In the thousands of hours of Olympics coverage, there’s plenty of nuance that casual fans can scarcely understand, especially with the schizophrenic hop-scotch between events. Very few Americans can be accused of being experts in swimming, field hockey and canoeing all at once. Be it the black card handed out in fencing and badminton or the ever-present tape that lines athletes musculature, much requires background. Even the Barney-purple barriers and the strange Olympic typeface bear explaining.
The BBC proffers clarification with their list of “Twenty Lesser-Spotted Things of the Olympics,” answering questions like why all track events run counter clockwise. The article also points out how Dr. Dre has managed to circumvent prohibitions against marketing and that private school athletes have won 32% of Team GB’s medals, though 93% percent of the nation receives a state education. There is a healthy dose of sarcasm as well, necessary after NBC’s unrelenting enthusiasm, jingoism, and heavy-handed branding (i.e. the Fab Five), and a decent amount of dinner-table trivia, like who first used medal as a verb and why Team GB (not Team UK) is offensive to some.
The mother of American gymnast Aly Raisman was less eloquent, shouting “stick it, stick it” throughout her daughter’s performance on the uneven bars last weekend. No-one could argue that watching your own child perform isn’t agonising to watch, Lynn’s peculiar facial and body contortions really caught the eye. Dad Ricky joined in. They squirmed, they gyrated and the video went viral.
For your viewing pleasure: