Summer Olympics Preview Part 4: Obscure Trivia, What to Watch, and Phelps vs Lochte Revisited

[Editor’s Note: And just like that we’ve arrived at Opening Day of the 2012 Summer Olympics. It seems like just yesterday Nkilla and I were discussing the crazy sport known as the Modern Pentathlon or the phenomenon that is olympic swimming. While those posts were actually weeks ago, we pretty much did just get done discussing the olympic sport best suited for a normal civilian to compete in successfully. We decided for our final email exchange to really empty out the proverbial notebook. In this fourth post, we ask each other some very obscure trivia questions, talk about the best events to watch and how to watch them, revisit the Phelps vs. Lochte debate, and show you the next “big” thing in Beach Volleyball. There’s something for everyone so please enjoy.]

From: Rmurdera

To: Nkilla

OK, we’re in the home stretch for the London Games to kick off so it’s now or never to get any final words of advice out there to our beloved readers. Rather than pose the question of who are the hottest female athletes in the Olympics, several websites have already done the hard work for us. Here is the Bleacher Report’s “100 Hottest Female Olympians of 2012.” http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1223953-100-hottest-olympians-of-2012/

That covers all countries.

And Men’s Fitness has come out with their version, the Sexiest US Olympic Women: http://www.menshealth.com/olympics/sexiest-female-olympians

Instead of us debating who’s the hottest athlete, I’ve run some stats on the top 30 according to the Bleacher Report I referenced above (because who cares about anyone outside of the top 30 honestly?).

Here’s what I found:

-In terms of countries, Italy has 3 women in the top 30, Russia has 4 women in the top 30, and the US has a whopping 10 women in the top 30.

-In terms of sport, tennis occupies 3 of the top 30, volleyball and beach volleyball each have 3 in the top 30, track & field has 4 in the top 30, and soccer has 7.

How do you feel upon hearing those stats? Does it line up with what you would have expected? Is it really possible that the US has 1/3rd of the hottest 30 female athletes in the olympics? After all, there are 205 total countries competing in the olympics…seems a bit absurd to think such a large concentration of hotness is coming from one country.

And what about Soccer having the most spots? Are soccer chicks really that good looking? Would you have expected any other sport to make a run at soccer before I showed you these stats?

A little random trivia for you…I just mentioned that 205 countries are competing in this year’s Olympics. Can you guess how many countries are competing from each of these continents…Africa, Asia, and Europe? Don’t google it, just try to guess.

And finally, do you wanna weigh in for our audience on the whole “London is 8 hours ahead of the West Coast of the US so watching the important events on TV without having Twitter, Facebook or ESPN ruin the results ahead of time is going to be a challenge” issue? What’s the best way for people to watch the events? And remember that some people can’t sit in an office and stream the games live on their 2nd and 3rd monitors like you can…

From: Nkilla

To: Rmurdera

Regarding the attractive and obviously-smart-as-well women of the Olympics:

You retrieved your lists from websites that are primarily visited by US citizens, so I am not surprised how many of the top 30 are American. If you found a popular German site that came up with the same list, I wonder what the results would be. Although, the US tends to be able to qualify women for all events, which cannot be said for most other countries, so since US women make up the largest percentage of all female Olympians maybe it makes sense that they have a higher percentage of smart and attractive athletes. I almost want to apply math to the soccer situation as well. Each soccer team has 22 or so ladies to choose from so it probably makes sense mathematically that soccer yields the highest percentage of smart and attractive women. My prediction though is that there is going to be some women’s beach volleyball team that garners a lot of attention for something other than their play. I feel like it happens every Olympics. Misty May and Kerri Walsh are getting a little older now so they are past their prime with their “non-athletic appeal,” but someone is going to step up. My prediction is Kolocova & Slukova.

As for your “countries by continent” trivia, here are my answers:

Africa = 35

Asia = 37

Europe = 44

Those are all just guesses; I did not google it. Here is an interesting question related to country participation. For international soccer, England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland all field their own teams as independent nations. Yet for the Olympics, they all compete as the single nation of the United Kingdom. Why? And could Canada and Australia join the UK team if they wanted?

The best way to watch the events is live, either at home or on your computer. Most of the medal events will happen late in the day London time, which means sometime between 9am-noon Pacific Time. When NBC shows the replay, you know they are going to save the best events for the end of their primetime broadcast, so we are talking between 11pm-midnight. I do not believe the average sports fan can keep themselves from finding out the results for up to 15 hours, so really if you care about not having it spoiled for you, then you need to find a way to watch it live.

