Category: Sports

My predictions for the World Golf Championships Match Play golf event

Starting several hours from now, 64 of the top male golfers in the entire world will converge on Austin, Texas for the playing of the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play, or WGC Match Play for short. The tournament is unusual by professional golf standards, as, instead of using stroke play, in which the lowest number of strokes wins, match play, a head-to-head format of golf in which the golfer shooting the lowest score on each hole wins the hole, and the golfer winning the most holes wins the match, is used.

Barring schedule changes due to weather and/or other factors, the format of the WGC Match Play is as follows:

  • On Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, round robin matches, with all 64 golfers, each of which were drawn into one of 16 pools of four golfers on Monday and are scheduled to play a single 18-hole match each day, are played, with each player playing the other three players in his pool at some point during the first three days of the event. Only the winner of each pool advances to the elimination portion of the event; the winner of each pool play match receives one point towards determining the winner of each pool, whereas both golfers receive half a point for a halved (i.e., tied) match in pool play.
  • On Saturday, the 16 golfers who qualify for the elimination portion of the event will play a round of 16 match, with the winners of those playing in quarterfinal matches later in the day.
  • On Sunday, the four golfers advancing out of the quarterfinal matches will play in morning semifinal matches, with all four semifinalists playing in the afternoon. The semifinal winners will play each other for the WGC Match Play championship and the Walter Hagen Trophy, whereas the semifinal losers will play each other in a consolation match for third-place.

For pool play, here are my predicted winners:

  • Group 1 – Dustin Johnson
  • Group 2 – Emiliano Grillo
  • Group 3 – Lee Westwood
  • Group 4 – Hideki Matsuyama
  • Group 5 – Jordan Speith
  • Group 6 – Justin Thomas
  • Group 7 – Jon Rahm
  • Group 8 – Bernd Wiesberger
  • Group 9 – Patrick Reed
  • Group 10 – Tyrrell Hatton
  • Group 11 – Russell Knox
  • Group 12 – Charl Schwartzel
  • Group 13 – Thomas Pieters
  • Group 14 – J.B. Holmes
  • Group 15 – Brandt Snedeker
  • Group 16 – Tommy Fleetwood

I predict that Patrick Reed will win the WGC-Match Play title.

The 2016 Order of The Progressive Midwesterner Awards

As 2016 comes to a close, I hereby present the 2016 Order of The Progressive Midwesterner Awards. The Person of the Year will earn a spot on the list of members of the Order of The Progressive Midwesterner. Starting in 2017, listings of individuals on the list of recipients of the Order of The Progressive Midwesterner will become separate from the Order of The Progressive Midwesterner Awards.

PERSON OF THE YEAR – JENNIFER WEISS-WOLF

2016 was, all around, an awful year for progressives, both in the United States and worldwide. However, one bright spot in progressive advocacy is Jennifer Weiss-Wolf, a women’s rights advocate from New York City. Weiss-Wolf’s advocacy for increased access to feminine hygiene products in public restrooms and advocacy for abolition of sales taxes on tampons and other feminine hygiene products has earned her support for her ideas from Democrats and even a few Republicans. States like New York and Illinois have eliminated sales taxes on tampon thanks to Weiss-Wolf’s advocacy, and Weiss’s hometown of New York City has mandated that tampons be made freely available in public restrooms of city schools, jails, and shelters. Jennifer Weiss-Wolf is the ProgMid Person of the Year for 2016.

ELECTED OFFICIAL OF THE YEAR – BERNIE SANDERS

For the second time in consecutive years, Sanders, who represents Vermont in the U.S. Senate and unsuccessfully ran for the Democratic presidential nomination this year, is the recipient of a ProgMid award. Although Sanders didn’t win his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination and isn’t technically a Democrat, he has had a significant and largely positive impact on the Democratic Party. Sanders successfully pushed to make the national Democratic Party platform, which is non-binding for Democratic candidates, more progressive than in previous years and decades. Sanders helped bring progressive policies like making higher education truly affordable, single-payer health insurance, and expanding Social Security into the American political mainstream, even though none of those ideas will be enacted in the near future, at least at a national level. Furthermore, Sanders’s candidacy has led to the creation of the DNC’s Unity Commission, which will examine potential reforms to the Democratic presidential nomination process for the 2020 presidential election and future presidential elections after 2020. For his advocacy for progressive ideals and his efforts to improve the Democratic Party, Bernie Sanders is the ProgMid Elected Official of the Year for 2016.

