James Dunaway reviewed the July 1 NBC TV program which featured the last day of these amazing Trials...
The TV Trials
by Jim Dunaway
Sunday, July 1 ***1/2
Today was supposed to be the final day of The Trials, and except for the run-off between Allyson Felix and Jeneba Tarmoh, now scheduled for Monday, it was.
Things started off a little shaky for the announcing team when, in introducing the finalists in the women's 400-meter hurdles final, Ato Boldon said, about Lashinda Demus, "She has never been to the Olympic Games." Actually, Demus took third in the 2004 Trials and finished fifth in her Olympic semi-final in Athens. I also thought it took Tom Hammond and Ato too long to call T'ierra Brown coming up for third. After all, this is one meet where third is just as good as first.
And it would have been appropriate to mention that Brown's coach is U.S. Olympic women's head coach Amy Deem.
And in the men's 400 hurdles race call, surprise winner Michael Tinsley, who was moving fastest of all over hurdles 8, 9 and 10, didn't get a call until the last few meters, although his bright orange singlet was impossible to miss. We did, however, get a really good view of Kerron Clement edging Bershawn Jackson for third place, and we could see the misery on Jackson's face after the race.
I hope, too, that people will now stop spelling Tinsley's first name as "Micheal´-- unless that really is his name, in which case I hope people will stop spelling Tinsley's first name as "Michael." One way or the other, pull-eez!
Craig Masback did a good job calling the women's 1,500-meter final (did anyone beside but me notice that the runners were definitely not "set" when the gun went off?). But in the men's race Craig committed American announcers' Number One sin: he got involved in a lengthy disquisition (about Matthew Centrowitz and his father Matt) while long-shot John Mickowski charged into the lead. Craig ignored Mickowski (and us viewers) to finish his set piece, and we never were told who that guy in the yellow shirt was. Earlier, while talking about Matthew before the race, Tom Hammond referred to him as "Matt," no doubt surprising a good many listeners.
Watching the summary of the sensational women's long jump, I kept wishing that NBC's techies would have come up with a better way of showing viewers just how far these women were jumping - Brittney Reese, 7.15, Chelsea Hayes, 7.10, Janay DeLoach 7.08w (7.03 legal). As far as I can recall, this is the first time three women have jumped more than 7m/23 feet since the Athens Olympics in 2004. I'd have also loved to see the close-up photos of their hitting the take-off board, and I'm sure Dwight could have made that interesting.
It doesn't take much more time to do things like the above, but you do have to think about what might occur in the meet and how to make it understandable and thus interesting to viewers.
The day's final event was the men's 200-meter final. It was probably expected to be an exciting conclusion for The Trials, but a lot of the air went out of the tires when three of the four expected stars - 100-meter 1-2 finishers Justin Gatlin and Tyson Gay and the injured Walter Dix - withdrew. That made things a lot easier for Wallace Spearmon, Jr., who must be sick and tired of hearing the word "redemption."
Just before the start, Boldon said about Shawn Crawford in Lane 7, "I can guarantee he'll be in first coming off the turn."
If I'd been sitting next to Ato, I'd've shot back, "I'll betcha a hundred bucks," and it would have taken less than 11 seconds to win the bet, because Maurice Mitchell was in front when they hit the straightaway. Spearmon's strong stretch run brought him home in an excellent, but windy, 19.82 more than three meters ahead of Mitchell.
Now, an aside, about announcers and words, from the Grammar Police:
1. There is no "d" in congratulations. It should not be pronounced "congradulations." If you say "congradulations" instead of "congratulations," you should go to the blackboard and write "I will not pronounce 'congratulations' with a 'd' " 100 times.
2. NOBODY gets his or her ticket punched these days. That was a phrase used half a century ago when people traveled on trains; even then it was an instant cliché. But it seems to be having a revival among people who have never been on a train, and it is in appallingly frequent use today by sports people with poorly equipped vocabularies.
Always remember that using a cliché is a substitute for thinking. It is an insult to the listener, and a tacit admission of inadequacy by the user.
Class dismissed. There will be a quiz.