I bought a copy of the Sports Illustrated Olympic Preview issue the other day because they try and predict the winners of every single medal, and I am toying with the idea of tracking how accurate they are. My guess is that they are going to be around 20% with picking the exact winner of the exact medal for each event. In terms having their three picks for each event win any medal, do you think they will be over or under 50%? I’m going to go with slightly over. They are also predicting the US and China to tie with 42 golds each, and the US to edge out China in total medals 99 to 97.

Another fun thing about the SI preview: They put a fun little sentence about the sport or competitor for each event. For instance, after the Men’s Individual Archery picks, they wrote “Two-time champ Im (the gentleman they picked for the gold) has 20/200 vision.” So my guessing game back at you: here are my favorite tidbits; Can you figure out what event they belong to?

“The Wangs are not related.”

“Nevin beat his cousin Michael to win the Irish nationals.” (This one is only good once you figure out the sport and imagine that the Irish qualifications happen drunk one night outside a bar.)

“McKeever will soon qualify as a chartered accountant.”

“Ex-bartender Heath can mix 150 cocktails.”

“Daley’s coach taunted Qiu on Twitter this year.”

“Fox-Pitt’s middle name is Speed Lane.”

“Orozco had three background roles in Law & Order.”

“New Zealand’s Logan Campbell opened a legal brothel to fund his training.”

“Cheywa attended police college.”

From: Rmurdera

To: Nkilla

Let’s tackle the trivia portion of your email first.

Africa actually has 51 countries participating while Asia and Europe have 45 countries in the olympics. The reason I asked—and really the only reason this caught me off guard—is because my entire knowledge of Africa and its countries is from the board game Risk. And in that game, there are all of six countries represented. I always thought there was something like 6-12 total countries on that continent.

For your really random and obscure trivia questions, here are your quotes again with my answers and my rationale:

“The Wangs are not related.” = Table Tennis: because Wangs = Asians and Asians = Good at Ping Pong

“Nevin beat his cousin Michael to win the Irish nationals.” (This one is only good once you figure out the sport and imagine that the Irish qualifications happen drunk one night outside a bar.) = Wrestling: because your clue of being drunk outside a bar makes me think it’s a head-to-head fighting type of event, and I don’t see the Irish having anyone entered into Boxing

“McKeever will soon qualify as a chartered accountant.” = Sailing: because people charter things like planes and boats, right? And a lot of accountants probably like sailboats.

“Ex-bartender Heath can mix 150 cocktails.” = Handball: because playing handball seems to be as athletic of a sport as mixing cocktails.

“Daley’s coach taunted Qiu on Twitter this year.” = Badminton: because I have no fucking clue.

“Fox-Pitt’s middle name is Speed Lane.” = Track & Field: because speed lane makes me think of a fast runner.

“Orozco had three background roles in Law & Order.” = Shooting: because this one was obvious…Law & Order is about the police, who have guns, which maybe means this guy shot a fake gun in his background roles and that helped him become an Olympic shooter.

“New Zealand’s Logan Campbell opened a legal brothel to fund his training.” = Water Polo: because it seems like the type of sport that New Zealand would be randomly good at.

“Cheywa attended police college.” = Modern Pentathlon: because at police college you’re probably schooled in shooting, riding a horse, running and maybe sword fighting, and those are four of the events in the Pentathlon.

One final topic I want to revisit before we sign off for good on the Olympics Preview is the Phelps vs. Lochte debate. Even though the rivalry’s cooled down a bit since the US Swimming Trials were broadcast a few weeks ago, it’s going to be ratcheted back up on Day One (July 28th) when they begin their first event, the 400M Individual Medley. Are you rooting for the favorite, the dominant force, the Tiger Woods of swimming (Phelps, obviously)? Or are you rooting for the underdog, the guy who would be the favorite if Phelps wasn’t around, and apparently the more likable guy (Lochte)? Everything I read says that while Phelps doesn’t show much personality to the public, and he doesn’t do much with his time besides swim and pretend to eat at Subway, Lochte is the polar opposite…he’s apparently a “fun-loving, easygoing guy,” and besides swimming he likes to play basketball, volleyball and go surfing.

Do you root for dominance to continue, even if the person doing the dominating doesn’t relate to regular people very well? Or do you root for the underdog who’s apparently a lot more relatable to a normal person?

From: Nkilla

To: Rmurdera

OK, here are the answers to my trivia quotes:

“The Wangs are not related.” = Women’s Singles Badminton

“Nevin beat his cousin Michael to win the Irish nationals.” (This one is only good once you figure out the sport and imagine that the Irish qualifications happen drunk one night outside a bar.)  = Boxing (Irish not entered in boxing? Come on, Rmurdera, they would not let the legacy of Hurricane Peter McNeeley die.)

“McKeever will soon qualify as a chartered accountant.”  = Men’s 200m Kayak Singles

“Ex-bartender Heath can mix 150 cocktails.” = Men’s 200m Kayak Doubles (Seems like if you are good at kayaking you have a lot of free time. Maybe you should take this up).

“Daley’s coach taunted Qiu on Twitter this year.” = Men’s 10m Platform 

“Fox-Pitt’s middle name is Speed Lane.” = Equestrian (So just to be clear, “William Speed Lane Fox-Pitt” is the name of the jockey, not the horse.)

“Orozco had three background roles in Law & Order.” = Gymnastics

“New Zealand’s Logan Campbell opened a legal brothel to fund his training.” = Taekwondo (Makes sense, right? A pimp needs to be able to beat down both employees and customers when necessary.)

“Cheywa attended police college.” = Steeplechase (Also makes sense, the running and jumping over things.)

As for your Risk perspective on Africa, does that mean you have thought the USA was made up of only two states (an eastern state and a western state) for the past 30 years? Also, in any history class throughout high school or college, if there was a question on a test as to how a war started, did you simply just write the one word answer: “Siam”?

I’m going to keep the Phelps vs Lochte argument simple since I already talked about it in part two of our Olympic preview:

After seeing Lochte’s picture on his wikipedia page and seeing he is from New York, I decided he looks like a typical Yankees fan so I am completely “Team Phelps” when they go head-to-head, but I’ll switch back to “Team Lochte” any time he is competing against the Russians.

Finally, for anyone wondering what events they should consider watching over the first weekend of the games:

MUST WATCH:

Men’s 400m IM Final – Saturday 11:30am

Women’s 400m IM Final – Saturday 12:10pm

Women’s 4×100 Free Final – Saturday 12:40pm

Men’s 100m Breast Final – Sunday 12:00pm

Men’s 4×100 Free Final – Sunday 12:50pm

Men’s 200m Free Final – Monday 11:40am

IF YOU HAPPEN TO BE BY A TV:

Men’s 132 lb Judo Medal match – Saturday 8am (Although if this is not exactly like the All Valley Karate Championship from Karate Kid, including music, I’m going to be pissed.)

Men’s Team Archery Medal Match – Saturday 10am (I’m expecting Hunger Games, but with adults)

Men’s 400m Free Final – Saturday 11:50am

Men’s 145 lb Judo Medal match – Sunday 8am

Women’s Team Archery Medal Match – Sunday 10am

Men’s Individual Sabre Final – Sunday 11:10am

Women’s 100m Fly Final – Sunday 11:30am

Women’s 400m Free Final – Sunday 12:15pm

Men’s 161 lb Judo Medal match – Monday 8am

Women’s 100m Back Final – Monday 11:50am

Men’s 100m Back Final – Monday 11:55am

Women’s 100m Breast Final – Monday 12:10pm

IF YOU WANT TO MAKE YOUR WIFE/GIRLFRIEND HAPPY:

Men’s Team Gymnastic Finals – Monday 8:30am

To: Nkilla

From: Rmurdera

I know you had addressed the Phelps/Lochte rivalry earlier, but I was hoping you’d give us a little more substance than “Lochte’s a Yankees fan so I don’t like him.” My opinion is that I want Phelps to dominate again. I hate an underdog success story. I always root for the scenario where I’ll be able to tell your kids someday that I saw the most dominant athlete at a given sport in his prime. That’s why even amidst the Tiger Woods personal life meltdown a few years ago, I’m still hoping he crushes the Major Championships record. I always root for the favorites, at least until the first sign of disappointment. No one jumps off a bandwagon quite as quickly as me.

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Topeka’s Biggest Celebrity Visits LA Then Writes About It…Sort Of

[Editor’s Note: You’ve probably noticed guest blogs popping up on the WBFF blog recently. Not only does this give me more free time to sit by the pool at my apartment complex and take random weekday trips to Palm Springs (my current location), but it allows me to tweak my resume to say something like, “Responsible for managing a team of writers on an internationally-renowned blog.” I’m happy to introduce a new guest blogger today, Matt Blanchette. And he’s not just any ordinary Schmoe…Matt happens to be the pride of Topeka…Yes, Topeka, Kansas. Feel free to read more about my most famous guest blogger HERE. Matt was our first official visitor in LA over the 4th of July week, and we did our best to stay busy. We agreed that having him write about his experiences would be a good way for other would-be-visitors to decide if visiting us in LA is worthwhile or not. For some reason he seemed nervous about writing too much in this blog post (something about boring people, which I try never to worry about), so I’ve taken the liberty of adding to his thoughts (my comments in red). Enjoy.]

