Tag Archives: olympics

Remember Al Oerter?

As long as we are on the question of the Olympics, let’s go to the next question.  Based on his collection of medals, is Michael Phelps the greatest Olympian of all time? If medal count were the only criteria, I would say “no.” However, when you consider those medals were won over the course of three Olympics, including a world-dominating performance in 2008, I might vote in his favor.

The problem with looking just at medal count is that some sports, like swimming and, to a lesser extent, gymnastics, have a fair number of events (medal opportunities) that essentially involve the same skill-set.  For example, a dominant freestyle sprinter could win six gold medals by basically doing the same thing (swimming one stroke fast for a relatively short distance) in six events (50m, 100m, 200m, 4x100m relay, 4×200 relay and the 4×100 medley relay).  He or she would not have to even attempt another stroke or any distance events.

How can you compare that to someone like Al Oerter? Anyone remember Al Oerter? I’m dating myself  here. Oerter was an American discus thrower, who won the Olympic gold medal in four consecutive games, 1956-Melbourne, 1960-Rome, 1964-Tokyo and 1968-Mexico City. That is amazing! But someone like Oerter could never rack up a medal-count like Phelps because there is only one discus event in each game. There is not a light-discus, a heavy-discus, a free-style discus, a discus-relay, a weight-throwing medley, etc.

So I think Phelps is certainly one of the greatest, if not the greatest. I just don’t get hung up on the total number of medals to reach that conclusion.

So what’s on tonight?

Olympic time shifting

I have to confess; I am an Olympic junkie. All this week, I have been staying up way past my bedtime to catch the latest swimming final or gymnastics triumph/tragedy.

There have been some side-questions that have received a lot of discussion. One involves “Olympic spoilers.”  Some people are upset because they want to watch the tape-delayed prime time telecasts as if they were live. That is, without knowing the outcome of the competition.  These days they have trouble doing so because the results are reported everywhere, even on their smart phones.

This isn’t a new issue. It happens every time there is an Olympics overseas.

Actually, one of the hottest time-delayed Olympic telecast controversies involved an event that was held right here in the Eastern Time Zone. In February 1980, the Winter Olympics were held in Lake Placid, New York. The famous “Miracle on Ice” USA upset of the Soviet hockey team was played during prime time. But for some reason, ABC decided the game was not worthy of a live telecast, so they tape-delayed it until 11:30 pm. For non-ABC television stations, the decision was easy – you announce the results. Heck, you break into network programming to announce the results. It was that big of a deal.

But if you are an ABC station, what do you do? Announce the news, or pretend it didn’t happen? News or entertainment? I was a news manager for an ABC station at the time, but frankly, I don’t remember what we did. .My opinion? (You know you were going to get it.) You announce the results as soon as you know them. You’re in the news business, so you report the news.  Don’t worry too much about those viewers who want to be kept in the dark. That’s not your job. People will whine, but you can’t please everyone.