Tag Archives: Olympics

How Can We Fix the Track & Field Olympic Trials?

First of all… the Olympics aren’t broken. I look forward to the summer Olympics every four years with an excitement you couldn’t possibly believe. The past few days, I’ve just been bummed out because I knew the Games were winding down. What a fantastic few weeks, though?

At the end of the day, though, there is a lot about the Olympics that were somewhat flawed. Here are a handful of solutions I think could make the Olympic process better.

Olympic Trials

The qualifying process needs to be fixed. Currently, there are two ways an athlete can make the Trials. First, they can hit the “A” standard. If they hit the “A” standard in a particular event, they are automatically included in the Trials. There also is a “B” standard that athletes can shoot for that is slightly slower. If they hit the “B” standard, they are semi-qualified. Usually, the field of runners will be made up of all of the runners with the “A” standard and filled to capacity with “B” standard runners. So, for example, if one event has room for 2 heats of 12 (24 total), and there are 18 runners with the “A” standard, you’ve now got 6 spots for “B” standard runners. The problem is, in the last two Olympic trials, they haven’t grabbed the six fastest “B” runners. They are allowed to pick & choose who they want to allow. While it is normally pretty cut and dry, they committee has bypassed a few faster runners and allowed Olympic veterans such as Adam Goucher and Alan Webb into the field.

First of all, I have no problem when they allowed Goucher or Webb into either field. Both have a far superior resume to almost anyone in the field. Had it not been for injuries, both likely would’ve hit the standard (both had an “A” or “B” standard in a different event).

Anyway, why not just change the process.

Why are we limiting the field to 24 competitors in a certain event? I see how other sports handle qualifying and I see an opportunity to better our sport.

My idea on how to handle qualifying comes from a combination of amateur golf and English soccer.

Preliminary qualifying would be similar to the qualifying of soccer tournaments (specifically the FA cup) in England. In England, any official club football team can be in the knockout tournament. Last year, there were over 750 teams that participated. There are 14 rounds, but the biggest clubs are exempted through the first 8 rounds. I don’t see any reason this model wouldn’t work for track and field.

To view this, let’s look at it from the top down. First of all, I want to see a system where we still reward those who have run well in the past 18 months. Instead of “A” standards, we’d have three tiers of automatic qualifying. If you run one of the top 12 times in a given event among those who “declare” for the event, you are given a pass to what would now be considered the opening round of the Olympic Trials. If you have a qualifying time of #13-36, you are qualified for the preliminary finals. Times #37-84 would get you into the preliminary semifinals.

Here’s some of the important timing:

First of all, move the Trials back a week. The next Olympics starts a week later, so we’ll move the trials back a week.

Three Weeks from Trials – regional qualifying. 8 regions (similar to NXN). Top 6 from each region advance to Olympic Trial Prelim Semifinals. This allows for most high school states along with colleges to finish their track & field championships.

One week from Trials – Prelim Semifinals in host city of trials.

Regional qualifying – Unlimited runners
Prelim Semis- 96 – 48 – #37-84 – 8 heats of 12 – top 2 + 8 fastest times
Prelim Finals – 48 – 24 – #13-36 – 4 heats of 14 – top 2 + 4 fastest times
24 – 12 “A” standard
12 – Finals

You could muck with the numbers a little bit (sprints only have 8 runners per heat, 10k would have a 24 person final, etc), but that’s basically how the system would work.

Why is this system better?

Big reasons:

1) No favoritism. It simply rewards the top 12 runners, the next 24, and the next 48. If you don’t have one of those times (and nobody with a legitimate shot at qualifying for the Olympics wouldn’t), you still have a path (albeit a muddy one) to qualify.

2) More achievable goals. Now, if you are a really good high school runner, an above-average college runner, or a professional, it gives you something to shoot for. For a lot of marathon runners, it’s not about making the Olympic team. It’s a huge goal to make the marathon trials. 111 men and 186 women toed the start line for the marathon trials. Not many realistically had a shot to win it, but they all at least had a bar to shoot for – making the trials.