ATHLETE OF THE YEAR – LILLY KING

While 2016 was a banner year for the far-right Vladimir Putin regime in Russia, one thing that did not go well for Russia this year was their performance in the Games of the XXXI Olympiad in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Russia sent considerably fewer athletes to Rio than originally planned after the Putin regime was caught running a large-scale doping operation. Even worse for the Russians, they were completely embarrassed by Lilly King of the United States, who, after publicly criticizing Russia’s Yuliya Yefimova for doping, defeated Yefimova in the pool for the gold medal in the women’s 100m breaststroke swimming event. King was also a member of the U.S. team that won gold in the women’s 4 x 100m medley relay in Rio. For continuing the time-honored tradition of Americans defeating Russians in international sport, and for promoting ethical competition in sport, Lilly King is the ProgMid Athlete of the Year for 2016.

PLACE OF THE YEAR – REPUBLIC OF AUSTRIA

While the far-right has gained significant ground worldwide, Austria is, to an extent, an exception. Austrians rejected a far-right presidential candidate not once, but twice, in 2016. In the first of effectively two presidential elections held in Austria in 2016, left-leaning European federalist candidate Alexander Van der Bellen received more votes than far-right fascist candidate Norbert Hofer in a runoff election after no candidate received an outright majority of the vote in the first round of the first election. However, the Constitutional Court of Austria annulled the runoff results because Hofer complained of election irregularities, resulting in the runoff being re-held. Voters gave Van der Bellen an even larger majority in the re-run of the runoff, and Hofer finally conceded. For rejecting a fascist would-be head of state not once, but twice, in the same year, the Republic of Austria is the ProgMid Place of the Year for 2016.

 

CONCEPT OF THE YEAR – POLITICAL RESISTANCE

As I’m sure that virtually everybody who reads this blog knows, Republican Donald Trump won this year’s presidential election despite winning a minority of the national popular vote. Not surprisingly, I’ve seen more than a few people on the left, and even many establishment Democrats, call for a non-violent political resistance to the incoming Trump Administration. With a barrage of right-wing federal legislation likely to be enacted starting early next year, progressives are going to expect resistance from the Democratic minorities in both houses of Congress. Political resistance is the ProgMid Concept of the Year for 2016.

The college football team that could go undefeated and not play in the College Football Playoff

AUTHOR’S NOTE: The College Football Playoff is organized by CFP Administration, LLC. While College Football Playoff games are played under NCAA football rules, the College Football Playoff is not an officially an NCAA-sanctioned national championship.


Tonight, at 6 P.M. Central Time, Western Michigan University (WMU) will face Ohio University (Ohio U; not to be confused with The Ohio State University (Ohio State), which is in a different college athletic conference) for the Mid-American Conference (MAC) college football championship. The game will be played at a neutral site, Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan, and television coverage of the game will be provided by ESPN2.

2016 is looking like it could be the first year that the College Football Playoff (CFP), a four-team postseason playoff incorporating two bowl games as semi-final games and a stand-alone championship game designed to determine an unofficial NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (Division I FBS) national champion, could be very controversial. One of the reasons why the CFP could be controversial in its third playing is that WMU could go undefeated and not be selected for one of the four spots in the CFP, which go to the top four teams in the CFP rankings after conference championships are awarded.

