Each week, commenter Jon Marthaler bakes up a delicious batch of links for you. Other times, you can find him here. Jon?
It's Olympics time again, and let me remind you of perhaps the most important fact you'll need to know about this year's Games: London is six hours ahead of Minnesota time, so you'll need to be setting that alarm pretty early in the morning to catch events live. You will be catching these events live, of course, won't you? As a longtime fan of world sports, I know just what you're going through right now; how many times have I risen at 6:00am to catch the noon Saturday English soccer match, or stayed up until 2 am to catch the first two hours of a cricket match being played in Sri Lanka? And surely you'll be doing the same, because...
...Well, of course you won't, unless you happen to be a die-hard fan of one of the Olympic sports. Will Leitch makes precisely this point in his post on the nascent Sports On Earth web site: "I think that’s how hardcore sports fans see the Olympics. They’re sports for people who are only kinda into sports." NBC and its "family of networks" will be showing some kind of Olympic activity virtually twenty-four hours a day over the next few weeks, but the semi-surprising thing is that for the most part these wall-to-wall events will have about the same importance to most sports fans as the Greater Hartford Open/Travelers Championship does to golf viewers. It's something to have on in the background, and is potentially even exciting, but ultimately is inconsequential.
There are exceptions, of course. Gymnastics is about to get its quadrennial turn on center stage (along with the legions of men saying, "You know, my wife's not a sports fan, but I changed the channel briefly during gymnastics last night and she tried to bludgeon me to death with an end table.") If the USA proves less than dominant on the basketball court, it'll be major news here in America. Usain Bolt will draw a crowd, as always, and the duel between American swimmers Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte is shaping up to be exciting. Beyond those things, though, we're waiting for NBC to tell us a few exceptional stories, in prime time, on tape delay.
Every so often, a story falls into our laps, like cow wrestler Rulon Gardner re-enacting Rocky IV, or the unbridled emotion of a grieving Matthias Steiner lifting more weight than he'd ever tried before, that escapes the low hum of twenty-four-hours-a-day Olympics coverage. But what's surprising about the Olympics is how low-stakes it is for most traditional sports fans. We would never dream of tape-delaying something so important as a regular-season Vikings game, but the Olympics - eh, let's wait to see what NBC puts on the prime time show.
On with the links:
*The Miami Herald has sent humor columnist emeritus Dave Barry to London, which he's covering in his usual style. He's filed three columns already - Part One | Part Two | Part Three - and I cannot recommend them highly enough.
*I mentioned Matthias Steiner already, but you should also read Spencer Hall's guide to Olympic weightlifting, which stars Steiner.
*In local news - which for most of you is probably much more important than anything happening in London over the next two weeks - Christian Peterson at the VikesCentric blog looks at ten players that will make or break the Vikings. (Here's part one; here's part two.) It's probably bad news for the Vikes that there are nine players that are MORE concerning than Christian Ponder.
*In travel news, Arsenal midfielder Alex Song looks like he really enjoys flying on planes. Also: Kevin Love won the ongoing USA Basketball competition to take pictures of slumbering teammates with this photo, which also conclusively proves that not one person in the world can possibly look cool sleeping on a plane.