First off, I want to thank Ross for allowing me to be his second guest blogger, and god help me I am determined to do better than a series of blogs about Euro League Soccer.

I found myself with some free time over 4th of July and campaigned some friends for a free place to stay. Ross and Julie were very insistent that I head west, so LA it was.

Our visit started with a look at Ross’ new “haircut.” And by “haircut”, I mean “letting it grow out in any direction for as long as possible without ever trying to tame it in any way.” Turns out, I missed the accompanying mustache by a few days. So if this whole comedy writer thing doesn’t pan out, I am sure there is a 70’s era porn star impersonation gig available for Ross. [It’s true, I haven’t gotten a haircut in at least three months. I tried to keep the mustache going for as long as possible, but it got really itchy and almost caused me to be unexpectedly single. Here are some pictures of the three-week experimental mustache and the “hair growing in any direction.”]

First stop on my trip, a hike in Malibu. Aside from getting lost looking for a lake, which turned out to be nothing more than a puddle, the highlight came from a 15-year-old girl at the swimming hole. Basically this was a cliff jump into the water, but one girl decided to stand on the edge of the cliff for 20 minutes while everyone screamed at her to either jump or die.

Long story short, after we left, three fire engines and ambulances raced towards the hole. I can only assume this is her:

[Matt’s totally underselling just how ridiculous this swimming hole scene was at Malibu Creek State Park. It was a small swimming area littered with douchey teenagers who had absolutely no adult supervision. If it hadn’t been so damn hot out, and if we hadn’t been promising Matt an awesome lake to swim in, we probably wouldn’t have bothered jumping into the swimming hole because it just seemed like something bad was going to happen with all those kids. Julie even said this out loud while we were swimming. The funny part (if there is a funny part to this story) was when we left the hole and were walking down the trail towards the parking lot. We heard sirens in the distance and joked about how they must be coming up to Malibu Creek because that girl who refused to jump fell off the cliff and killed herself. Two minutes later those fire engines and ambulances are tearing up the trail towards the hole. Anyway, below is a picture that kind of shows you what we’re talking about. And also, getting lost wasn’t a total downer because Matt & Julie got to play inside some props from M*A*S*H.]

After Malibu Creek, it was off to a Malibu Vineyard…where they happened to be shooting season one of “Ready For Love,” the new reality show from your favorite housewife and mine, Eva Longoria.

The setup is simple: a good-looking guy takes multiple women out on dates one after another. In this case Ben, the good-looking guy, had his choice of five or six very attractive, though malnourished, females. I admit, I do not watch reality dating shows, but it was wild.

One of the female producers (who we called Scissors, for her ability to scissor the girls to put them in a good mood) had the unenviable job of coddling each woman while Ben was on dates with the others. In one case a hysterical woman was only put at ease when she was handed another bottle of wine to suck on. Basically all the women sit in the “bullpen” and wait for Ben to call on them.

Ben did get some action, to which I gleefully proclaimed “They’re kissing, they’re kissing.” (I had an entire bottle of wine.)

Look for this scene on the show on NBC this fall!

[Matt’s description of the “They’re kissing, they’re kissing!” moment doesn’t come close to doing it justice. Here’s how I would have described it: “And after two hours of staring at these reality show contestants nonstop—to the point where we wouldn’t have been surprised if security had asked us to leave the premises—we finally saw Ben essentially choose his favorite girl by making out with her…at which point Matt turned into a fifth grader who was seeing two of his classmates kiss for the first time, and he exclaimed in a pre-pubescent shriek, “They’re kissing, they’re kissing!!!”]

Day two (4th of July) was Dodgers Day. If you have not been to Dodgers Stadium, don’t, or at least do not sit in left field. It is basically a stockade. Fans have no access to center or right field, nor the rest of the stadium. You have one bathroom, and one concession stand, which has limited food options (dodger dog, chips, and cracker jacks).

And check out the scoreboard:

I felt like I was watching RBI baseball 1993. Nicely done, Frank McCourt.

As for transportation options, there are none. The traffic is a nightmare, and to walk (which we did) takes about 30 minutes to get to civilization. Luckily we found a dive bar that included a shot of Patron with every beer.

But hey, at least the fireworks at the stadium were good.

[OK, I gotta stop you right there, Matt. The night of the baseball game escalated quickly because when we finally got to “civilization” and jumped inside a bar, the bartender confused me with a drink special to the point where I ended up ordering each of us a beer and two shots. And even though we decided that was too many shots, we went ahead and ordered a third shot just moments later. Other things of note that happened after those shots were: Matt contemplating drinking a beer that a stranger had left on our table, Matt buying a 12-pack of Budweiser over Miller Lite just because the cans had an American Flag symbol on them, Matt & Julie getting in an argument over the difference between a pizza with buffalo sauce on it and a pizza with buffalo mozzarella on it (I did the sensible thing and ordered the pizza with buffalo mozzarella AND got a side order of buffalo wings), and finally, Matt working up the courage to get a picture with one of our childhood idols, the Ultimate Warrior…see below.]

Most of you have stopped reading the blog by now so I will speed through days three and four.

[Matt is really underestimating how bored the WBFF blog readers are at their jobs. He doesn’t seem to understand that people have been reading my ramblings for months now.]

Going to the beach is never a sure bet in LA, as far as I can tell. We were not blessed in that arena.

[What Matt is trying to say here is that we didn’t get good beach weather, and as a matter of fact, I haven’t yet been to the beach in LA when it has been beach weather. I hope that changes soon because why the hell did I move here if it wasn’t for the beach? Here’s a picture to show you just how non-beachy the weather is every time I try to bring someone to a beach in California.]

[For some reason, Matt decided to leave out two of the coolest things we saw on Day Three of his visit: the back of the Hollywood sign (sure everyone can see the front of it from all over LA, but how often do you see the back?), and people randomly getting foamed up and washed down at Venice Beach.]

And if you plan to be a tourist and do sightseeing when you go to LA, appeal to Julie. Ross is not sympathetic in that area.

[Completely true. I will pretend like LA has no sightseeing or landmarks until you’re convinced. And if you’re still not convinced, I’ll tell you that they are all closed for maintenance.]

Also in LA, everyone seems to be in the entertainment business or curious if you are. And you “think” you see celebs everywhere, but we really did not see any that I know of.

[Wow, Matt totally glossed over the fact that on Night Three when we went to a free concert at the Santa Monica Pier, him & Julie spent the entire time staring at a group of people and debating whether one of the women was a celebrity. The entire night. I’m not even exaggerating. Matt was saying things like, “I watch A LOT of TV so I’d know if she was famous…unless she’s on one of those Real Housewives shows or reality TV.” To which Julie quickly replied, “Oh, I’ve got those covered. She’s not from one of those shows.”  This topic is ripe for an entirely separate blog…thinking we see famous people but never being able to put a name to the face.]

So I guess the point of this blog is to get others to visit LA, so I would recommend it. Maybe that will buy me a second blog.

[Gee, thanks for the ringing endorsement, Matt. “I guess Ross wants me to say LA was fun so others will visit…so yeah, it was fun.”]

[For anyone who does decide to visit, I can’t guarantee that we’ll see the filming of a not-going-to-be-on-the-air-long-anyway reality dating show, but I promise we can find a group of people to stare at in Santa Monica and discuss how each of them might be famous.]

Summer Olympics Preview Part 2: Swimming, Team Phelps vs Team Lochte

[Editor’s Note: You’re about to read Part 2 of our Summer Olympic Preview.  If you missed Part 1 and you’re dying to know more about the Modern Pentathlon, click here. In Part 2 we discuss Swimming, perhaps the most popular Summer Olympic event.  But just why is it the most popular? You’ll have to continue reading to find out. Also, a big congrats to Nkilla for giving birth to a baby boy yesterday. Well, his wife gave birth actually; he sat outside in the waiting room working on this blog with me the whole time. As happy as we are for him at the WBFF blog, we are giving him no excuse to stop blogging.  If anything, he should be blogging more frequently while he spends time with his new bundle of joy.  That baby’s going to sleep for like 20 hours a day…that’s prime blogging time.]

From: Rmurdera

To: Nkilla

Now that we’ve covered perhaps the most obscure olympic sport—the Pentathlon—let’s change gears and talk about some of the more popular events. Have you guys been watching any of the qualifying stuff that’s on at primetime every night?

I assume if you’ve been watching anything, it’s the swimming right?