3) Helps young runners. Under my system, you are going to get the random junior in high school or freshman in college who qualifies for the preliminary semifinals. They run well in their race and snag the the last qualifying time into the preliminary final. It would give some of these up and comers a chance to run a PR and see what championship racing is all about. At the very least, it gives them something bigger to dream for at a younger age. After winning their state track meet, they can say “I want to qualify for the Olympic Trials.” Then, the next step is “I want to make the Olympics.”

4) Promotes the sport of track and field. Now, in hundreds of local papers, you are getting weekly stories about the local runner who qualified for the Olympic trials. You’ve got a small swell of local interest leading up to the games. If the event is covered by one of the D-List cable channels (“NBC Sports”, for example) or internet sites (Flotrack?), you’ve got hundreds of people back home who are paying attention to how their local boy or girl does in their race. Most importantly, you’ve got eyeballs on the screen. Every single person you can get interested is another potential sale to advertisers.

5) Doesn’t likely negatively affect the chances of our Olympians. The last thing I’d want to do is wear out a medal contender forcing them to go through extra rounds of qualifying. This system wouldn’t do that, though. Out of all track and field running events, only one athlete who wound up making the Olympics (Kim Conley of the women’s 5k) wasn’t in the top 12 fastest times entering the games. In order to send an athlete to the games, they have to have hit the “Olympic A” standard (different from the Trials A), anyway.

I’m not sure it’s a perfect system. The one we currently have isn’t either, though. I just love the thought that maybe something like this would help plant the seed in young runners or struggling post-collegiates to stick it out a little bit. I’m interested in your feedback – what do you think?

London Olympic Preview for Men’s Marathon

The men’s marathon is such a tricky event to predict. If the race goes out fast (4:45-ish/mile), only a handful of guys can seemingly compete. But if the race goes out at a more pedestrian pace (doesn’t it sound insane to call 5:00/mile a “pedestrian pace”), more men will be able to compete.

This race should be incredible to watch. The marathon has always been a trademark event of the Olympics, but the times have just dropped incredibly over the last few years. In 1999, American Khalid Khannouchi set a then World Record in running the Chicago marathon in 2:05:42. In a little under 13 years, over two minutes has been subtracted from that record and the time has been “officially” surpassed by 34 different runners (this doesn’t include runners like Ryan Hall who ran a wind-aided 2:04 on the point to point Boston course… which apparently doesn’t count). Times have gotten so fast that the 7th and 8th place finishers at the 2012 Dubai marathon tied Khannouchi’s former record.

So good is the field of Kenyans and Ethiopians is you will not be seeing the recognized world record holder in the marathon. Geoffrey Mutai ran 2:03:02 in the 2011 Boston Marathon, but the record wasn’t given to him since there was a strong back wind, it was a downhill course, and the course is considered “point-to-point” thus making Patrick Makau Musyoki, who ran 2:03:38 in the 2011 Berlin marathon, the recognized world record holder. Of the 20 fastest “official” marathon runners since the last Olympics, 16 of them (Kenyans and Ethiopians) are not in the field.

How will the American’s fare?

Is there a chance that any American can sneak a medal? Sure. Meb Keflezighi quietly snuck a silver medal at the 2004 Olympics. He didn’t make the Olympic team in 2008, but the broken hip he suffered during the race will almost always prevent that. At 37, it would seem unlikely that he can improve, but he just ran a personal best time in the marathon while winning the Olympic Trials. In 2009, he was the first American to win the NYC Marathon since 1982 and he’s placed well in other major marathons.
Ryan Hall is the biggest name in American marathon running since Alberto Salazar. He’s been consistently the best half-marathon and marathon distance runner in America since 2007. He’s also started to appear in various print and television ads for Asics and Vizio televisions. He’s consistently been battling with the East Africans finishing in the top 10 in all 10 of the major marathons he’s run. Unfortunately, outside of US championship events, he’s yet to win a major marathon. The Olympic games, of course, would be a great time to break that streak.
Like Meb, Abdi Abdirahman is getting up there in age for a distance runner having just turned 35. Like Meb, as well, he’s shown no signs of slowing down. After making the Olympics in 2000, 2004, and 2008, Abdi was a bit of an afterthought entering the 2012 Olympic Trials. Many (most?) thought the team was going to be Meb, Hall, and Dathan Ritzenhein. Having run a pair of 2:14 marathons in 2008-2009 and no real times of significance in 2010 or 2011, many thought the Black Cactus’s best days were behind him (BTW – how awesome of a nickname is “The Black Cactus”?!?) Abdi proved everyone wrong edging Ritz for third place and becoming a member of his 4th Olympic team.

