It’s time to finally wrap up the coverage of the 2012 Olympics on Fang’s Bites. The medals posts have taken too long, but sometimes life gets in the way and I had to divide them into three parts. This will complete the coverage and I can move on to other sports.
Part I focused on the Studio Hosts and Analysts. Part II concentrated on Event Play-by-Play. This installment will look at the work of the event analysts, reporters and for the first time ever, grade the non-rightsholders which had to report around the International Olympic Committee’s restrictions.
Here we go.
Teddy Atlas, Boxing – If Teddy didn’t exist, you would have to create him in a Hollywood movie. I love his accent, I love the way he talks and I love his candor. When he doesn’t like how a boxer fights, he’ll say so. When he thinks a fight stinks, he’ll say so. When he thinks the referees don’t know how to officiate a fight, he’ll say so. And when the judging stinks, he’ll say so. The man is very good when it comes to talking about the Sweet Science and he makes boxing come alive. He continues to bring gold medal analysis to the viewer.
Ato Boldon, Track & Field – Ato has become a premier Olympic analyst. He’s worked very hard since being hired by NBC and done very well on the sprints. He became a little punny this year, but that can be overlooked. Ato was right on top of the Usain Bolt gold medals in the 100, 200 and 4×100 meters. He also gave us very good thoughts on why certain athletes ran out of their lanes and made good use of the pointer. Ato deserves to be on the medal stand.
Doug Collins, Basketball – Once the premier TV analyst in the NBA, the current Philadelphia 76ers coach stepped in at NBC and did not miss a beat. Despite Bob Fitzgerald’s pedestrian play-by-play, Doug shined. He was on top of trends and wasn’t afraid to criticize players. Collins demands so much respect among the players that after the gold medal game, many went to his courtside position and shook his hand. And I’m sure Doug will return to TV once his coaching career is over.
Kate Markgraf, Soccer – Kate worked out of New York calling games off a monitor with JP Dellacamera. She should be the main women’s soccer analyst in Rio in four years. She was very good in spotting trends and I was quite impressed with her work. She may not have the name of a Brandi Chastain, but Kate is a much better analyst.
Craig Masback, Track & Field – It was nice to have Craig back on the Olympics on the distance races. Craig certainly knows his running and has a very good chemistry with Tom Hammond.
John McEnroe, Men’s Tennis Final – Johnny Mac only called one event, but it was a big one, Andy Murray’s gold in the men’s gold medal match against Roger Federer. He was on top of the entire match.
Ann Meyers, Basketball – A former analyst on the NCAA Women’s Final Four for ESPN, Ann was very good on NBC in London.
Shannon Miller, Gymnastics, Olympic Broadcast Services – Shannon was not on any of the NBC broadcasts, but if you watched any of the gymnastics main feeds on NBCOlympics.com or on the Live Extra app, you heard her as the analyst on the World Feed. Her analysis throughout the Games was excellent. She explained the scoring system. She talked about what gymnasts had to do to get good scores. She explained how judges deduct points. When the NBC Gremlins in New York weren’t cutting off her analysis to fire online ads, Shannon’s analysis was clear, concise and to the point. This was a girl who was once so shy and could hardly talk to the media when she was a part of the Magnificent Seven in Atlanta to where she’s now a confident businesswoman and analyst. She was never overdramatic like the NBC crew and was always on top of the action. Here’s hoping NBC will hire her for Rio.
Cynthia Potter, Diving – I’m hot and cold with Cynthia. There were times when she sounded bitter and angry at the divers and others where she explained the action clearly and concisely. It seemed that the former was quite prevalent during the Games, but as she went on, Cynthia went into coach’s mode and educated us on proper dives, scoring and did a tremendous job in the post production Stromotion that gave viewers sequential stop motion replays. It was really educational. After a bronze medal start, Cynthia gets a gold.
Paul Sherwen, Cycling – Usually teamed with Phil Liggett on the Tour de France, Paul worked for NBC without his usual partner on the Olympics, either working with Todd Harris or Steve Schlanger. He knows the sport. He knows the players and he’s very good.
Rennae Stubbs, Tennis – Coming over from Tennis Channel and 7 Network in Australia, Rennae was on top of the action from Wimbledon. She was very good throughout the Olympic tennis tournament, but saved her best work for the women’s final which saw Serena Williams win the gold. Whether it working with Andrew Catalon, Brett Haber or Mary Carillo in the final, Rennae was on top of trends and first guessed instead of second guessed. And I liked her chemistry with Carillo. I hope she’s on the US Open for Tennis Channel later this month.
Kevin Barnett, Indoor Volleyball – Worked well with Paul Sunderland. Made very good points. Kept his analysis short.
Yaz Farooq, Rowing – Four years ago, Yaz’s voice was very soothing. This year, Yaz either took personality pills or she drank 5 Hour Energy before every race. She yelled as the crowd roared its approval of the Great Britain rowers winning medals. She was good, but the yelling got in the way of many of her points.
Rowdy Gaines, Swimming – Rowdy got a gold medal in Beijing and he still does quality work, but his screaming takes away what could have been a top showing. His voice went up as many as 160 octaves during races. There’s no doubt that Rowdy is a great ambassador for the sport and does a great job in fundraising, but it’s time for NBC to replace him for Rio.
Eric Giddens, Canoeing Whitewater/Canoeing Flatwater – Eric was very good in explaining the sport and giving insight.
Lisa Leslie, Basketball – Lisa worked in New York calling games off a monitor with Dave Strader. I thought she did better as a studio analyst during hits with Liam McHugh in London. There were times when she had trouble pronouncing names, but overall, Lisa’s analysis was spot on.
Dawn Lewis, Handball – With Mike Gorman, Dawn formed a very good team. Gave us good explanations on the sport that is quite foreign to many of us.