If so, is your wife getting as illogically excited over the races and specifically Michael Phelps as my girlfriend is?  Maybe it’s because Julie was a swimmer in high school, but she’s dancing around the house saying things like, “oh my god, this is the best sport ever.  Why isn’t it as popular as football?”
She was screaming for Phelps one night last week and just kept going “Come on, Michael, come on!” Apparently they’re on a first-name basis. Oh, and after one of his qualifying events she said that she wishes she had the same birthday as Phelps. No explanation on that.
I was enjoying the swimming trials right up until we had to watch an eight-minute event, the 800M Women’s Freestyle. They went to commercial in the middle of the race…that, to me, means it’s too long of a race.
Anyway, my question is what’s the main reason, in your opinion, that swimming is the most popular sport in the Summer Olympics?
A). Like Julie said, it truly is just the best sport ever.
B). It’s only popular right now because of Michael Phelps and as soon as the next olympics comes and he’s not around, the popularity will drop off.
C). The Summer Olympics sneakily has mostly really terrible events so swimming wins as the default only decent event.

From: Nkilla

To: Rmurdera

I think the answer lies somewhere between B and C.

First of all, I would argue that the Summer Olympics has two major events that do not fall within the realm of main stream sports: swimming and track & field. The Olympic Committee knows these are the main attractions because all the swimming happens in the first seven days, all the track & field happens in the last seven days, and they don’t overlap. I think the general population is attracted to these two events because almost everyone knows how to swim, and almost everyone knows how to run and jump, so people feel some sort of kinship to the athletes. I also have a sneaking suspicion that a lot of people are either into the swimming or into the track & field, but not both.

Back to the original question: I went back and looked at the swimming results for every olympics since 1988 (since that is the first olympics I can remember following) because I had a feeling that each olympics had a dominant swimmer involved. It turned out I was mostly right: 1988 Matt Biondi (7 total medals, 5 gold), 1992 Alexander Popov (5 total, 3 gold), 2000 (Ian Thorpe 5 total, 3 gold and all happening in his home country), 2004 Michael Phelps (8 total, 6 gold), 2008 Michael Phelps (8 total, 8 gold). The only year without a dominant male swimmer is 1996, and that year the US as a whole dominated the swimming, including winning gold in all six relays. What I am getting at here is that I think there is a chance that swimming is only popular because there is a dominant swimmer to follow in each games. I expect that to be fueled additionally by the “Phelps vs Lochte” hype this year. (Side question: Have you done any research yet to see if we should be “Team Phelps” or “Team Lochte”?)
Do you think my theory on “swimming only being popular because there is a dominant swimmer” holds water (pun intended)? Do you have a favorite discipline or race you look forward to more than others in the swimming area? And finally, the front crawl, back stroke, and breast stroke all seem to be natural swimming motions, but where the hell did they come up with the butterfly?

From: Rmurdera

To: Nkilla

I’m in agreement with you that swimming is only popular because there’s a dominant swimmer we can latch onto each year. I think that’s how being a casual fan works. If the network broadcasting the olympics (with the help of ESPN and other media outlets) doesn’t create a compelling storyline that makes us connect with a specific athlete in these obscure olympic sports, then we won’t follow. There’s no such thing as a true, hardcore olympic fan. If someone tells you that they really are fans of any of the sports we’ll be seeing in August (except basketball or soccer of course), be sure to ask them when was the last time they caught the swimming, gymnastics or wrestling world championships on TV.

This brings me back to why I’ll be tuning in for swimming this summer, but won’t even notice when things like track & field, cycling, archery and gymnastics are going on. Swimming has done an incredible job creating compelling storylines for us. And the storylines vary. In the past 14 days, I’ve been tuning into the US swimming trials to see the greatest olympic athlete ever try to qualify for another chance at eight gold medals (Phelps), a 45-year-old woman trying to earn a spot in her sixth olympic games (Dara Torres), a 17-year-old phenom outswim the field over and over on her way to qualifying for seven events in London (Missy Franklin) and Phelps’ closest competitor and biggest “rival” try to overtake Phelps once and for all (Ryan Lochte). There’s so much drama, intrigue and stimulation that my nipples just got hard from typing the previous sentence.

As for my favorite discipline to watch, all I can tell you is breaststroke is my least favorite…it’s just so slow. I think the individual medleys are pretty sweet because the swimmers are tested in all four strokes, and I’m always expecting one of them to screw up and do them in the wrong order. I can also tell you I won’t be watching any events where NBC could theoretically take a full commercial break, return to live action and inform us that the race still has halfway to go (sorry, Women’s 800M and Men’s 1500M Swims…I don’t have time for you).