Olympic Track and Field Review – Day 1

Morning session

Women’s 400 Meter heats

Nothing much to report here. In the first heat, Francena McCorory was incredibly slow off the blocks but still managed to nudge 2008 Beijing gold medalist (and hometown favorite) Christine Ohuruogu. It was a two person race, though, as third place was a full second behind Ohuruogu. In the third heat, Deedee Trotter won easily in a time of 50.87 and did Sanya Richards-Ross in her fourth heat (51.78). Defending world champion Amantle Montsho of Botswana had the fastest time of the morning in 50.40. The semifinal will be Saturday at 2:05 PM (CST).

Men’s 400 Meter Hurdles

All three American men advanced with Michael Tinsley and Angelo Taylor winning their heats and Kerron Clement coming in second to Olympic gold medal favorite Javier Culson of Puerto Rico to advance to the semifinal on Saturday at 1:00 PM (CST). Culson ran the fastest time of the morning in 48.33.

Men’s 3000 Meter Steeplechaser

Heat 1 featured new American record holder Evan Jager. The race went out with an honest pace and Jager look quite comfortable. Jager took the lead with 2 laps remaining and led until the finish when he wisely let Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad coast by him for the victory finishing in 8:16. He was easily in the top 4 which automatically qualify from each heat. The second heat featured American Kyle Alcorn. The pace was quite slow in the second heat as no one seemed to want to take the lead. With a few laps remaining, Alcorn found himself in the worst place any runner can be – no man’s land. The lead pack of about 6 emerged and he found himself a few meters back struggling to try to latch on to the back of the pack. He didn’t have enough at the end of the race and wound up 9th place in what has to be a disappointing 8:37. Kenyan Brimin Kiprop Kipruto looked effortless in victory (8:28) hurdling the last water pit without even making contact with the barrier. The third and final heat featured 2012 NCAA champ Donald Cabral. Cabral jumped out to the lead at the gun and led the first 2750 meters of the race, but unfortunately for Cabral, he hadn’t outrun the field as a pack of seven runners where just meters behind. With 150 to go at the last water barrier, it looked as though Cabral was going to wind up outside of the top 4. He had a real gutsy kick left in him, though, and wound up in the last automatic qualify spot. Kenyan Ezekiel Kemboi eased in the last 20 meters finishing in lane 8 allowing Ethiopia’s Roba Gari to have the victory. It was, to say the least, interesting given many are questioning where Kemboi’s head is at (he was recently arrested for allegedly stabbing a woman). Evan Jager has the 4th fastest time of 2012 among the finalists while Cabral’s currently 11th among the field of 15. The favorites will be Kenyan’s Brimin Kiprop Kipruto and Ezekiel Kemboi – the only runner’s in the field who have ever run under 8:00. The final with be on Sunday at 3:25 PM (CST).

Afternoon Session

Women’s 100 meter heats

Men’s 1500 meter heats
The men’s 1500 featured 3 heats of 15 runners. Top 6 from each heat + next 6 fastest times advance to the semis. Heat 1 featured Leo Manzano of the USA along with the fastest man of the year this year Asbel Kiprop of Kenya. Florian Carvalho of France and Egor Nikolaev of Russia took the race out fast – 58.6 and 1:57.3 at the 400 and 800 split. The second lap in particular was 4-5 seconds faster than the next two semis. Manzano hung out mostly near the middle to back of the pack. With one lap remaining, though, he put himself into contention and wound up grabbing the last automatic qualifying spot (6th) just getting out-leaned at the tape by a runner from Qatar. Taoufik Makhloufi of Algeria won in a speedy opening heat time of 3:35.15.

