Browsing All Posts filed under »Olympics«

Blown Calls: How distracting is the human element in sports officiating?

August 17, 2010


We can learn a lot about how sports differ from each other by focusing on the role of the officials — referees, umpires, linesmen, judges, timekeepers, and of course video-replay officials. Some sports involve officials being asked to make very “objective” clear-cut (if often difficult) calls: was serve on the line? who crossed the finish […]

Student essay competition on Ethics, Business, and Sport

May 5, 2010


Do you buy into the mission of This Sporting Life and want to earn some cash explaining why? And are you a student? The International Pierre de Coubertin Committee and the UK-based Institute for Business Ethics are offering £2,000 for the best student essay on “Olympic ideals applied to business.” The competition’s overarching aim is […]

Why is hockey analysis almost always so lame? Part 1

May 4, 2010


My friend Andrew Potter (author of the sizzling new book The Authenticity Hoax) tweeted a link on Friday [when I began writing this post] to a compelling contrast between the two biggest stars in the world of ice hockey, the Russian Alexander Ovechkin and the Canadian Sydney Crosby. The column in question was by Steve Simmons, who has covered hockey […]

Why Medal Counts Don’t Really Count

March 4, 2010


You have to wonder what the ancient Greeks talked about after their Olympic games finished. (I mean, we know what the modern Greeks talked about, or should have talked about, after their Olympics: how the hell are we ever going to pay for this?! Does anybody here have any connections at Bear Stearns?) After all, […]

Who Lost the Vancouver Olympics?

March 2, 2010


The Wall Street Journal may not have won any journalism medals for its failure to foretell which financial institutions on its eponymous street would crumble first. But they have spared us the leg work necessary to figure out which countries did the worst at the Olympics. They have handed out lead, tin, and zinc medals […]

Who Won the Vancouver Olympics?

March 1, 2010


I suppose the official answer to this question is, “The World,” which according to the IOC mission is supposed to be made “peaceful and better” by “educating youth through sport practised in accordance with Olympism and its values.” But of course anybody who asks the question “who won?” really wants to know which country won. The IOC […]

How to Broadcast Curling: notes for 2014

February 28, 2010


Most sporting events I watch on TV are broadcast exactly the way they were when I was a kid and TVs were small, square, and mostly black-and-white. And even worse, games on TV are still “called” the way they were on radio when my dad was a kid, with the play-by-play guy (yes, in the […]

Chess on Ice; Chess Board on Pants

February 28, 2010


There’s an irresistible cliché for broadcasters of many sports: the “chess match.” Often an announcer is simply pointing out that there’s a tight back-and-forth battle going on. But to make sense of the metaphor there has to be some strategic rationality, where player A tries to predict what B will do before A makes her […]

How Good is Women’s Hockey?

February 26, 2010


Pretty good, that’s how good. The gold-medal game, like all of the games I can remember between the only two consistently-elite women’s teams — Canada and the USA — was certainly a thrill from start to finish. But when we ask, “how good is it?” we usually mean, “how does it compare to men’s hockey?” […]

The Russians Weren’t Coming

February 26, 2010


What happened to the Russian men’s hockey team in their much-hyped showdown against arch-rivals Canada last night? On paper the teams were evenly matched, and clearly the most talented two teams in the tournament, with 7 of the top 8 NHL goal-scorers between them. And yet the Canadians dominated every facet of the game, including […]

“Sports are holy”

February 24, 2010


Surely what most of us Olympics skeptics react to is not the Games themselves, but the way they are packaged and presented. And I found at least part of the explanation for this on the flight home in Esquire magazine's Olympic preview by Stephen Marche, which asks in its title, Are the Olympics Ruining Everything?

Kitsch as the natural aesthetic of nationalism

February 17, 2010


Again, I can’t claim to have watched carefully all of the Olympic Opening Ceremonies in recent years. Even the highlights are usually painful. But this quote from Michael Ignatieff in 1993, with Yugoslav civil wars and a recent visit to an exhibition of Nazi “art” fresh in his mind, clarifies a few things: “There is […]

We are more. And less.

February 16, 2010


As a Canadian expatriate — some might say, ex-patriot — I have to say, those opening ceremonies in Vancouver were brutal to watch. If I’d watched them in a room full of friends here in North Carolina, I would have been apologizing on my native country’s behalf. And, of course, my friends here would have […]