WMU has played an incredible college football season this year. In non-conference play, they defeated two teams from the much more prominent Big Ten Conference (specifically, teams from Northwestern University and University of Illinois), and they’ve won every in-conference and non-conference game that they’ve played this season. However, since Western Michigan plays in the Mid-American Conference, which is not considered to be one of the so-called “Power 5” conferences (Southeastern Conference (SEC), Big Ten Conference (Big Ten), Big XII Conference (Big XII), Pac 12 Conference (Pac 12), and Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC)), they are ranked 17th in the CFP rankings after the 13th week of the college football season. By contrast, the only other undefeated team in Division I FBS football is the University of Alabama (Alabama) team, ranked at the very top of the CFP rankings. While there’s no disputing that Alabama has been the strongest team in top-level college football this year, there are a total of 15 teams with at least one loss ranked above WMU, including one team with four losses (Auburn University). WMU could defeat Ohio U by an obscenely large margin in the MAC title game and go into bowl season undefeated, yet not even come close to getting one of the four CFP spots, with at least three of the four, or, if Alabama loses the SEC title game, all four, teams being selected for the CFP getting playoff spots.

Additionally, it’s very likely that Ohio State, which isn’t playing for the Big Ten title, could get a CFP spot, while both of the teams playing for the Big Ten title on Saturday night (The Penn State University vs. University of Wisconsin; 6 P.M. Central Time on Fox), may not get a CFP spot despite the winner of the championship game between them being the Big Ten champion. Furthermore, if Alabama loses to University of Florida (Florida) in the SEC title game, Florida may not get a CFP spot despite being conference champion, potentially resulting in two or fewer of the CFP teams being conference champions.

If one were to regard the Electoral College as an unfair way to decide a president and a vice president, then the CFP is an even unfairer way to decide a college football national champion. However, it’s the system we have, not the system that I would like to see in place, that is official (in the case of the Electoral College) or generally recognized as determining the champion (in the case of the CFP).

Self-driving cars are a threat to the American way of life

President Obama recently pinned an op-ed for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette praising self-driving cars as “an emerging reality with the potential to transform the way we live”.

Personally, I believe that self-driving cars are a grave threat to the American way of life.

Thousands of Americans are employed as taxi drivers, pizza deliverers, and in other similar professions. If self-driving cars were to become the norm, you can kiss thousands of American jobs, many of which are among the few American jobs nowadays that do not require a college degree, goodbye. Their jobs would be effectively replaced by computers manufactured in China or other foreign countries.

Also, who would want to watch a NASCAR race in which actual race car drivers are replaced by computer-driven cars? NASCAR would no longer be an actual sport if computers replaced drivers; instead, it would become effectively as scripted as WWE, but without the soap opera-esque storylines to keep the audience engaged. There’s a lot more entertainment watching real race car drivers compete against each other than computers competing against each other.

Another instance where self-driving vehicles are a threat to the American way of life is the all-American family farm. If tractors, combines, and other motorized farm implements are replaced with computer-driven machines, then it would be a lot easier for large agribusiness corporations like Bayer (which recently acquired Monsanto) to sweep in and take over family farms across the country.

While Obama has cited elderly people and disabled people (although I’m not elderly (I’m 26 years of age), I have Asperger’s syndrome, and I don’t drive) as two groups of people that might benefit from self-driving cars, the sobering reality is that there’s a lot more people who would be negatively impacted than those who would be positively impacted by self-driving vehicles. In fact, many of those who could benefit from self-driving cars don’t have cell phones that would be needed for them to get a ride in a self-driving car, either for cost reasons (most elderly and disabled people are very poor), or the nature of their disability makes it virtually impossible for them to operate a cell phone.

How NBC can make its future Olympic coverage better, instead of bashing millennials

During American television coverage of the Games of the XXXI Olympiad in Rio de Janiero, Brazil, NBC and its affiliated cable networks (particularly NBC itself) produced an awful broadcast of the most significant international multi-sport event in the world. Even though Rio is only two hours ahead of U.S. Central Daylight Time during the month of August, the opening and closing ceremonies were broadcast on a tape delay (and heavily edited to remove some portions of both ceremonies), many events, even some popular events with popular athletes, were broadcast on a tape delay, if not pre-empted completely, many sports (such as rugby sevens and wrestling) did not have a single medal-earning event broadcast on over-the-air television, and, in some instances, NBC announcers acted in a sexist manner when talking about female athletes (notable examples of this include NBC swimming announcer Dan Hicks crediting the husband of the swimmer for a female Hungarian swimmer winning gold in the women’s 400m individual medley and one of the Golf Channel announcers referring to female American golfer Stacy Lewis as “grumpy”). Long story short, NBC did nearly everything to alienate millennials and feminists during the Olympics.

