

Now, if you don’t like the Olympics, it may be that you don’t really like sports and competition after all.

On a side note, I only wish golf was an Olympic sport. Add Tiger to that list and you have yet another great Nike commercial.

Category: Olympic Games
Posted on: August 9, 2008 3:43 pm
 

Zagunis, Jacobson and Ward Forever

Two weeks from now, when the Beijing Games are over and it is time to see if the US olympic team has managed to top the medal count for the 4th consecutive time, I hope no one will forget those names: Mariel Zagunis, Sada Jacobson and Becca Ward.

The three young women won the first U.S. medals of the Beijing Games, leading an American sweep in women's saber fencing. Zagunis took the gold over Jacobson, who won the silver. Ward took the bronze.

Fencing has been an Olympic sport since the Athens Games in 1896. And never before had one country put three fencers on one podium. For the first time ever, the same flag was raised for all three athletes on the medal platform. 26 Games, 0 sweeps. Zagunis, Jacobson and Ward will forever be the first athletes to accomplish that feat.

To be fair, the women’s saber event was added to the Olympic program for the Athens Games, in 2004. Zagunis won the gold that year, to become the first American in a century to win a fencing gold. Jacobson claimed the bronze. Silver went to China’s Tan Xue. The U.S. women have now captured 5 of the 6 saber medals.

Category: Olympic Games
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com