The second heat featured former Oregon Duck and two time Olympian Andrew Wheating. The pacing was very off in this heat going out the hardest of any of the three heats (57) but then slowing way down in the second lap (63). Through the first two laps, Wheating was in a real good spot right off the leaders in the front. Around the third lap, though, he seemed to get lost in the pack. It reminded me a ton of Alan Webb’s 1500 in the 2004 opening round when he failed to advance. He was in about 10th place with about 150 meters to go. He got to the 7th runner, but the gap was just to big to get to number 6 and he sat just one spot out of the automatic qualifers. If any of the non-automatic qualifiers (7th place and above) in the third heat were to run faster that 3:40.92 (a time which all 44 competitors had bettered at one time or another in 2012), his Olympics would be over. Advancing along were Canadian Nathan Brannen (former Michigan Wolverine) and second fastest 1500 in the world this year Silas Kiplagat. Surprisingly not advancing was Dawit Wolde of Ethiopia who had the 5th fastest time among the 15 runners in his heat.

The third heat went out so slow. Nixon Chepseba of Kenya went right to the front of the race and sat. Knowing that the time qualifier was under 3:40, I’m surprised no one in the field took a chance to push the pace a little bit. The 2:03 split at the 800 was a full 6 seconds slower than the first heat almost ensuring no time qualifiers would advance from this field. With 400 meters remaining, defending silver medalist Nick Willis of New Zealand overtook Chepseba for the lead. With just under 300 remaining, Chepseba – one of the clear medal favorites – tripped and nearly fell over. American Matt Centrowitz darted out wide to avoid Chepseba and went from 6th place to 4th in the process. A strong finish allowed Centro to shut it down a little in the last 20 meters easily qualifying and advancing to the semis. The shocker was to see one of the early medal favorites – Nixon Chepseba – out in the first round after he couldn’t recover from his fall. Willis, who is looking as fit as ever, waltzed to victory in 3:40.92 – the exact same time Wheating ran as the last time qualifying. Having not won a medal in the 1500 since 1968 (Jim Ryun), America is the only country with three runners advancing to the semifinal. The three Americans will next run in the semifinals at 2:15 PM (CST) on Sunday.

Women’s 10k Final

Since this is such a live race, I’m just going to do it liveblog-style:

Prerace – This definitely has the making of a two person war between Vivian Jepkemoi Cheruiyot and Tirunesh Dibaba with the two other Kenyans and Ethiopians seemingly battling for the bronze. I don’t think any of the three Americans have a shot to medal, but I’m hoping they show well. Top 5-10 for any American runner would certainly be a nice showing. I’m picking 1) Dibaba, 2) Cheruiyot, & 3) Oljira. I’m hoping former Texas Tech star Sally Kipyego surprises me and sneaks a medal, though.

24 laps remaining – The three runners from Japan take the lead 200 meters into the race and take it through the first 400 in 73 seconds.

23 laps remaining – Another runner has joined the three Japanese runners who run 74 for the second lap. The rest of the pack is 3 seconds back.

22 laps remaining – Pack is starting to stretch out. Good news for fans of fast times. US’s Amy Hastings is right behind Dibaba. Stick right on her should for the next 22 laps and good things will happen. Easier said than done, of course.

21 laps remaining – And the field has caught up with (but not passed) the three Japanese who are going through the mile in a shade under 5 minutes.

20 laps remaining – Pace is staying steady. Hastings, Uhl, and Bawcom between 2.5 – 3.5 seconds back of the leader.

19 laps remaining – All of the expected contenders are just stalking in the second pack behind the Japanese trio and Britton from Ireland.

18 laps remaining – A little surprised the Japanese are still out front. If you aren’t going to try to run away from the pack and you aren’t sharing the lead, it seems like you’re just waiting to get picked off in the last mile.

17 laps remaining – Hastings in 11th 1.7 seconds back. Bawcom 15th. Uhl 19th. Hastings looks strong but Bawcom and Uhl look to be in danger of losing touch.

16 laps remaining – I seriously don’t know what the Japanese are doing. If you are going to go out to the front as a team, why not share the lead? Niiya has been doing all the work. While I’m typing this, Niiya throws in a surge.

15 laps to go – Niiya still leads followed by the two Kenyans, two Ethiopians. Amy Hastings looking fantastic!