And by the way, don’t bother googling the history of the butterfly…it’s far less exciting than when I googled the Ancient Pentathlon. Basically some guy didn’t like how slow the breaststroke was and decided to tinker with it. Boom, butterfly born in 1933.

What are your thoughts on Phelps’s decision to drop out of the 200M Freestyle, thus ending his chance to repeat the eight gold medal haul from 2008?

From: Nkilla

To: Rmurdera

I know one true olympic fan: my father-in-law. He loves track & field almost as much as we love football. He watches the world championships every year in his living room and times the races with his own stopwatch to make sure the official timer does not mess up. (I’m only slightly exaggerating. I went to the Olympic trials with him in Sacramento in 2004 and he did bring his own stopwatch.)

I’m fine with Phelps not doing eight events again. That was such a ridiculous goal he set for himself in 2008 and amazing that he made it happen. He should treat these olympics as his victory lap and only do the events he knows he can win with minimal effort. He deserves it. Though I do wish he would have dropped one of the relays instead. Phelps and Lochte will go head-to-head in the two IM races. Phelps holds the world record in the 400, Lochte in the 200. So assuming they split the IMs, the 200m Freestyle would have been the tiebreaker. I can definitely see the potential for a “Dan-Dave” situation where Lochte fails to qualify for the finals in the 400 and faults his way out of the 200 or something like that. Also, after just seeing Lochte’s picture on his wikipedia page, I decided he looks like a typical Yankees fan so I am completely “Team Phelps” when they go head-to-head, but I’ll switch back to “Team Lochte” any time he is competing against the Russians.

The compelling story lines are nice, but let’s not forget 50% of the reason to tune into the swimming events, Finland’s Finest.

Another thing that makes swimming highly popular amongst the viewing audience: for the first eight days of the games, swimming will have four medal events per day. Should I rank the eight days of swimming from best to worst medal events by day? I think I should:

1. 28-Jul (M: 400 IM & 400 Free; W: 400 IM & 4×100 Free)

2. 4-Aug (M: 4×100 Medley & 1500 Free; W: 50 Free & 4×100 Medley)

3. 3-Aug (M: 100 Fly & 50 Free; W: 200 Back & 800 Free)

4. 31-Jul (M: 200 Fly & 4×200 Free; W: 200 Free & 200 IM)

5. 29-Jul (M: 100 Breast & 4×100 Free; W: 100 Fly & 400 Free)

6. 1-Aug (M: 200 Breast & 100 Free; W: 200 Fly & 4×200 Free)

7. 2-Aug (M: 200 Back & 200 IM; W: 200 Breast & 100 Free)

8. 30-Jul (M: 200 Free & 100 Back; W: 100 Back & 100 Breast)

From: Rmurdera

To: Nkilla

I love when you put the TV schedule/event logistics in your email because it tells me it’s time to wrap this conversation up. I never answered your “Team Phelps” vs “Team Lochte” question, but I think it’s fairly obvious from my original email that if I don’t choose Team Phelps, I’m likely to have a girlfriend who refuses to talk to me until the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Summer Olympics Preview Part 1: Pentathlons, the Modern & Naked Kinds

[Editor’s Note: Now that I’ve found my obscure-sports guest blogger, Neil “nkilla” Gariepy, I’m ready to expand his role on the WBFF blog.  With the Summer Olympics less than four weeks away, nkilla and I will be previewing the London Games on a weekly basis.  There will be no rhyme or reason to what we talk about, and we will make absolutely no attempt to educate ourselves properly before throwing out wild theories and opinions.  The format of these Olympic blogs will be that of an email exchange between the two of us.  Basically one of us will ask a question via email to kickoff the conversation, and then we’ll trade emails back and forth until the topic has exhausted itself.  Sometimes that might be 15 emails; sometimes it might be one.  When we finally kill a topic, I’ll post the transcript as a new blog post.  Enjoy.]

From: Nkilla

To: Rmurdera

So I was doing some research for the Olympic preview at lunch today. Came across the event known as the Modern Pentathlon. I would like you to guess which five events make up the Modern Pentathlon. Don’t google it, just guess first. I feel like there should be a $10 million prize if you could somehow guess all five. It is probably worth $100 if you could even guess three of them.

From: Rmurdera

To: Nkilla

Off the top of my head:

-Steeple Chase
-Equestrian Jumping/Obstacle Course
-Joust?
-400M running
-Discus
As you can tell, I wouldn’t even stake $5 on me getting one of those correct.

