Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Wed July 30: Accelerating the Countdown to Beijing

Sorry about yesterday, I ran into several computer problems that I needed to fix. With things better now, I can say that from here on out until the Closing Ceremony, it will be all Olympics, all the time. Most of the sports world has taken a bit of a break with the Beijing Olympic Games just less than 10 days away. If any sports events are going on at all, it either has nothing to do with the Games (like MLB or Rugby) or are Olympic tune-up events.

So since the Olympics are the main focus of the sports world, we'll focus solely on that. However if anything major happens outside of the Olympics, NOW Sports will at least mention it.

With that said, let's get you caught up on the latest Olympic news.

Iraqi Athletes Will Compete in Beijing After All
I'm not sure if you heard about this last week, but Iraq was banned from competing in this year's Olympic games due to government involvement in the country's national Olympic Committee. A country that sent a dream football team to Athens four years ago and made the semifinal round had their Olympic dreams dashed as of last week.

But then negotiations between the IOC and the Iraqi National Olympic Committee helped to give the go-ahead for at least two Iraqi athletes to compete in the Athletics program in Beijing.

IOC Press Release (29 July 2008)

Raj Bhavsar To Take Hamm's Place in Beijing
After news of Paul Hamm's withdrawal from the Olympics broke on Monday, the immediate question was who would compete in his place. From the three alternates, the Olympic selection committee chose Raj Bhavsar to take the open spot on the team.

The story regarding his selection is a story within itself, one that was interesting enough before Paul Hamm withdrew from the Games. In 2004, he had trained and worked hard looking for a spot on the team that would travel to Athens.

“In ’04 maybe my mindset was a little young. I thought I needed it. I NEEDED to be an Olympian. Or else, what was I?" Bhavsar said in an interview with Inside Gymnastics earlier this year.

He was denied a spot on the team and instead named as an alternate. He almost retired from the sport before returning to gymnastics with a better mindset. "Now, it’s like, I WANT it. If I don’t get it, life goes on. There are many other things out there," Bhavsar said.

Bhavsar finished in third place at the all-around competition at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Philadelphia. His third place finish included a top score in the parallel bars with a 15.700. But like what happened four years ago, Bhavsar was named as an alternate to the team.

So at the expense of Paul Hamm, Bhavsar's dreams have finally come true and he will compete in this year's Olympic Games.

Also see:
Finally, Raj Makes It (DNA India)

A Double Dose of "WHAT UP?! Media"
NOW Sports missed last week's edition of out look at sports media coverage because of our huge Ultimate Olympic Preview. So this week, we'll provide you two helpings of this weekly feature.

NBC Plans to Call Part of the Games from New York, Not China
This news was actually released last week via Awful Announcing and the Chicago Tribune. It's quite surprising to learn that NBC will be continuing a trend that has risen in sports broadcasting lately. As Americans are slowly being exposed to sports in other countries, we slowly recognize that many announcers that call these sports aren't even live at the event.

The practice of calling games off monitors is not unprecedented. World Championship Sports Network (WCSN), now known as Universal Sports, does this all the time with their track and field meets that they broadcast, and the result is terrible. Each European meet that they show is called off of monitors from their headquarters in California by Danny Lee and Carol Lewis and it is very obvious that they are not on site at the meet.

Their announcing always has some sort of hesitation in their voice, there are frequent mistakes and both announcers do not have a full grasp of what is going on at the meet. Granted that Danny Lee is a young announcer still gaining experience, but Carol Lewis has done this for several years and has yet to improve in her analytical and vocal skills.

I think Universal Sports is a nice avenue for young sportscasters to practice and gain experience in the profession. But when it comes to several top-name events, like the Olympics, the network should rely on world feed broadcasters.

ESPN had to learn the hard way when they called the Euro 2008 football games from their studios in Bristol, Connecticut. In the semifinal match between Turkey and Germany, violent lightning storms interrupted the world feed and prevented ESPN commentators in Bristol from calling the game. Had they been live at the stadium, ESPN could have possibly provided play-by-play over the telephone, like what BBC did. While ESPN has done very well in calling football (soccer) games from monitors, the benefits of being at the venue itself are greatly advantageous.

Which is why it is rather disappointing to see that some commentators will not be live in Beijing to call several events for NBC. Though it is an issue of money, the Olympics aren't an event to go cheap on. Maybe NBC would be better off using world feed commentators who are at the venue, especially if they know more about the sport they are calling than those who were hired by NBC (no offense to Bill Clement who will be calling badminton off of monitors in New York).

Future sportscasters should take note: practice calling games off of the TV monitors, it might become a thing of the future.

NOW Sports Plans Round the Clock Coverage of Beijing Olympics

The Olympics are my favorite event ever. Ever. And I have always envisioned how I would be able to cover the Olympics, whether as a journalist, as a television producer or a pure fan of sport. With the power of this blog, I unveil to you how the Network of Olympic World Sports will cover the Games of the XXIX Olympiad.

NOW Sports' coverage of the Beijing 2008 Olympics will begin at 7AM EDT on 8/08/08, a full hour before the Opening Ceremonies start in Beijing, China. We'll provide a preview of the ceremony and the final preparations being made before the competition starts. Then at 8AM EDT, we'll provide hourly updates on the latest that is going on at the National Stadium as the historic ceremonies unfold and provide a full recap at the conclusion of the ceremonies.

Then starting at 6PM EDT, when Day 1 of competition at the Olympic Games begins, NOW Sports will provide updates EVERY HALF HOUR as live competition occurs at the Olympic Venues in and around Beijing. Each update will provide the latest news and gold medal results as well as the latest TV listings in the United States. NOW Sports will provide the appropriate SPOILER ALERTS and when to watch certain events.

The LIVE HALF-HOUR UPDATES will commence at 6PM EDT, at the start of the competition day, every day from Friday, August 8 to Wednesday, August 20 (I leave for college on Thursday, August 21). The live updates will run continuously throughout the night until competition concludes the next morning.

In addition, NOW Sports will provide a LIVE BLOG for certain events, including swimming, track and field, basketball, football (soccer), volleyball and gymnastics, throughout the Olympic Games on our alternate site: The LIVE BLOGGING begins with the preliminary football matches on Wednesday, August 6 at 5AM. A full LIVE BLOG schedule will be released later this week and a chronological competition schedule with accompanying television schedule, will be released each night before the competition day in Beijing begins.

After August 20, NOW Sports will do updates as much as possible until the Closing Ceremonies on Sunday, August 24.

Before the Games begin, NOW Sports will continue to provide the latest news on Olympic tune-up tournaments, previews on the competition and updates on the preparations.

Then during the games, log onto NOW Sports Daily and the accompanying LIVE BLOG at during the Olympic Games to complement your viewing experience of the Games on NBC.

Beijing 2008 is destined to be a historic sporting event and a benchmark in the history of the nation of China and of the world. Let NOW Sports be your guide throughout the unprecedented event.

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BEIJING 2008 Tentative NBC Schedule (BLOG POSTS BELOW...)