14 laps to go – Two Kenyans go by Niiya. Dibaba and Oljira right behind. We’ve got a pack of 11 runners still in touch with the lead with four runners struggling to barely hold on.

13 laps to go – Kipyego makes a strong move passing her two Kenyan teammates. Kidane of Ethiopia goes with her. Hastings has fallen back to 12th place but still is only 1.3 seconds off the lead. She’s at the very end of the lead pack, though. 71.32 is the fastest lap of race so far.

12 laps to go – Kipyego’s move really has stretched this field out. I think we’ll see a lot of separation over the next few laps and a contending pack will emerge.

11 laps to go – Kidane makes a move. The three Ethiopians and three Kenyans occupy the top six spots.

10 laps to go – And just like that Hastings is getting dropped. She seems to be stuck in no man’s land. A lead pack of 6 seems like it is going to emerge.

9 laps to go – Hasting fighting hard to try to regain the tail end of the lead pack. They’ve got about 10 meters on her, though.

8 laps to go – 76 seconds for that last lap. They are surging and slowing constantly. After that slow lap, Kidane makes a real strong push. The runner from Great Britain is only 2.6 seconds back. Could be interesting to see if she can stick around long enough to get the crowd behind her and maybe sneak a bronze. Hastings has fallen nearly 6 seconds off the back of the pack and is now right ahead of Bawcom and Uhl.

7 laps to go – Dibaba in to second after a 68 second lap by Kidane. That’s 8 seconds faster than the previous lap. The biggest news is Joyce Chepkirui of Kenya has dropped out of the race. We are down to six runners in contention for the medals.

6 laps to go – Pace slowing a little once again. Kidane, Cheruiyot, Kipyego, and Dibaba are your top 4. It appears that’s where your medalists are going to come from.

5 laps to go – 72 second lap. Bawcom, Uhl, and Hastings are all within a second of each other 12th – 14th.

4 laps to go – We’re lapping all kinds of runners now. Kidane’s form is starting to look a little sloppy. Kipyego is making a move and goes to the front. Kidane seems to be working hard. Dibaba is scary looking relaxed in 4th place. And just like that she goes to 2nd.

3 laps to go – Still 4 runners left in the pack. Kidane appears to be laboring the most.

2 laps to go – 72 second last lap. It’s Kipyego, Dibaba, Cheruiyot, and Kidane. Kidane looks like she’s getting dropped. Dibaba makes a move with 550 meters to go to the lead.

1 lap to go – Dibaba’s opened a huge gap of about 10 meters with a 68 seconds second to last lap. I don’t see how she gets caught. She won’t. It’s closer to 25 meters with 200 to go.

Final – Your gold medalist is Tirunesh Dibaba in 30:20.76 with a 62 (!!!) second last lap, Kipyego silver, Cheruiyot bronze. Hastings (31:10), Bawcom (31:12) and Uhl (31:12) all run personal best times to finish 11th, 12th, and 13th. Good showing for the Americans but the night belonged to Dibaba.

London Olympic Preview for Saturday’s Running Events

Men’s 10,000m final
Kenenisa Bekele is just 30 years old, but he’s got a lot of miles on his well-conditioned legs. From 2003-2009, there was no better runner in the world. Over that time period, he’s won 23 golds, 2 silvers, and a bronze in major championship events. He suffered a knee injury in 2010, but bounced back with the world leading time in 2011. In the 2004 & 2008 Olympics, he’s won 3 golds and a silver in the 5k and 10k. This year, he didn’t qualify for the Ethiopian team in the 5k, so the 10k may be his last chance to add an Olympic medal on the track (the marathon, of course, remains a possibility).

Outside of Bekele, there is an incredible field. Bekele’s brother Tariku isn’t quite as talented, but has beat his brother in a few races this year. This sentence may look like it was copy and pasted from another distance previews, but expect the Kenyans and Ethiopians to be in contention.

Great Britian’s Mo Farah will be a huge hometown favorite. In 2011, he won the European 10k (along with the 3k and 5k) before going on to finish second in the World’s for 10k (he won the 5k). However, it’s hard to predict whether running in London is a huge advantage for Farah or the pressure of being one of England’s biggest Olympic hopefuls will be a detractor.

