Category: sports

My Favorite Olympics Story

As we get ready for the Olympics to start tonight (well, technically they were already  on last night, which was this morning in South Korea, which means it was still today, right?), I’m pumped for another two weeks of thrills and chills. This is also the second winter Olympics I’ve watched since I ditched satellite. Having some experience with watching the Olympics online, I can that for a while, it left much to be desired.

NBC would stream things, but they wouldn’t stream everything, and there’s a BIG difference between streaming the live feed of an event and streaming it with NBC commentators. Yes, sometimes those commentators really irritate you, but when you’re watching a sport you don’t know a ton about, it’s difficult to tell when someone’s doing well if you don’t have someone there to . . . tell you that. So often I would just skip an event instead of watching it with the live feed.

These days, I believe they’re planning on doing a better job of that. (Though judging by the commercials on the app last night, they haven’t gotten around the “same commercials all the time” problem, though it’s a bit better. Why they can’t just have the internet run the same commercials as the TV is beyond me.)

Still, I discovered that often NBC would tap into some pool commentators. I have no idea who they were with. They were always British, so I kind of assumed the BBC, but I don’t really know that. The commentating was okay, and not slanted to any one nation, so I took what I could get.

However . . . four years ago, I was watching figure skating. The long performance, as I recall, so it was for medals. And I was watching it with the British commentators. From what I knew, there were supposed to be something like 8 or 12 people competing, but the commentators seemed convinced it was only 4. They really got into it, describing how it was a race to the end with these final four skaters, and after they were done, they congratulated the skaters who were in first, second, and third. They thanked everyone for watching, as the crew came out to fix the ice.

I kept watching, still confused, and still convinced there was more skating to come.

And the mic stayed hot. And a muffled British voice could be heard saying, “What do you mean eight more?”

Once the ice was fixed, the commentators came back on and did commentated for the other eight skaters. Didn’t miss a beat. Didn’t apologize for getting things wrong. Just pretended it had never happened.

And you know what? I didn’t mind at all. It was funny. I laughed. But I was there to watch figure skating, and I didn’t mind them screwing things up.

The moral? Sometimes you will do something totally idiotic, and you’ll feel like an idiot, but if you just keep going, you might be surprised how little everyone else minds. We’re the hero in our own stories, but we’re just extras in most everybody else’s. That can be depressing at times, I suppose, but when you’ve just made a big blunder? It can be great to keep it in mind.

Happy Olympics, everybody. Go USA! And Slovakia! And Germany! And I don’t really mind if some Czechs do well, either.


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Watching the Mayweather/McGregor Fight

I had the chance to watch the Mayweather/McGregor fight on Saturday. I don’t typically watch much boxing or MMA, but this was a fight that had gotten so much hype, I decided to give it a shot. I enjoy watching boxing matches, and I still remember watching the Bite Fight back when I was in high school, when Mike Tyson bit Holyfield’s ear off. (Okay, just a piece of his ear, but still.) Tomas wanted to come watch as well, so why not?

Finding out when exactly the fight was going to start was tricky. The best I’d been able to find was 9pm on Saturday. Tomas and I had been up since 5:30am that morning, but I thought 9pm wasn’t too late to watch. We’d be done by 10pm or so at the latest, and then home by 10:15.

At 9pm, we discovered there would be three boxing matches that happened before the main event. I faced a choice: head home and just read up on the fight later, or hang around. Since we were already there, and having a good time, we hung around. How late could it really go? I also didn’t think it would be much of a fight. I figured Mayweather would overwhelm McGregor easily, and that would be that.

The fight started at midnight. (Of the three lead-in fights, only one was really worth watching, in my opinion. The first was drawn out. The second was quite exciting. The third was anticlimactic.) It ended at 1am. So I was quite tired the next day at church. However, I had a really good time in spite of the late start. We were watching with people who were *really into* the match, and that always makes for a more fun environment. There were great snacks, and some fun conversations ahead of the fight. And the fight actually turned into something worth watching.

