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There we sat at the pizzeria, transfixed by badminton.
A group of us were having lunch at a big ol' suburban pizza place (Jerseys on Barrington Road just north of I-90) Sunday with our kids after they scored a big win in a youth baseball tournament (thereby validating their parents - time to celebrate!).
And the match was playing out on a big screen mounted in a wall over the large bar in the middle of the place. There were four or six smaller screens arrayed around the big one - this would be a heck of a place to take in a football game or seven on a fall Sunday.
The main thing I know about badminton is that it is the answer to a favorite trivia question, one of the few that I can remember off the top of my head when a random conversation turns to the exchange of clever little sports facts. The question is: What is the second-most popular participatory sport in the world?
Silly me. I just posited a question when the answer is already out there (badminton is huge in China and highly populated southeast Asian countries).
Who am I, NBC? By the way, I'm guessing you guessed the first most popular participatory sport is soccer.
The Olympics cannot be about what NBC has been serving up in prime time so far. Surely in this hyper-connected day and age there has to be more acknowledgement paid to the fact that events have already happened. Can't the prime time coverage be real good highlights and analysis packages?
Instead we get swim races and gymnastics competitions in which the announcers don't know what happened but we do. This isn't working!
Finally there was something timely and topical late Sunday. There was good old Bela Karolyi, fulminating about the injustice of American gymnast Jordyn Wieber not making the all-around final even though she had the fourth-highest preliminary point total. She had the great misfortune of being on a team that is so good that two of her teammates grabbed spots in the top three. And only two of the top three gymnasts from a given team can advance to the final.
I'm not saying fill prime time with more Bela, although it is good to see the old coach who has been on the scene for how many decades now (?) is still going strong. And it was outrageous that Wieber was denied a spot in the final by a rule that was strangely added to gymnastics world meets only in the last few years. This is something Americans can rally around - righteous indignation! How dare you cheat one of our girl gymnasts out of her rightful chance at glory!
But returning now to pretending stuff is live when everyone knows it isn't. This is ridiculous! And please remember that we take the word "ridiculous" very, very seriously around here. We only bust it out at absolutely critical times.
As for the badminton match, well, Team USA took one on the chin. It must be said these guys were already fashion losers before the match even started. They were sporting yellow shirts. I think you have to keep trying to put something together involving red, white or blue, people - that is a goodly amount of choices. Make it happen next time.
The team from Malaysia rolled to a victory but the match was entertaining for the novelty and for the fact that we didn't know who was going to win until the last slam came down just inside a sideline.
One of these days the networks will know too.
Jim "Coach" Coffman is our man on Mondays. He welcomes your comments.
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