How will the American’s fare?
At the very least, someone who lives and trains in America is going to come home with a medal. 7 of the 31 man field live/train here – the 3 Americans, Mo Farah, and collegiate runners who will be runner for their home country (Diego Estrada, Mo Ahmed, and Cam Levins).

As for the American trio, Galen Rupp has to be considered the favorite to medal. He’s only the 2nd non-African can run under 27 for 10k (injured American Chris Solinsky was the first). As a 22 year old, he qualified for the 2008 Beijing Olympics and finished 13th in the 10k. His American Record of 26:48 he ran last year is faster than any runner in the world has run this year and was the 4th fastest time last year.

Dathan Ritzenhein has had an a crazy career. For the last couple years, he’s been just on the cusp of world greatness, but just seems to have a lot of bad luck (an injuries). He qualified for the 2004 Olympics in the 10k but was forced to drop out mid-race because of a stress fracture in his foot. He finished 9th in the 2008 Olympics (ahead of Ryan Hall). Had he been able to stay healthy, I have little doubt that he’d be mentioned among the greatest runners in American history (should he find a way to stay healthy for a few years, he still may). He’s on second away from becoming the second runner in American history to run under 1 hr in the half marathon (clocking in at exactly 1:00:00). In the 2012 Olympic trials marathon, he finished a disappointing 4th place and was forced to come into the Olympic track and field trials without an “A standard” meaning he’d have to get it in the race. He managed to get the “A” and snag a spot on the team.

In some ways, Matt Tegenkamp has been a bit of a forgotten guy. Like Ritz, he’s always been on the cusp of world greatness and certainly has had world class caliber performances (qualifying for 2008 Olympics, finishing 4th at 2007 5k at Worlds, setting an American record of 8:07 in the 2-mile, running sub-13 for 5k), but he hasn’t become the star that maybe Kara Goucher, Ryan Hall, or Galen Rupp has. If he’s in a position to compete in the Olympic 10k with a mile to go, watch out. His 3:56 mile may not be the fastest in the field, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he closes hard and is right in the medal hunt like he was in 2007 (he lost out on a bronze medal by 0.04 seconds).

Men’s 400 semis
Coming into the trials, LaShawn Merritt (the 2008 gold medalist) represented the United States best chance at a gold despite coming off a two-year doping ban for apparently taking a penis enlargement drug (btw – how funny is it that every single athlete that gets caught with a drug in their system seems to have a crazier and crazier excuse). Merritt is one of only two men in history to have broken 20 seconds for the 200 and 44 seconds for the 400 (the other is 1996 Olympic star Michael Johnson). In a race two weeks ago, though, Merritt pulled up lame with some tightness in his hamstring. Hopefully he recovers in time to defend his gold medal.

At only 22-years old, the University of Florida’s Tony McQuay is the third fastest qualifier in the field (behind only Merritt and Dominican Republic’s Luguelín Santos. He looks to win an Olympic goal medal while still in a college, a feat last accomplished by Jeremy Wariner (Baylor) in 2004.

The third American qualifier Bryshon Nellum might have the best story of any American Olympian. After a very successful high school career, Nellus headed to college at USC. In 2009, he was shot in the leg by two gang members and told he wouldn’t ever be a world-class runner again. At the 2012 Olympic Trials, he ran a personal best of 44.80 to sneak on the team in third place.

One of the favorites has to be Kirani James of Grenada. At 18 years old, he shocked the world last year winning the 400 meter race at the World Championships. Watching the Diamond League in Monaco a few weeks ago, the announcers described his running by saying “he runs like a duck…”, a critique I would second as being correct.

The Official Spoiler Rules

Many people are outraged that NBC isn’t showing live Olympic events. While it’d be great on the weekends, I put in my 8 hours during the day and wouldn’t be able to watch them anyways. However, I’m torn as what is the best way to do things? Throw the money aspect aside (which is easier for me to say, than, say the programming director for NBC). Should they be showing events live on television? Or should they be doing what they are doing and showing them on tape delay at 7 PM.

