Olympic Soccer Predictions Update

Before the Olympic soccer tournaments began I made predictions of who I thought would medal.

Men’s Olympics (picks made on July 24, 2012):

Gold: Spain

Silver: Uruguay

Bronze: Brazil

Women’s Olympics (picks made on July 24, 2012):

Gold: USA

Silver: Japan

Bronze: Brazil

Each women and men’s team has each played two matches and have one more game in the group stage to go. Right now my picks for the women’s tournament are on track, but my pick for the men’s competition is all wrong.

My gold medal pick Spain is out of medal contention after a pair of 1-0 losses to Japan and Honduras. Even though it’s an U-23 tournament this is a huge surprise. Spain won Euro U-21 in 2011 and Euro U-19 earlier this month. They brought their stacked youth squad to the Olympics and included senior national team players in Jordi Alba, Javi Martinez and Juan Mata.

My silver medal pick Uruguay beat U.A.E. 2-1 and lost to Senegal 2-0. Senegal played the last hour of the match a man down, but held experienced strikers Luis Suarez and Edison Cavani off the scoresheet. Uruguay must beat Great Britain in Cardiff on Wednesday to advance to the quarterfinals.

The men’s Brazil team defeated Egypt and Belarus and clinched a spot in the quarterfinals.

On the women’s side, the USA, Japan and Brazil will be in the quarterfinals. For each team the last group match is significant for seeding.



NBC Can Do Whatever they Want, For Now

The biggest Olympic story of the weekend in United States didn’t have to do with competition. The fuss was about NBC not showing prime events live on any of their TV networks.

The United States was one of the only countries in the world that didn’t show the Opening Ceremony on Friday. The ceremony began at 9 pm London time, which is 4 pm eastern time. NBC showed the tape delayed ceremony at 8 pm eastern, which drew some criticism.

Then there was the moment on Saturday afternoon when people started to realize that NBC wasn’t going to show the men’s 400 meter individual medley. This event was promoted heavily and was going to be the first event where Americans Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte competed against each other. The 400 IM was at 7:30 pm London time and NBC elected to show the race in their primetime coverage.

Twitter and the social media world blew up in anger about NBC showing swimming events on tape delay hours after the races took place. It’s a fair complaint in the 21st century, but NBC can get away with tape delay for a few more Olympics.

NBC must get credit for the over 5,500 hours of competition they are showing on their platforms. NBC, NBC Sports Network, MSNBC, Bravo, CNBC and Telemundo (spanish) are part of the USA Olympic coverage. There is also a channel dedicated to basketball and another for soccer. In addition, every event is shown live and on-demand on nbcolympics.com. NBC has spent over a billion dollars for the broadcasting rights of the 2012 Olympics.

With events online, NBC has the right to show what they want in primetime when the price for advertisements and commercials are higher. NBC’s primetime target audience is an older generation that aren’t addicted to Twitter and can stay off the internet long enough to not have the Olympic results spoiled. This target audience is also interested about the unlikely journeys of Olympic athletes. That’s why John McEnroe, Ryan Seacrest and others have been brought in to interview American athletes about their background story.

With the amount of money spent, NBC’s decision can be justified for now.

However, NBC might need to change their way as Twitter gets even more popular. As the young generation becomes older and becomes NBC’s new “target audience”, taped delay events won’t cut it. The beauty of Twitter is getting news instantly and NBC (or whoever owns future Olympic rights) will soon have to show swimming, gymnastics and track & field live.

The “Peacock Network” owns the Olympic rights through 2020. After that other networks may challenge NBC and promising live events could be a key part of an Olympic TV package.

Two Olympic Sports Worth Watching

The biggest appeal of the Olympics is that the gold medal is the top achievement in most of the sports. There are some exceptions, such as basketball, soccer and tennis, but many sports are watched because athletes train for years for a medal. Two sports that I never had interest in caught my eye this weekend. I would only watch both sports during the Olympics and they are much more entertaining than dreaded equestrian.

Archery: I watched the men’s team archery final on Saturday. It looks like an easy sport until you see how far they are standing from the target. Team archery was very interesting and was actually nervous when the USA took on Italy in the final. I was rooting for the USA of course, but give the overweight Italian credit for getting a bullseye to win a gold medal.

Fencing: An odd sport with a strategy I don’t understand. The competitors wear a lot of protective gear and their helmets light up so the crowd knows who made contact with their opponent first. The best part of the sport is when both athletes celebrate and try to sell to the referee that they should get the point. In the fencing I saw, the Italian women swept the medals.

NCAA Got Penn State Punishment Right

It wasn’t the death penalty, but the NCAA laid the hammer down on Penn State on Monday that will cripple the football program for years.

Penn State was fined $60 million, faces a four year bowl ban, loss of scholarships and all their wins between 1998-2011 have been forfeited. A very harsh punishment and one that had to be done.

The NCAA have let corrupt programs off easy in the past. This Penn State case was their opportunity to gain more credibility and try to prevent other programs from severe violations. It is no secret that college sports is as corrupt as FIFA and now they have more respect in the eyes of fans.

It was clear that the Penn State officials turned their back and pretended not to know about what Jerry Sandusky was doing. The highest members at the school were involved and the entire institution faces the consequences.

You can sympathize with the fans in State College and also the current football players. However, the NCAA is allowing current Penn State players to transfer without penalty or losing any eligibility. This will cause, and already has, a pro sport style free agent frenzy a month before the college football season begins.

There are reports that Penn State might not play football this year because many student athletes are planning on transferring or decommitting. It is a little early to tell, but something to consider. Looking ahead, with no postseason play in four years and lack of scholarships, Penn State could be a FCS level football team playing the Big 10.