Robert Weintraub has been hit and miss at Slate lately, but is certainly on the mark here:
Yesterday, I wrote about how the sabre is the most entertaining event in the Summer Games. I should've known that NBC would find a way to screw it up.
First, CNBC botched the ending of the thrilling final bout in the men's sabre by failing to show a replay of the decisive final touch. Yesterday, the peacock screwed up its coverage of the women's gold-medal match even more royally. The original plan was to have complete coverage of the four final women's matches on the cable channel Bravo. But, presumably when the NBC brass learned that surprising American Mariel Zagunis won the gold medal, the match was shifted away from the cable ghetto to prime-time coverage on the network.
That would have been fine, except fencing had to be crammed in next to old standbys swimming and gymnastics. As such, NBC condensed the thrilling gold-medal match, in which an American won a fencing gold medal for the first time in 100 years. A bout that would have taken a mere 10 or 15 minutes to show from start to finish was instead compressed into about five points. Of course, the weepy medal ceremony was shown in its entirety.
How many medal ceremonies must the network show? What's the point? I'm guessing it's my Mom, who took my son to Greece two years ago - I paid my own way, as these trips are gifts to the grandkids and not her kids! But despite her demographic profile, she'd much rather see the sport (and the accomplishment), than hear the winner's anthem.