As someone who’s developed into a giant English soccer fan over the past two years, I have adjusted my schedule to follow the Arsenal. On most weekends from middle of August until the middle of May, you’ll find me waking up sometimes as early as 6:30 AM to watch a big Saturday match (t-minus 18 days until the start of the season in case you were wondering). Unfortunately, though, they play some huge games (mostly Champions League) on Tuesday’s or Wednesday’s at 1:30 PM. I find myself either listening to a radio stream on my iPhone or taping the game, avoiding any social networking sites, and watching it later on.

Point is, when the Olympics is being played in a time zone anywhere from 5-8 hrs ahead of where you are (assuming you are somewhere in the continental 48), it’s difficult to have 100% live coverage. I was bummed the 2016 Olympics wound up in Rio rather than Chicago, but the good news is it will at least be (for the most part) live.

My main problem with how this Olympics has been covered has been the unnecessary spoilers. I recall past Olympics held overseas. When I was watching the local news, the anchor would say something to the effect of “…we’ve got the results to the women’s figure gymnastics tonight. If you don’t want to know the results, look away from the screen for a few seconds.” I thought it was the best way to cover it. They did their job in covering the news, but they politely went out of their way not to spoil it for those who didn’t want it to be spoiled. Yesterday after work, my daughter was taking a nap, so I decided to watch some obscure Olympic events on the DirecTV channels I didn’t even realize I got. After watching a USA women win the bronze medal in Judo (a sport, I’ve determined, with rules that make very little to no sense), they starting to cover rowing. Looking for something that was maybe a little more exciting, I switched over to PTI. The good thing about watching PTI is they’ve got the categories listed on the right hand side. So if I see anything Olympic related, I can either mute the tv or just switch the channel for 2-3 minutes and be safe. That is, until the Bottom freaking Line says “Ryan Lochte finishes 4th in 200m freestyle.” Really ESPN? Thanks. Trying to avoid any other spoilers, I just clicked the “Channel Up” button on my remote to get off that channel. On ESPNEWS, they’ve got a picture of John Orozco from the US Olympic team falling on a vault. I’d gone out of my way to avoid social media all day. I hadn’t visited any websites. I’ve consciously tried to avoid spoilers. And now, I’ve had possibly two of the biggest three events of the evening spoiled for me. The only lesson I’ve learned is that I can’t watch any ESPN for the next 12 days.

Finally, we make it to the 7 o’clock hour where the prime time coverage is shown. I know Lochte isn’t going to win, so that even was a bit of a bummer. I’m assuming the US men’s team isn’t going to win just because ESPNEWS flashed a picture of a guy falling rather than the team celebrating together. My event I was looking forward to was watching was Missy Franklin who had a semifinal and final all within 10 minutes. And, unbelievably, NBC managed to spoil that for me before hand by showing a preview of the Today show which was going to feature Missy Franklin and her gold medal. Her gold medal, that, until now, I didn’t know she was going to win.

No matter what you do, it’s almost impossible for these Olympic games not to be spoiled for you. These are being called the “social media Olympics” yet I find myself avoiding all forms of social media as much as possible. I love Twitter as much as the next guy, but why would I want to get on Twitter knowing that a) I may have Olympic events spoiled for me and b) anything I have to say is old news to people out there who’ve known the results for 10 hours.

My problem isn’t people commenting about things on websites and/or Twitter. Why are mainstream shows giving results away without the common courtesy of a spoiler warning? Imagine if this happened in other aspects of life. Could you have imagined picking up a newspaper in 1995 and seeing a movie review with the headline “Kevin Spacey is Keysor Soze.”