Back when I watched Bite Fight, it was pretty anticlimactic. We tuned in, and i about twenty minutes, it was over due to a DQ. Sure, it makes for a good story years later, but I remember being disappointed at the time. I wanted Rocky vs. Clubber Lang. I got Hannibal Lecter instead.

This one lived up to the hype, I felt. It went 10 rounds, and the early rounds looked quite good for McGregor. In the end, Mayweather had a great approach. (He pegged McGregor as not being prepared for a long match, since those don’t occur in MMA. He turned out to be right.) Some objected to the fight being called before McGregor was on the mat, but I felt like it was called at a good point. By then, the guy didn’t have his hands up to defend himself. He wasn’t throwing any counter punches. He was basically a semi-mobile punching bag.

He was done.

I’m still yawning from some sleep deprivation, but the experience delivered what I hoped. (I also realized I haven’t shown my kids any of the Rocky movies. I fail as a father.) Tomas had a good time, as well. If it hadn’t been so late, it would have been easily a great decision to go. As it was, I’d still give it an 8/10 for the experience. Would do it again.

A Patriotic Win in Patriots’ Country

I realize the majority of the football world hates the Patriots. And I’m still primarily an Eagles fan, but I’ve been willing to adopt the Patriots as a secondary team. (This isn’t the Cowboys, people.) For one thing, I’m already a Yankee fan in Red Sox nation. I’m not giving an inch on that ground, but this is an NFC/AFC split. I can afford to show some love for the home team. (Plus, I think Tomas will have an easier time loving the home team if his dad is pro-Patriot. I’m raising him as a Yankee fan in Red Sox nation. It’s good to make some concessions now and then so he doesn’t have an impossible time with his friends at school.)

(And yes, I find it amusing that the universe has contrived to make it possible for me to be a fan of both the Yankees and the Patriots. What can I say? Maybe I just tend to have a soft spot for the teams that are generally hated. But I’m not becoming a Lakers fan. Period.)

Anyway. So last night the fam and I went to a Superbowl party. These were serious Patriots fans. There were Patriots hats. Shirts. Pants. Socks. For all I know, Patriots underwear was in there somewhere. I didn’t check. But this was a 100%, unapologetic bastion of Patriots’ strength.

The feelings of my family kind of ranged the spectrum. I was looking forward to the game, as always. Denisa loves a few sports, but mainly just the Olympics. Tomas was excited for the game, the food, and the commercials. DC was . . . less than enthused, but looking forward to the food. MC was just happy to be going someplace new.

When I showed up, I asked everyone what they wanted out of the game. It was pretty much universal: a blowout. I said I wanted a close game where the Patriots won. “Ideally,” I said, “I’d like another game like the Seahawks/Patriots game a few years ago. Something we can remember for years to come.” They agreed that was a great game, but they said that game had shaved years off their lives. They’d rather be happy throughout the whole game.

I stuck to my guns. Close games are just so much more fun to win.

The game begins, and the food flows like queso. We consumed so many calories, I think I could have hooked the house generator up to my arteries and run the place for a few hours. (Seriously. I felt so sick when I went to bed. When you go from a pretty tight diet with little sugar and then ambush your body with muddy buddies, queso, chips, guacamole, root beer, pulled pork, coleslaw, baked beans, chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter balls, ice cream, and chocolate sauce in mass quantities . . . you’re yearning for a burning. I skipped breakfast this morning. Just too stuffed. Gained 2.2 pounds yesterday.)

But those of you who watched the game can guess what the spirit in the party was like after that first half. Lady Gaga’s show had plenty of energy, but the mood in the room was broody. Worried. “Come on guys,” I said. “They just need a good stop. They’re only down by 3 scores. They have a whole half to come back.”

I have plenty of experience with these self pep talks. I’m a BYU fan, remember?

