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Posts about Olympics

The Weekend Lowdown with Jon Marthaler: Ranking the Winter Olympic sports

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated: February 8, 2014 - 11:51 AM

Game of the weekend: The Olympics

I could try to list out all of NBC's coverage, which is spread across five networks, but I'll do better just linking you to their official site and letting you work things out. I'll also offer you the following scientific ranking of Winter Olympic sports:

  1. Hockey: The Olympics is the most important international competition. The game is better because the ice is bigger. And sometimes this happens to Canada. It's got everything!
  2. Curling: Mesmerizing, and full of Minnesotans. You know how ESPN shows bowling on Sunday afternoons in the fall because everybody's watching football? I wish they'd show curling instead. I would watch so much curling.
  3. Alpine skiing: NASCAR should have races like this, by which I mean time trials on an icy mountain.
  4. (tie) Bobsled / luge / skeleton: These are basically all the same sport.
  5. Speed skating (short track): Ooh! A pileup!
  6. Figure skating: This tends to be more popular with females than males. I can't quite figure out why. It goes in the same category as women's gymnastics and the royal wedding, for me, but I realize that there are many people for whom the Winter Olympics are nothing but figure skating.
  7. Speed skating (long track): Are there people who watch the 10,000 meters at the Summer Olympics? I bet those people live for long-track speed skating.
  8. Biathlon: Something that involves carrying a gun around should be less boring.
  9. Ski jumping: Something that involves jumping off a mountain should be less boring.
  10. Snowboarding / freestyle skiing: I cannot shake the feeling that all snowboarding and freestyle skiing events should be broadcast only on MTV, be sponsored by Surge and/or OK Soda, and take place in 1997.
  11. Cross-country skiing: The Tour de France of the Winter Olympics, by which I mean way too long and incredibly boring to watch.

What else to watch

Today, 11:30am: Cardiff City at Swansea City (NBC). These teams are A) both in Wales, B) separated by just three points in the standings, and C) both in some danger of being relegated back into the second division. All of which should make for quite the game.

Today, 1pm: #10 Michigan at #17 Iowa. I wonder if Acie Earl is going to play in this game? I'll bet he is.

Today/Sunday, 2pm: Pebble Beach National Pro-Am (CBS). Now that you're into February, you have my permission to start dreaming about playing golf again. Forget that it's snowing and 10 degrees outside. Use your imagination.

Sunday, 1pm: Penn State at Gopher Wrestling (BTN). The Nittany Lions are #1 in the country; the Gophers are #3. There should be battles between two Top-10 wrestlers at six of the ten weights; it's time for J Robinson's men to prove whether they have what it takes to challenge Penn State at the top.

The Weekend Lowdown with Jon Marthaler: Do not -- DO NOT -- watch the Pro Bowl

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated: January 25, 2014 - 8:32 AM

It's cold outside, so let Jon Marthaler tell you what to watch this weekend. Other times, you can find him here. Jon?

Game of the week: USA Rugby Sevens, today and Sunday. The USA leg of the Rugby Sevens World Series is this weekend in Las Vegas, and NBC will cover it on the NBC Sports Network at 1:00 both days, and on the flagship NBC at 3:00 Saturday and 3:30 Sunday.

Rugby - the fifteen-a-side version - tends to be mostly a war of attrition, filled with punts and charges into the line, the closest thing to actual trench warfare that the sporting world has yet to invent. Rugby sevens is played on the same size field, with eight fewer players per side, and an entire match takes 15 minutes (two seven-minute halves with a one-minute intermission). It's mostly just consistent action, and is as entertaining to watch as anything else you'll stumble across this weekend.

If nothing else, look at it this way: sevens rugby will be an Olympic sport in 2016, and the USA is the Olympic titleholder (having won the 1924 gold medal). The American team has struggled mightily so far this year, but a few wins on home soil might be just what it needs to get in gear.

What else to watch

1pm today: Gophers wrestling vs. Iowa (BTN). According to the InterMat Wrestling rankings, the Gophers should be favored at five weights today, and the Hawkeyes should be favored at five. With both teams ranked in the top five nationally, today might give fans a pretty good indication as to which of these teams might have the best chance at a national title.

6pm today: #21 Michigan at #3 Michigan State (ESPN). I have my suspicions that the Breslin Center, never sedate, will be more or less on fire during this game.

8am (or 2am) Sunday: Australian Open men's singles final (ESPN2). If you want to stay up all night, be my guest, but I suspect you may want to give it a miss until Sunday morning. Rafael Nadal is the favorite over the upset-minded Stanislas Wawrinka, and maybe this will go down in straight sets and you'll be able to go back to bed, but if the last few Australian Open finals are any indication, you will see a marathon that redefines the limits of human endurance and athleticism, and you will yelp involuntarily throughout the match, and at the end you will be exhausted even though you have not left your sofa.

What NOT, repeat NOT, to watch: Pro Bowl, 6:30pm Sunday. I won't tell you what station. Here's the thing: the Pro Bowl is awful, but every year it draws huge ratings. We will never, ever get it to go away as long as it keeps drawing viewers. I'm begging you: Do not watch this game. Watch something, anything, else. We have to band together and stop this nightmare.

What to read this weekend

Intrigued by my insistence, up top, that you watch some rugby this weekend? Both the Guardian and ESPN covered the state of American rugby this week, in the lead-up to the Las Vegas tournament. Short summary: Things are looking up.


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