Instead of outlining plans to improve NBC’s coverage to adapt to modern society (many Americans found it easier to get Olympic results via Twitter and other social media websites than watching actual television coverage of the Games; in fact, #Rio2016 is still a trending hashtag on Twitter, even more than a week after the closing ceremony), NBC/Comcast executives are simply blaming millennials for the Olympic coverage’s low ratings.

While I enjoyed watching the Olympics this year, here are some of my complaints about the Olympic coverage on NBC and its affiliated cable networks (I’m not considering factors that are completely out of NBC’s control, such as weather delays/event postponements and the quality of the world feeds that Olympic Broadcast Services (OBS) provides to each country’s Olympic broadcast rights-holder):

Too much volleyball on network television!

If it weren’t for NBC providing quite a bit of time covering sports like track and field and swimming and NBC’s affiliated cable channels airing many other sports, American television viewers would think that the Summer Olympics were nothing more than a couple of indoor and beach volleyball tournaments, since volleyball (both indoor and beach), compromised a large amount of NBC’s over-the-air coverage of the games. The Olympics should be treated as the multi-sport event that it is, not as a glorified tournament for a single sport.

Too few medal events on network television!

In a surprisingly large number of Olympic sports that were part of the 2016 summer program, not a single medal-earning event aired on the over-the-air NBC network. Among the sports that were, to my knowledge, not seen on American English-language over-the-air television include tennis (although cable channel Bravo acted as a de facto Olympic tennis channel during the Games), rugby sevens (which bounced around between several different cable channels to the point of confusing American rugby fans), judo, taekwondo (I don’t recall any English-language television broadcast of taekwondo in the U.S. during the games), wrestling, boxing, badminton, table tennis, modern pentathlon, soccer (probably the most popular Olympic sport not broadcast over-the-air in the U.S.) and sailing (I also don’t recall any English-language television broadcast of sailing in the U.S. during the games).

Too much tape-delaying!

Tape-delaying the opening and closing ceremonies is a slap to the face to American television viewers. Also, even some of the more popular Olympic sports here in the U.S., such as gymnastics and diving, got the ol’ Memorex treatment from NBC.

NBC’s imperialist attitude towards the Games

NBC thinks that, because they spent a bunch of money to secure U.S. Olympic broadcasting rights until the Games of the XXXV Olympiad of 2032 (host city to be determined), they can single-handedly control every single thing the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the organizers of a particular Olympic Games does. A notable example of this was when NBC tried to bully the Rio Olympic organizers into conducing the Parade of Nations (which occurs during the opening ceremony) with the countries entering in English alphabetical order, despite the fact that the host country, Brazil, is a predominantly Portuguese-speaking country (the Portuguese-language name for the United States begins with the letter “E”, not the letter “U” like it does in English), and English is not a commonly-spoken language in Brazil. The Olympic organizers rejected that idea almost immediately, and NBC insulted American viewers by claiming that many American viewers simply change the channel or turn off the TV once the U.S. Olympic team enters the site of the opening ceremony during the Parade of Nations.

Here’s some of my suggestions to NBC for how to improve their Olympic coverage:

Air as many medal-earning events on the NBC over-the-air network either live in their entirety, live-but-joined in progress, or on as short of a tape delay as practically possible

