Lochte dominates while Phelps and NBC battle to see who can be more disappointing

Posted: 07/28/2012 in summer olympics
Tags: , , , , , ,

The torch in United States swimming may have well been passed this afternoon and the network that paid billions of dollars to air the 2012 Olympics in London was nowhere to be found.

American Ryan Lochte brutalized the swimming pool and made legendary Michael Phelps look like just another minnow in a pond with a dominating performance to win the gold medal in the 400 individual medley.

Lochte’s terrific showing of 4 minutes, 5.18 seconds wasn’t shown live by NBC despite the event falling on a Saturday afternoon and the showdown between Lochte and Phelps being one of the more anticipated events of the entire Olympics. Instead, NBC was airing swimming preliminaries that were held several hours earlier.

But the beauty of the Internet age is that dinosaur methods by companies behind the times – that’s you, NBC – can always be worked around.

The Lochte-Phelps battle has been one of the few Olympic showdowns talked about for weeks ahead of the Games and not showing one of the epic competitions live on a Saturday afternoon is downright silly.

Links to live telecasts of the event were in abundant supply on social-media sites so I was able to catch the big race as it occurred, not sometime tonight when the skies have turned from light to dark and people in London are sleeping (well, some of them).

Phelps won gold in the 400 IM in each of the past two Olympics and Lochte was the co-favorite this summer, which made NBC’s decision sillier.

Saturday’s 400 IM became the first time Phelps didn’t earn a medal in an Olympics final since he was 15 years old in 2000. Since then, he had gone 16-for-16 with 14 golds and two bronzes before being a nonfactor against Lochte.

Lochte and Phelps were running first and second after the butterfly but Lochte began pulling away with a scintillating backstroke swim. Phelps was in third place midway through the race and he wasn’t done treading water.

As Lochte continued to expand his lead in the breaststroke, Phelps had fallen to fourth place and needed a telescope to spot Lochte as he began his freestyle swim. He didn’t even earn a medal as Thiago Pereira of Brazil finished second and Kosuke Hagino of Japan took third.

Pretty disappointing start to the 2012 Olympics for Phelps, the golden boy of the last two Summer Games.

But it qualifies as even more disappointing for NBC – a network more interested in making money off the Olympics than serving American sports fans.

Not showing a big event live on a Saturday afternoon and pretending it is happening hours later is stuff you would expect in the 1940s. It is even sadder when you factor in we live in an era where results are splashed on Twitter in real time (note to NBC – that means as it happens).

Can you imagine NBC airing an NFL game several hours after it was played? Wait, Shhhh – I don’t want to give them any ideas.

So it’s pretty much a draw on who had the worst Saturday between Phelps and NBC. But I know where I’d put my money in terms of which one might recover before the Olympics end.

It would be on the guy who was just dominated in the pool, not the network that looks like a fool.


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