So Many Questions

Editors' Note: Paul will be hosting a live online discussion today at 1 p.m.

-- Why are the Chinese so good in the sports that involve judging, like diving and gymnastics? Could NBC explain just a little about the cultural values, team-selection methods, training, coaching and mental preparation that leads to China's superiority in these sports?

-- How come the U.S. men's gymnastics team is so much more exuberant, personable and just plain more fun to watch than our grim, glum and practically Soviet-like women's team?

-- Do only American athletes have parents watching in the stands? Don't the other guys' moms and dads cheer for them, too?

-- Why is it acceptable for a 14-year-old boy (Great Britain's Thomas Daley) to compete in the synchronized diving competition but unacceptable for a 14-year-old girl (allegedly, several members of the Chinese women's gymnastics team) to compete in gymnastics?

-- Why do they play only American pop and classic rock ("Walk This Way," "Mony Mony," "My Sharona," etc.) between serves at the beach volleyball stadium? Isn't this an international event? And haven't they invented any new songs since 1979?

-- Is that Bob Costas's real hair color? Or does high-definition TV just make it look like that?

-- Did Al Trautwig mention that the Chinese men's gymnastics team was facing a lot of pressure to win?

-- Who knew that ExxonMobil had our back on so many vexing problems (malaria, education, global warming, etc.)? A suggestion for you, Exxon: Could you do something about the price of gas?

-- Why are so many world records being set in swimming? Yeah, yeah, Speedo's LZR Racer swimsuits, but how do you explain five -- five! -- teams beating the world record in the men's 4x100-meter relay? World records are rarely broken in track. Why is it almost routine in swimming?

-- Would NBC show women's beach volleyball in primetime if it weren't for the, um, uniforms?

By Paul Farhi  |  August 12, 2008; 1:33 AM ET
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Please email us to report offensive comments.

Swimming: According to a WaPo article a short while ago, it has more to do with new training techniques and a more efficient dolphin kick enabled by improved monitoring technology (better underwater cameras). Like Lance Armstrong, but for swimming.

Posted by: tutf | August 12, 2008 3:12 AM

-Why is Beach Volleyball an olympic sport?

-Why can't GE air their entertaining online ads on TV as well? (probably money)

-How much does Mary Carillo get paid?

-Which candidate will select Michael Phelps as his Vice-President?

Posted by: steve | August 12, 2008 10:34 AM

-Why can't NBC give a time earlier in the day for the finals for different events, even if it is subject to change, instead of listing all the events from 8:00-12:00?

Volleyball: I watched the Men's Latvia-Austria match the other day, and I think they had other music on at times. Why is a lot of this music still played at wedding receptions?

Posted by: Mark | August 12, 2008 10:47 AM

The announcers last night during men's gymnastics were atrocious. No information just blather on and on and on about how great the Chinese were. Not why they were great or what they were doing, just that they were great. They never used the telestrator, they never explained why a routine was well done or poorly done. Worst of all they would not shut up. During the routines they kept talking and talking about the most pointless things -- usually repeating the non-points they'd made just minutes before. I had to put the tv on mute just to get away from their complete lack of announcing skills.

Posted by: gulcer | August 12, 2008 11:21 AM

Will US viewers (are they even aware of that great Olympic Soccer Channel in HD) start caring about televised soccer if both the US women's and men's team advance to the medal games?

Posted by: Lots on tv | August 12, 2008 11:25 AM

Here's what I don't get about swimming: If the differing strokes are so important, why are you allowed to dolphin kick half the length of the pool underwater, thus rendering the required stroke less relevant?

Phelps routinely picks up a half body length with his phenomenal underwater kick technique that is nearly half the pool.

Posted by: JkR | August 12, 2008 11:42 AM

how dare you cast aspersions on America's Sweetheart/Heartthrob Michael Phelps!?! Your citizenship will shortly be revoked.

Posted by: Glenn | August 12, 2008 12:30 PM


You can go to and they have the times of events.

Posted by: Billy | August 12, 2008 12:42 PM

Oh lots on tv, nobody cares about Olympic soccer, and I say that as a huge fan from Argentina.

Posted by: Chris | August 12, 2008 12:53 PM

seriously, the play by play guy - al trautwig - or whatever his name is, was ATROCIOUS. he doesnt seem to know what is going on and he sounds like some old fogey. why cant they get some new/modern announcers who actually KNOW something about the sports they are covering.

Posted by: Gymnastics | August 12, 2008 1:16 PM

I keep seeing the same sports in primetime - swimming, gymnastics and those hot gals in bikinis, oh, I mean Beach Volleyball. Can we see something ELSE? Weightlifting? Martial Arts? Bicycling? Fencing? Equestrian? I saw a nice online equestrian jumping event where an American girl got a surprising silver. We'll never see her in primetime. I did see some fun rowing and bicycle road racing early Sunday, when no one was probably watching. I just wish NBC would mix it up more, and knock off those damned commercials every 5 minutes. I got so frustrated with the commercial breaks last night that I turned the TV off around 10:30 pm. Did I miss good stuff? Probably. Did I care? Not at that point.

Posted by: Mom in VA | August 12, 2008 2:32 PM

Paul: "Why are so many world records being set in swimming? Yeah, yeah, Speedo's LZR Racer swimsuits, but how do you explain five -- five! -- teams beating the world record in the men's 4x100-meter relay? World records are rarely broken in track. Why is it almost routine in swimming?"

If you open today's sports page of the Post, there is a neato graphic about the design advantages of China's pool that are different from previous Olympic meets.

But really? Do you think anyone would notice if the pool was 48 meters instead of 50 meters? I do wonder.

Posted by: Terry | August 12, 2008 3:26 PM

Why is the men's team more personable and fun to watch? Easy, because they're on average 10 years older than the women's team, and thus have a little more perspective on everything--and haven't been treated like prodigies since they were three.

Swimming world records? The above commenters are correct--there was an article in the Post right before the olympic swimming trials noting that the swimmers are now allowed to swim further underwater and use the dolphin kick.

Would women's beach volleyball get in prime time without the uniforms? Apparently, because men's beach volleyball was on this evening and they wear shirts.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 13, 2008 12:08 AM

Forget whether that is Bob Costas's real hair color, is it real hair? and if so is it his?

Posted by: Taylor | August 13, 2008 9:48 AM

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