Instead of structuring the NBC over-the-air Olympic broadcast schedule around the schedules of local NBC affiliates or to avoid airing Olympic events in the U.S. overnight hours, NBC should schedule 15 straight hours of Olympic coverage on most days in a time block corresponding to an 8 A.M. to 11 P.M. time block in the host city’s local time. Exceptions to this are any pre-opening ceremony prelims (which would be aired on NBCSN), and the days of the opening and closing ceremonies (opening and closing ceremonies would be aired live on NBC, regardless of time of day; during day of closing ceremony, coverage of the final medal-earning events would run until the conclusion of final medal event). If NBC were to use this broadcast pattern for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, the NBC live broadcast window would run from 5 P.M. on one day to 8 A.M. the next day U.S. Central Standard Time. This would allow 9 hours per day for NBC affiliates to air a 30-minute local newscast, a 30-minute NBC network newscast, FCC-mandated educational programming (3 hours-per-week mandate), and three hours of tape-delayed NBC Olympic highlights. Assuming that the children’s programming is aired in a late-morning slot in 90-minute blocks on both weekend days, that would leave no fewer than four and a half hours for affiliates to air syndicated programming and/or additional local newscasts (six hours on weekdays). Airing the FCC-mandated educational programming in an approved time slot (sometime between 7 A.M. and 10 P.M.) would be a challenge if an American host city or another country that was one hour ahead of part of the United States, and would probably require the FCC and/or Congress to grant every NBC affiliate in the country a temporary waiver to the E/I rule that would only apply during the Olympics. In the absence of such a waiver, scheduling either a single 13 1/2-hour live block of two days of the week, a single 14-hour live block on three days of the week, or adopting a split time block arrangement of some kind, with educational programming inserted between blocks of network Olympic coverage.

Most importantly, gold medal-earning events would be prioritized, regardless of sport, and at least one gold medal-earning event in every Olympic sport and discipline contested in a particular year would be televised on over-the-air television. Secondary priority would be given to events that are not gold medal-earning events, but events where silver and/or bronze medals are at stake. No preliminary events would air on over-the-air television.

Prioritize actual sporting events over interviews, documentary-style feature segments, etc.

Leave the interviews and documentary-style feature segments to either the over-the-air highlights show or, if filler material between medal events is needed, during the 15-hour over-the-air live block between medal events. Also, interviews and feature segments should be no more than 5 minutes in length.

Use NBCSN to air any medal events that can’t be aired on NBC

NBC’s primary cable television outlet for sports broadcasting is, indisputably, NBCSN, so, if there’s Olympic events being played, NBCSN should be on-air and, if practically possible, live with either a medal-earning event that NBC is unable to air or a featured preliminary event. NBCSN is a cable channel, not an over-the-air channel, so it isn’t bound by FCC regulations on educational programming.

CNBC, USA, and, if needed, MSNBC, Bravo, and Golf Channel can serve as dedicated channels for some of the more popular Olympic sports

In recent Summer Olympiads, Bravo has served as a de facto Olympic tennis channel and Golf Channel aired the 2016 Olympic golf events in their entirety. MSNBC could serve as a dedicated Olympic gymnastics channel during the Summer Olympics, CNBC could serve as a dedicated track-and-field channel during the Summer Olympics and a dedicated ice hockey channel during the Winter Olympics, and USA could serve as a dedicated swimming channel during the Summer Olympics and a dedicated curling channel during the Winter Olympics. Any non-Olympic sporting events (such as NASCAR and English Premier League soccer) could be aired on The Weather Channel commercial-free (although 2-to-3-minute weather updates by The Weather Channel’s on-air personnel would be inserted where commercials ordinarily would be inserted).

Give each sport at least one dedicated cable channel during the Olympics, so that those with a cable or satellite television package that includes NBCSN and a willing cable or satellite provider would be able to watch the Olympics a la carte, with every event televised live and in its entirety

NBC offers cable and satellite providers stand-alone Olympic soccer and basketball channels during the Summer Olympics, so why not do so for every other Summer Olympic sport and every Winter Olympic sport during the Games? One channel could be devoted to ceremonies (opening ceremony, closing ceremony, medal ceremonies, gymnastics gala in the summer, and figure skating gala in the winter), and each Olympic sport and discipline contested in a particular season would get as many channels dedicated to it as needed in order to air every single Olympic event live and in its entirety, even if there’s delays or postponements forcing schedule changes and/or it means effectively simulcasting NBC or an affiliated cable channel

Limit commercials to no more than four minutes per hour

If CBS can air 56 minutes of golf per hour during The Masters, than NBC and its affiliated broadcasting platforms should be able to air 56 minutes of sporting competition per hour for a much larger sporting event.