From: Nkilla

To: Rmurdera

The actual answer is:
Fencing
Pistol Shooting
Show jumping (on a horse)
200m swim
3k run
How does someone become good at all five of those things?

From: Rmurdera

To: Nkilla

Better question than “how does someone become good at all five of those things?”….in which order does someone usually become good at each of these things?  Are there people who are good fencers, then they try shooting a pistol one day, discover they’re good at that, and then research what they can do to combine these two skills?  Leading them to have to get good at the other three events if they ever want to be relevant?

Is it people who are only mediocre at running and swimming, knowing they’ll never be able to compete with the best of the best in those individual events so they decide to learn the other events?

I think we track down the US team’s representatives of the pentathlon after the olympics and try to interview them to find out all the answers we’re seeking.

Seriously, which order do you think they get good at these things in?

From: Nkilla

To: Rmurdera

If I had to guess I would say you are good at the horse jumping and shooting first, then you add the other three things. And only because I can see some crazy scenario where people are riding through the woods on their horse shooting at foxes and they somehow realize they’re 40% of the way to being good at a sport.

But the real question is how did this even become a sport in the first place? Did this exact sequence of events happen enough times circa 1850 that it evolved into a sport:

Winston and Charles have an argument that results in a sword duel. After 10 minutes of dueling, Winston gets tired with the sword fight and decides to just shoot Charles. The authorities hear the gun shot which requires Winston to ride his horse through town while being chased. At some point Winston gets to a river, which his horse cannot cross, so he has to swim across. Once Winston makes it across the river, he needs to run a bit to create more distance if the authorities decide to cross the river after him.

Also, if this is the “modern” pentathlon, I can only imagine what made up the “ancient” pentathlon.

From: Rmurdera

To: Nkilla

Well thanks to google and wikipedia, you don’t need to imagine what made up the ancient version:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_Olympic_pentathlon

Long Jump

Javelin

Discus

Stadion (short foot race)

Wrestling

At least a few of these events are actually somewhat related to each other (four of them being part of what we think “track & field” is).

Because the “ancient pentathlon” is so, um, ancient, there’s a lot of speculation around the origin, the order of the events, the scoring, etc.  But the historians seem to think that each of these events was thought to be useful in battle.  That’s the functional relevancy of the five being grouped together.  For the Modern Pentathlon, I like your Winston & Charles story as the reasoning for the five random events to be grouped together.

I’m really glad I read the entire wikipedia entry on the ancient pentathlon because the very last line says, “In the classical games, it was traditional for all of these events to be performed naked.”

I’d love to see the modern one performed naked…especially fencing.  I wonder how NBC would handle the broadcast and highlights of this event if that was the case.

Since you’re probably more on top of the TV schedule for this event and any significant rule changes for this year’s contest, why don’t you bring these emails to a close with some final thoughts and predictions.

From: Nkilla

To: Rmurdera

Apparently they are tweaking the format a little this year to make it more TV friendly. For the first three events (fencing, swim, horse jump) the athletes score various points based on how well they do. Based on their standings after that, they stagger the start for the combined run and shoot portion. So depending on scores in the first three events, the person in first place may have a three second head start for the run and shoot over the second place person, eight seconds over the third place person, and so on. The result is that the first person to cross the finish line at the end of the run and shoot is your gold medal winner. Obviously this works way better for TV because the average Winston sitting at home can tell who wins. A surprisingly logical move by the Olympic committee on this one. For those interested, the run and shoot part for the men should start around 10:45am on Saturday, August 11th, and 10:00am on Sunday, August 12th, for the women.

Do we think the USA has a chance in this obscure sport? Not likely. Currently, the highest-ranked US male in the world rankings is at number 40, and a US male has not medaled in the Modern Pentathlon since the 1960 games. Based on the current world rankings there is a good chance the men’s medals are going to go to some combination of the Russians and Hungarians. A US woman won a silver medal in this event in 2000, but the highest current world ranking for a US female is 41. For you degenerate gamblers out there, the men’s favorite (Andrei Moiseev) is at +250, so there does not seem to be a clear cut favorite on the men’s side. It is even less clear cut on the women’s side, as favorite Lena Schoneborn is at +350.

Final verdict: People should tune in for the 60-minute finale (the run and shoot portion) on the 11th and 12th. It should make for good television with an interesting finish. Bonus points if someone falls on their gun during the run and it goes off, or if they “accidentally” shoot a competitor in front of them.

Also, one reason to watch besides the competition: Chloe Esposito