The Olympics Sap-o-Meter
Usain Bolt might be the world's fastest man, but mom runs away with the night yet again.
Posted Thursday, Aug. 21, 2008, at 10:27 AM
Usain Bolt may have set the world record in the 200-meter dash last night, but another story line outpaced his performance in the final Sap-o-Meter tally: the dead-mom narrative. As American volleyball star Misty May-Treanor sprinkled her mother's ashes over the sands of China after winning the gold, NBC littered its coverage with enough treacle to overwhelm even the most hardcore Sap-junkies. The final tally: a blistering 53 Sap Points.
NBC's saccharine coverage can feel more like a marathon than a sprint, but Wednesday night had its own runaway winner—mom, with another 16 mentions. Like Bolt's dominating performance in the 200 meters, mom benefited from both its own strong performance and underperforming competitors. Dream, which as of yesterday had been neck-and-neck with mom for gold medal in sentimentality, lagged with a paltry four mentions. Picking up the slack, golden earned a record-high seven mentions, receiving a major boost when America's "golden girls" May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh topped the podium for the second consecutive Olympics.
Sappiest Line of the Day: "Misty, moments ago we saw you and your dad embrace and that you scattered your mom's ashes on the sand. Describe your emotions as you did that."—NBC's Heather Cox, asking Misty May-Treanor for insight on the peculiar way she's celebrated her Olympic titles
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Derek Thompson is a senior editor at the Atlantic, where he oversees business coverage for TheAtlantic.com.
Chris Wilson is a Slate contributor.
Illustration by Nina Frenkel. Interactive feature design by Matt Dodson.