Respect the Olympics and the athletes who participate in it

Even if NBC were to air only thirty minutes of black-and-white film coverage of a future Summer or Winter Games roughly 18 months after the conclusion of the Games, they should at least have their on-air personnel respect the Games and the athletes who participate in the Games, who come from many different countries and backgrounds.

 

San Jose Mercury News can’t say the name Simone Manuel

Make no mistake about it, Simone Manuel became the first black American woman to win an individual gold medal in the sport of swimming when she won the women’s 100 meter (109.3613 yard) freestyle swimming event at the Games of the XXXI Olympiad in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. There were actually two gold medalists in the event, as Manuel tied Canadian Penny Oleksiak for the gold medal position. In Olympic swimming, a tie occurs when two or more swimmers post the same time, measured to hundredths of a second. When a tie occurs in Olympic swimming for a medal position, all tied competitors receive a medal of the same color (gold for a tie for first, silver for a tie for second, and bronze for a tie for third).

However, The Mercury News, a newspaper covering the San Jose, California area, used this headline to document Manuel’s historic victory:

Not only is that headline factually incorrect, it’s racist and sexist. First off, Manuel and Michael Phelps never shared an Olympic podium, as men and women compete in swimming events. In fact, the only Olympic sport (summer or winter) in which there are not separate competitions for men and women is equestrian (although a few Olympic sports, such as tennis (summer) and curling (winter, starting in 2018) have events featuring mixed-gender teams competing against each other, and modern pentathlon, of which equestrian is one of the five component sports, has separate men’s and women’s competitions). Secondly, The Mercury News was unwilling to use the name of a black woman who won the event in its headline, but had no problem using the name of a white man who wasn’t eligible to compete in the event in its headline.

The corporate media isn’t willing to say any part of her name, but I am more than willing to say the full name of my favorite Olympic champion of the Games of the XXXI Olympiad so far: Simone Ashley Manuel.

Hillary goes for campaign ad gold during the Olympics

While the Olympics are supposed to be an apolitical sporting event, the truth of the matter is that politics has often been at the forefront of the Olympics. While political campaigning isn’t an Olympic sport (and, in my opinion, shouldn’t be, since politics is not an athletic competition), Hillary Clinton is running a lot of television ads during American television coverage of the Games of the XXXI Olympiad in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Most of the Hillary ads that I’ve seen during Olympic coverage have been on either NBC or NBCSN (although I’ve seen Hillary ads on CNBC as well during the Olympics), and Hillary’s ads have aired during commercial breaks of Olympic programming blocks without any real regard to what sports are being aired during the programming blocks in question. I’ve seen Hillary ads during Olympic programming blocks at many different times of day and have included swimming, gymnastics, rugby, fencing, cycling, water polo, diving, table tennis, golf, and beach volleyball, just to name a few sports. Some sports, such as track & field and golf, are scheduled for later in the Games. All of the national political ad buys have been from the official Hillary campaign committee; I have yet to see an ad from a pro-Hillary/anti-Trump political action committee (PAC), the Donald Trump presidential campaign, or a pro-Trump/anti-Hillary political action committee.

Most of the ads that Hillary is running during the Olympics are aimed at blue-collar progressives. The positive ad that Hillary most frequently uses is an ad detailing her plan to reign in greed on Wall Street. The negative ad that Hillary most frequently uses is an ad featuring a clip from the David Letterman-era CBS Late Show attacking Trump over the Trump line of clothing being manufactured in foreign countries where workers earn, on average, much lower wages than workers in the United States.

In addition to the national Hillary ad buys, my local NBC affiliate (WAND-TV) has aired pro-Tammy Duckworth (from Duckworth’s official campaign committee) and anti-Tammy Duckworth (from a Republican political action committee of some kind) ads, but those ad buys were sold by the local affiliate because Duckworth is running for U.S. Senate here in Illinois. Duckworth’s ads air mainly, but not exclusively, in the NBC primetime Olympic programming block on my local NBC affiliate.

The first Olympic broadcast on U.S. television lasted only 28 minutes

AUTHOR’S NOTE #1: This blog post contains a video that is in the public domain due to said video being an official work of the United States federal government.

