There has been a lot of kvetching about NBC's decision to show a lot of premiere sporting events on tape delay, and for good reason. It's idiotic and the corporate mansplanation cock-up was even worse. For those of us of a certain age however, let's put the cut line at 40, there is a lot to love about the coverage, mainly that there is so much of it. In 1984, ABC broadcast 180 hours, the biggest production ever, nearly 2.5-times the hours from the 1976 Montreal Games. This year, NBC is showing off 6,755 hours of programming, which means unlike the Los Angeles Olympic coverage, fans can find smaller sports and other countries. Although to be fair, back in George Orwell's favorite year some things were popping television-wise as the New York Times declared, "Computer Graphics Liven the Screen."
This is a long-winded way of saying rugby players kick ass.
I was in Ireland once during the Six Nations rugby tournament and went to Dublin's Ballsbridge neighborhood to down some pints and watch the matches (is that right?) with the lads at the pub. I remember Ireland beat France and I bought a proper rugby shirt. It has an itchy collar. I rarely wear it. I never saw Invictus.
Such is the extent of my rugby knowledge and fandom that I would never have sought out the sport during the Olympics. Back in '84, it was impossible. And even say in Greece, I would've had to take the initiative. I wouldn't have and that would have been my loss. Thanks to the massive 2016 coverage, two dope plays from the U.S. 26-0 thrashing of Brazil appeared on my laptop.
First up, we have an unbelievable catch from wing Perry Baker, a Daytona Beach, Fla. native who played college football at Fairmont State University. He climbs the ladder on the back of some unsuspecting Brazilian to make a fingertips grab before plummeting to the turf. The best part is the dude backing away from Baker, which might be a smart play, but looks like he's scared to play leapfrog.
[Here is where we would embed the GIF showing you the play if we were permitted to do so. It's pretty cool though—dude catches some serious air—you should Google it!]
Next man up is New England Patriots special teamer Nate Ebner—you may recall him from this ridiculous onside drop kick against the Eagles last November—who absolutely lays out yet another unsuspecting Brazilian. Blindsides the poor fella to the turf. Intriguingly, as brutal a hit as it is, in a microcosm, it sort of augurs the theory that no helmets in the NFL might cut down on brain injuries. But that's for another day, let's just enjoy watching a man go down hard.
[Sorry, we just can't enjoy it here, though this is the spot we'd do it if we could. Definitely Google "Nate Ebner blindside" if viewing Olympic highlights is something you are interested in.]
Rugby is back in the Olympics for the first time since 1924 and, technically, the U.S. men's team is defending gold medal victors. Unfortunately they came up just short against Fiji and are out of medal contention. They were 1-1 heading into today's match, which, again, you could watch because it's not 1984. Bringing it back to Orwell, rugby has a "war minus shooting" vibe. Did I mention rugby players kick ass?