But then the third quarter happened, and things looked even worse. 28-3? 25 points down?!? The biggest Superbowl comeback ever was 10 points. Even when the Patriots managed to score a touchdown, they couldn’t make the extra point. It just seemed like One of Those Nights. They had been doomed from the beginning. Out played. Out coached. Out executed. They try for an onside kick. They fail. Ugh.

That fourth quarter is going to stay with me for a long time to come. Even as an adoptive fan, it was exciting. In a situation like that, you want to believe it’s possible, but you’re still in containment mode. You don’t want to let yourself get your hopes up. The Patriots score another field goal. Whoopity doo. They’re still down 16 points with 9:44 to go. Sure, they’re technically within 2 touchdowns, if they managed to get the 2 point conversion both times. The way they’ve been playing, that’s just not going to happen.

And then they stop the Falcons and manage to get a touchdown. Better yet, they get the 2 points. Down 8 points with 5:56 to go. And still you’re fighting to keep your head on your shoulders. A single field goal puts this game away. Matt Ryan makes a 39 yard pass on the first play of the Falcons’ drive. 2 plays later, it’s a 27 yard completion. They’re on the Patriot’s 22 yard line, for crying out loud! They could just kick a field goal right this second and end the game!

We interrupt this game recap for a quick life lesson. If you’re ever in a situation where you can win a game outright, do it. Don’t try to win style points. Get the W and move on. Yes I suppose they could have missed the field goal. It would have been a 39 yard attempt. Matt Bryant is their place kicker. He makes 85.6% of the field goals he attempts. At 30-39 yards, he makes 90.7% of them. Sure, I guess you could argue that if you go for it right that second, and he misses, then the world will think you were a bonehead, especially when you’d just had such success with long passes. But they didn’t go for it. Instead, Ryan got sacked for a 12 yard loss, followed the next play by a holding penalty on Atlanta. Suddenly they’re out of field goal range completely. Remember: minutes before, when they’d started the drive on their 10 yard line, they’d had one goal: get into field goal range and kick it through the uprights. They’d checked off the first item on that list. If it had been 4th and 3 on the Patriots’ 22 yard line, the game would have been over with a Falcons’ win. But it wasn’t. It was 1st and 10 on the Patriots’ 22 yard line, and that ended up making a huge difference. They went for a touchdown instead of simple victory.

Anyway. At that point, it felt like a totally different game. The Patriots were in it to win it. They were moving the ball at will. But they still needed the touchdown and the 2 point conversion, and you still couldn’t help but doubt. The whole room erupted when they got the touchdown, and we went crazy with that conversion.

You can only imagine what happened when the Patriots scored the winning touchdown in overtime. MC was running around the room yelling “Did we get a touch? Did we get a touch? We wonned! We wonned! Go BYU!” (I’ve trained her well.) There was a resounding roar from the entire room. High fives. Chest bumps. Tears. Tomas declaring himself to be a Patriots fan from now on. It was everything you’d want a victory to be. We even set off fireworks after it all.

And so I ask you. Which would you rather watch? A complete blow out where your team dominates from start to finish, or a game where your team makes the biggest comeback in Superbowl history, in the only Superbowl game to go to overtime?

I’ll take the nail biter, every time.

World Series: Time for the Radio

Like many people, I wanted to tune into the World Series last night to see all the action. The trick was, I’m a cord cutter, and no amount of online acrobatics was getting me any closer to actually viewing the game. I have a fair bit of experience making that happen, so it was frustrating to not be able to do it.

The solution was simple: tune into the radio. The trick was reminding myself that could be done. (Duh.) So once I had that ironed out, I was able to lie there in bed, experiencing the game the same way people have been doing it for years.

I’ve listened to sports radio quite a bit over my life, actually. There have been plenty of BYU games that I could only listen to that way, and back when I was reading gas meters in college, I’d listen to some baseball to pass the time. Baseball translates really well to radio, which is probably one reason the sport was so popular for so long. It’s easy to understand and follow from description alone.