AUTHOR’S NOTE #2: For the purposes of this blog post, “Games of the Olympiad” refer to the Summer Olympics.


Starting Wednesday, August 3 at 9:30 A.M. CDT (10:30 A.M. EDT), NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) will air a round-robin stage women’s soccer match between Sweden and South Africa in the women’s soccer tournament at the Games of the XXXI Olympiad in Rio de Janiero, Brazil. NBCSN’s broadcast of the first event of this year’s Olympics kicks off a whopping 6,755 hours of combined television and internet livestream coverage (schedule here) across several broadcast and cable/satellite networks that are part of the Comcast-owned NBCUniversal media conglomerate and the NBC Olympics website. Since Rio is only two hours ahead of U.S. Central Daylight Time during the month of August (due to Rio being south of the equator, Rio observes daylight savings time from mid-October to mid-February, not in August), much, but not all, of NBC’s Olympic coverage in 2016 will air live. NBC Olympic television coverage will air in English on NBC, NBCSN, CNBC, MSNBC, USA, Bravo, Golf Channel, NBC Olympic 4K, NBC Olympic Soccer Channel, and NBC Olympic Basketball Channel, and in Spanish on Univision and NBC Universo.

However, NBCUniversal’s extensive coverage of the 2016 Summer Olympics pales in comparison to the minimal U.S. television coverage that the 1952 Summer Olympics received. However, what little television coverage that American viewers saw of the Helsinki Olympics of 1952 was, to my knowledge, the very first time the Olympics was broadcast on American television in any form.

The first time the Olympic Games were broadcast on American television was a 28 minute broadcast (not counting any commercials that may have aired on the television broadcast) of a documentary about the Games of the XV Olympiad in Helsinki, Finland in 1952, which officially opened on July 19, 1952 and officially closed on August 3 of the same year. Back then, there was no high-definition coverage, there was no digital television coverage, there was no color television coverage, there was no live coverage of the Games, there was no Spanish-language coverage, there was no coverage of Olympic events during the Games, and there wasn’t even television coverage of the Games during the year in which they were held! Instead, American television viewers saw a documentary, produced by the U.S. Army as part of the television documentary series The Big Picture, circa early 1954 (exact air date is lost to time, although the episode in question was the fifth episode following a Christmas-themed episode dated 1953), approximately one and a half years after the closing ceremony of the Helsinki Olympics! The production was a black-and-white documentary, with English-language narration provided by members of the U.S. Army Signal Corps (USASC), of highlights of the Helsinki Olympics. The highlights focused mainly on members of the U.S. Armed Forces who were competing for Team USA in the Helsinki Olympics.

According to Central Illinois television historian and WCCU-TV weather anchor Doug Quick, The Big Picture was aired across the ABC network, although some broadcast stations that either were affiliated with other networks or were independent broadcast stations aired the program as a syndicated program as well. It’s not clear which stations, or even how many stations, aired episode TV-250 of The Big Picture, which is the episode containing the documentary about the Helsinki Olympics.

You can watch the full documentary of the Games of the XV Olympiad here:

Did the USGA learn from its video review mistake from last month?

AUTHOR’S NOTE #1: Since the U.S. Women’s Open golf championship is one of many women’s golf tournaments used to determine qualification for the women’s golf tournament at the Games of the XXXI Olympiad in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, International Olympic Committee (IOC) country codes for players in the U.S. Women’s Open are noted in parenthesis following the first mention of their full names below the divider.