Without further ado, here are the soon to be adopted as official spoiler rules:

  1. We’ve got to create a “24-hour DVR rule” where we can’t spoil obvious things tv shows. Discussion of television shows is allowed during this 24 hours, but only the vaguest of comments that is guaranteed not to spoil anything. Example, an appropriate tweet/status update would be – “Unreal episode of Sopranos tonight… can’t wait to see how the family responds next week” is appropriate. “I can’t believe Tony killed Christopher” would not be.
  2. For network or major cable shows, it is fair game to discuss spoilers after the 24 hour DVR waiting period. However, after about 1 month, you must table any spoiler discussion as people who are getting into the show later on dvd/Netflix/etc
  3. You must wait for 1 year after the final season of a show is released on dvd/Netflix before spoiling a show on a channel that not everyone gets (i.e. AMC, Showtime, HBO).
  4. Sporting events fall under the clause where you can’t talk about a taped delay event before it is aired in a format where the masses can see it. NBC may be streaming the Olympics online, but people with jobs can’t watch it. It doesn’t count until it’s on tv.
  5. Movies are a tricky subject. If the movie is one of the top 10 box offices movies of the year, you may talk about it after one week. If the movie is an obscure release, you have to wait until approximately 1-2 months after it is released on Netflix.
  6. For the most part, books are exempt from these rules. One exception would be book series that are so big they are printed in approximately 100 different languages (Hungry Games, Harry Potter, Twilight, etc.) However, as soon as a book is announced as a movie, the rules for movie spoilers apply. Just because you’ve read the book doesn’t mean you can spoil for those that haven’t. It wouldn’t have been fair to stand in line for the sixth Harry Potter and ask aloud “I wonder how they’ll handle the scene where Dumbledore dies at the end.”
  7. Any link that contains the words “SPOILER ALERT” in clear and capital letters sneaks by all of these rules. If you are dumb enough to click on a link that says “SPOILER ALERT,” you deserve to have things spoiled.

Feel free to add ideas you have to these comments. Good ideas may be considered for the 2.0 version of these spoiler rules.

Predicting the stories of the 2012 Olympics?

In June of 2004, you more than likely had no idea who Michael Phelps was. Kerri Strug was a nobody in 1995. A day before the men’s 100 meter final in 2008, Usain Bolt was a relative nobody.

A month from now, there likely will be a gymnast, swimmer, or other gold medalist that will be getting ready for the upcoming season of Dancing with the Stars (Shawn Johnson, Apollo Anton Ohno), showing up on the front page of TMZ (Michael Phelps), or doing something that will remain in the American athlete lexicon (Kerri Strug) forever.

With that, I’m going to take a stab at 10 things I think will happen in the 2012 London Olympics.

10) Oscar Pistorius will make history… he also won’t get out of the opening heat
Pistorius, who you’ve no doubt seen, was born without legs. I really think this is a really cool story and the people saying he has an advantage are insane. I just don’t see a situation where he advances very far.

9) Not a single record will be broken in swimming
With the changes in swimming suits, records are few and far between. Unfortunately, in a few years, I predict the swimming record book will look like the baseball steroid era record book skewing the entire history of the sport.

8) Galen Rupp will win a silver
…behind hometown favorite and training partner Mo Farah. If this happens, it would be huge news for US distance running.

7) You will have nearly every cool thing that happens in the Olympics spoiled for you
Being married to your smartphone plus a six hour time difference will mean you’ll find out any big news during your afternoon trip to the water cooler. And if you avoid it, a co-worker or family member will ruin it for you anyway. I can’t wait for the 2016 Olympics (Brazil) which occurs relatively close to the US time zone.

6) China vs. US for total medals will be closer than you think
They dominate some goofy events and they’re getting better at some of the more mainstream ones.

5) Missy Franklin will be the new Michael Phelps
She’s just 17 and she’s a stud. Michael Phelps is on his way out. NBC is praying that she wins at least a few of the scheduled 7 events she’s entered in.

4) David Rudisha will break the world 800 record all by himself
My prediction is that track geeks like myself will think the 800 men’s final will go down as one of the most dominant performances in Olympic history. He’s going to win by 10-15 meters.

3) Ashton Eaton will be the biggest US track & field star of the Olympics
He’ll also break the world record on his way to gold. The only reason he won’t be the biggest star of the Olympics is his 10 events are spread over two days instead of the entire length of the games like in swimming.

2) Yohan Blake will win the men’s 100 meter dash
And Usain Bolt will get shut out. Mark my word… this is going to happen.

1) The story of the Olympics will be… drugs
Unfortunately. There are a lot of people I suspect, but I’m guessing some big names are going to go down. And I think we’re going to see a situation where entire countries are implicated (similar to East Germans in the 80s).