Confession time: my most memorable radio sports experience happened in my first city on my mission: Schwarzenberg, Germany. Missionaries aren’t supposed to watch sports or television, and I’d been out in the country for five months or so. But at the time I was a big Utah Jazz fan, and they’d finally made the finals, and I discovered if I sat in the kitchen of my apartment and angled the radio just right, I could pick up the broadcast of the games from a military station miles away . . .

So yeah. I broke down and broke the rules. It’s probably my fault the Jazz lost. But it’s not like I was doing that instead of missionary work. I set my alarm and got up in the middle of the night to listen. I still remember being huddled next to the radio, listening to it quietly. (Didn’t want my companion to wake up.)

Listening to the Cubs win last night gave me flashbacks to that experience. (I was in bed, listening on my iPhone as quiet as it would go. Didn’t want to wake up Denisa.)

Some things change. Some things stay the same.

Though I wasn’t breaking any rules last night, at least.

Go Cubs!


BYU, Independence, and Its Season So Far

No one can say BYU hasn’t had an interesting season so far. 4 losses by a combined 8 points. If you need a team to go out there and have a really close game with just about anyone in the country, call us up. If you’re looking for that team to actually win the game, however . . .

You might want to call someone else.

That said, when I take a look back at the season, 8 games in, I can’t be too disappointed. (Well, I can. But I can try not to be, okay?) A few takeaways:

  • Our starting quarterback is definitely still a few steps slow from all his injuries over the year. Taysom just isn’t quite what he was, and his accuracy has left some to be desired too. (Not all of it is on Taysom. Many times he gets the ball to the receivers, and they just drop it.) Why haven’t they turned to Tanner? I assume because Taysom’s mobility (even limited somewhat) adds one extra wrinkle. A wrinkle that our offense desperately needs. I really don’t think they would have stuck with Taysom out of loyalty.
  • In last night’s game (a game we had no business being within 1 point of winning, let’s be clear), we still managed to hang in there somehow, and that was without our star running back. Put Williams in, and you might well have a different outcome.
  • I know a lot has been said about independence and the Big 12. My take? The Big 12 just doesn’t seem long for this world. They’re too disorganized and too full of squabbling for them to last. I don’t know if super conferences will pick BYU up when they form. I’d like to think so, but who knows. What I do know is that as a Cougar fan living in Maine, I’ve loved independence. The team comes close enough for me to go see them in person now and then. I can watch all the games live (and on replay even). We get the exposure we really wanted. (Though these 10:15 games are killing me. Killing me!)
  • Really, the only thing I’d like to see change would be to somehow carve out a bowl agreement where we get to go to a nicer bowl based on performance. That would be the one thing we’d need to be able to keep playing for a goal as the season goes on. With no conference championship or bowl to play for, it can feel like as soon as we have one loss, what’s the point of playing anymore.
  • That said, week after week this year, we’ve had a series of games that have been thrilling to watch against opponents who aren’t Powderpuff U. Sure, it would be great to be winning more of them, but I can’t find fault with the schedule. (Though I don’t ever need to think about going to home games, so that takes away a complaint from me that I know fans in Utah have.)
  • This is the first year with a new coaching staff and a new offensive and defensive scheme. I know heading into the season all the fans were dreaming of having it all, but this kind of thing takes time. To go 4-4 with our schedule while making all those changes at once? I think that’s commendable, personally. I have great hopes for the future.
  • I like a coach who believes in his team and has confidence. Going for it on 4th and 19 from 9 yards into our end zone? Maybe a bit much, yes? Though I guess it all worked out for them, so what do I know?

Anyway. Now we get a bye week and we finally start playing a bit smoother of a schedule. I’m hoping our team can get healed up and that we can start getting good practice for our coming years. I think BYU’s future is bright, and that makes me very happy.

Go Cougars!

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