Kyle Martino, Soccer – The main analyst for men’s soccer did a very good job working with Arlo White. MLS fans are familiar with their work on NBC Sports Network and they did well during the Olympics.
Melanie Smith Taylor, Equestrian – Melanie is the Voice of Equestrian analysis for many fans of the sport. She and Tim Ryan form a very good team every four years.
Dwight Stones, Track & Field – Mostly voiced tape delays and recaps of the field events. NBC butchers many of these events and show just three or four athletes. Not Dwight’s fault, but he doesn’t really get to analyze, he mostly summarizes.
Jamie Bestwick, Mountain Bike/BMX – It seemed that during his short stint on the last weekend of the Games, Jamie wanted to do play-by-play and let his partner, Todd Harris do the analysis. Then again, that is the British style as the play-by-play caller and analyst mix roles. He was ok.
Justin Gimelstob, Tennis – Justin is ok, but there are times when he goes off on a tangent or name drops. We don’t want that. Give us the match.
Tim Hutchings, Marathon – Tim was decent during both the men’s marathon.
Shep Messing, Soccer – Shep barely makes the podium. There were times when Shep made some head-scratching points. He gets on the podium because he wasn’t afraid to criticize or take a stand.
Elfi Schlegel, Gymnastics – Didn’t have much time to talk between Al Trautwig and Tim Daggett. There were times when she and Tim disagreed, but they were never allowed to argue.
Julie Swail, Water Polo – Did decently during water polo.
Kevin Wong, Beach Volleyball – Went overboard in saying the sand at Horse Guards Parade was deep to allow for rallies. I think Kevin said it once or twice a match. I understand you’re sometimes talking to different audiences every night, but it got tiresome. But he made valid points when he wasn’t consumed with the sand.
BOWL OF HAGGIS
Marcelo Balboa, Soccer – I was so happy that Marcelo was not the main analyst this year. He still made insane points and went off the track. Fans will never forgive his horrid performance with Dave O’Brien on the 2006 World Cup and he continues to be a bad analyst.
Brandi Chastain, Soccer – Too often, Brandi would interject “OH!” during goals going over Arlo White’s calls. Then in the USA vs. Canada women’s semifinal she began TO SHOUT IN THE SECOND HALF AND WOULDN’T STOP! WHAT WAS THAT??? WHY?? Up until that game, Brandi was on the podium and Hope Solo’s criticisms of her analysis made Chastain a sympathetic figure. Then the USA-Canada performance wiped that all away. She did better in the final, but it was not enough to put her back on the podium.
Tim Daggett, Gymnastics – A mistake was either “catastrophic” or “disastrous” for gymnast’s medal chances. He overdramatized mistakes. There were times he and Al Trautwig focused so much on crying Russian gymnasts, it made you wonder about them. I’m hoping NBC brings in new blood for gymnastics in 2016 because Al, Tim and Elfi aren’t working.
Drea Avent, Soccer – She did the first few women’s soccer games then did some features for NBC primetime and daytime. Thought she did a good job in London.
Heather Cox, Beach Volleyball – Heather has reported on the sport for NBC either during the Olympics or when the now-defunct AVP Tour was on the network. She knows the players and inserted good information during the matches. Now we’ll see if she gets the plum ABC Saturday Night Football sideline assignment in September.
Alex Flanagan, Diving – Alex was a studio host in New York for the Beijing Games. This year, she got to report from a venue. She did very well in her interviews and reports.
Craig Sager, Basketball – Craig seemed like just another sideline reporter with his bland polo shirts on the sidelines. If Craig is going to Rio, NBC needs to allow him to break out the loud shirts as it will go hand-in-hand with the Brazilian party that will be the 2016 Olympics. The players all like Craig and they all flocked to him after the games.
Michele Tafoya, Rowing/Women’s Soccer – Michele’s a pro’s pro and asks the right questions. Her queries are never clichéd.
Russ Thaler, Boxing – Russ had to wade through the madness that was the ExCel Arena. Did a very good job.
Jon Wertheim, Tennis – Sports Illustrated’s Jon Wertheim was more like the insider during the tennis broadcasts on Bravo. He gave good info and brought an extra element to the coverage.
Lewis Johnson, Track & Field – The US athletes all knew Lewis, but he was limited to getting out of breath answers from many of them.
Andrea Kremer, Swimming – I like Andrea, but her questions at the Aquatic Center were very strange. “What makes you so good?” What? A bitter fall off the gold that she achieved in Beijing.
BOWL OF HAGGIS
Andrea Joyce, Gymnastics – Once again, I like Andrea, but this wasn’t her best Olympics. Getting a tearful Jordyn Wieber after she didn’t make the All-Around Final wasn’t necessary. I heard that NBC were trying to guilt her to talk. I don’t think Andrea did that, but even so, we knew her reaction. We could see the tears.
TWO BOWLS OF HAGGIS
Pierre McGuire, Water Polo – The man is abrasive. I really don’t know what NBC sees in him. He asked abrasive questions of the water polo coaches and players. And for some reason, he conducted interviews with Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant of the USA men’s basketball team. I was hoping for someone on either the women’s or men’s side to pull him underwater, but it didn’t happen. Oh well.
Fox Sports – Using its website, Fox did a very good job covering the Games utilizing Laura Okmin, Maurice Greene, Christian Laettner and Amy Van Dyken. They would record video and have it on the website just minutes after events finished. Very good coverage.
Yahoo – Utilizing reporters like Pat Forde, Maggie Hendricks and Greg Wyshynski, Yahoo managed to claim a victory over NBCOlympics.com in unique hits for its coverage. The service used Twitter and Facebook to provide in-progress coverage. Quite impressed.
And that will conclude our Olympics coverage for 2012.