AUTHOR’S NOTE #2: Anna Nordqvist’s last name is pronounced nord-KWIST


On the second of three holes played in yesterday’s three-hole aggregate playoff for the U.S. Women’s Open golf championship at CordeValle golf course in California (the playoff used holes 16, 17, and 18, in that order), Anna Norqvist (SWE) touched sand while addressing her ball, which was at rest and located in a bunker. Normally, when a player illegally grounds his/her club in a bunker or water hazard in a golf event, he/she will call a penalty on himself/herself. However, in Nordqvist’s case, it was not visibly obvious to her that she had illegally grounded her club in the bunker, and, in fact, only a FOX camera showing a close-up of Nordqvist’s address of the ball showed that Nordqvist had, in fact, touched sand while addressing her ball in a bunker. The USGA conducted a video review, and, after both players in the playoff had started playing the final hole of the playoff, they were both notified of the penalty assessed to Nordqvist for breach of Rule 13-4, which prohibits a player from, when his/her ball is at rest in a bunker or water hazard, touching water, sand, the ground, or loose impediments with the club, except when striking the ball itself. The penalty for breach of Rule 13-4 during stroke play, which was used for all four rounds of regulation and the three-hole aggregate playoff, is two strokes on the hole which the breach of the rule occurred. Brittany Lang (USA) went on to win the U.S. Women’s Open by three playoff strokes; had Nordqvist not been assessed a penalty, Lang would have still won, but only by one playoff stroke.

Here’s the video of Nordqvist grounding her club in the bunker:

I believe that the U.S. Golf Association (USGA), which sanctions the U.S. Women’s Open golf championship and some other golf tournaments, including the U.S. Open golf championship, did a far better job of handling the video review in regards to the Nordqvist grounded club situation in the U.S. Women’s Open than the Dustin Johnson moved ball situation that occurred during the final round of regulation in the U.S. Open, which is also sanctioned by the USGA. In that scenario, Johnson’s ball moved on the 5th green at Oakmont County Club in Pennsylvania, and he was initially given no penalty, since a rules official on-course ruled that he had not caused his ball to move. However, Johnson was notified several holes later that his score on the 5th hole was under video review, and it was after his round that he was notified that he had incurred a one-stroke penalty for causing his ball to move on the green without actually taking a stroke. This caused nearly everybody with an interest in golf to criticize the USGA for their handling of the Dustin Johnson moved ball scenario, and rightfully so, since Johnson was not notified of the penalty until after he had completed his round, even though the moved ball situation occurred less than halfway through his round.

If you were to ask me whether or not the USGA has learned from its video review mistake, the short answer would be yes.

Katrina Shankland knows more about the NFL’s player salary structure than Scott Walker does

AUTHOR’S NOTE: The author of the blog post is a New England Patriots fan who lives in Illinois, and Wisconsin State Rep. Katrina Shankland (D-Stevens Point) is, like the vast majority of Wisconsinites, a Green Bay Packers fan. Anyways, the Chicago Bears are a bunch of losers.


At a recent private, invite-only “listening session”, Republican Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, while claiming that the NFL’s free agency system should be a model for paying public school teachers, demonstrated that he has no knowledge of how the NFL’s player salary structure works. Here’s what Walker said:

If the Green Bay Packers pay people to perform and if they perform well on their team, (the Packers) pay them to do that…They don’t pay them for how many years they’ve been on the football team. They pay them whether or not they help (the Packers) win football games.

Wisconsin State Rep. Katrina Shankland (D-Stevens Point), the Assistant Minority Leader of the Wisconsin State Assembly, issued this brilliant response to Walker’s absurd claims about the NFL player salary structure and absurd comparison between NFL player salaries and Wisconsin public school teacher salaries. I encourage everyone who is reading this blog post to read Shankland’s statement in full, but I’ll summarize three points that Shankland made in her statement:

  • NFL teams often have a total player payroll that is well under the league’s salary cap, whereas public school districts in Wisconsin are barely able to make payroll thanks to Walker’s funding cuts to public K-12 schools in Wisconsin
  • NFL players have a strong labor union representing them, whereas Walker and his Republican allies severely weakened Wisconsin public school teachers’ unions by restricting collective bargaining rights.
  • For the third point, I’ll directly quote Shankland: “…the NFL does pay their athletes regardless of whether or not they win games. Ask the Chicago Bears about this.”

For those of you who are wondering, the Chicago Bears compiled a record of 6 wins and 10 losses, and failed to make the playoffs, in the 2015 NFL season. Oh, and NFL players do not lose a penny of their base salary if their team loses a game.

The salary and unionization structure of NFL players and that of public school teachers in Wisconsin are not identical by any rational person’s imagination. I applaud Katrina Shankland for having a far better knowledge of the NFL player salary structure than Scott Walker does.