The Olympics Sap-o-Meter.

Scenes from the Olympics.
Aug. 21 2008 10:27 AM

The Olympics Sap-o-Meter

Usain Bolt might be the world's fastest man, but mom runs away with the night yet again.

The Sap-o-Meter team chatted online with readers about this project; read the transcript. The Olympics Sap-o-Meter is now a widget. Add it to your Facebook page or blog. Check out Slate's complete coverage of the Beijing Games.

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

The Sap-o-Meter Tag Cloud
adversitybattledcancerchallengescouragecrydeathdedicationdeterminationdreamemotionglorygoldenhardshipheartheroinspirationinspirejourneymagicmemorymiraclemommotherOlympic-sizedovercomepassionproudsacrificespirittearstragedytriumph

For a primer on how the Sap-o-Meter works, check out our first entry. Did we miss your favorite moment? Send your Sappiest Line of the Day suggestions to sapometer@gmail.com.

Sap-o-Meter History

(click on any bar to read that day's entry)

Josh Levin is Slate's executive editor.

Derek Thompson is a senior editor at the Atlantic, where he oversees business coverage for TheAtlantic.com.

Chris Wilson is a Slate contributor.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

The Democrats’ War at Home

How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?

Congress’ Public Shaming of the Secret Service Was Political Grandstanding at Its Best

Michigan’s Tradition of Football “Toughness” Needs to Go—Starting With Coach Hoke

A Plentiful, Renewable Resource That America Keeps Overlooking

Animal manure.

Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10

Politics

Cringing. Ducking. Mumbling.

How GOP candidates react whenever someone brings up reproductive rights or gay marriage.

Building a Better Workplace

You Deserve a Pre-cation

The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.

Hasbro Is Cracking Down on Scrabble Players Who Turn Its Official Word List Into Popular Apps

Florida State’s New President Is Underqualified and Mistrusted. He Just Might Save the University.

  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 30 2014 9:33 PM Political Theater With a Purpose Darrell Issa’s public shaming of the head of the Secret Service was congressional grandstanding at its best.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 30 2014 7:02 PM At Long Last, eBay Sets PayPal Free
  Life
Gaming
Sept. 30 2014 7:35 PM Who Owns Scrabble’s Word List? Hasbro says the list of playable words belongs to the company. Players beg to differ.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 30 2014 3:21 PM Meet Jordan Weissmann Five questions with Slate’s senior business and economics correspondent.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 30 2014 8:54 PM Bette Davis Talks Gender Roles in a Delightful, Animated Interview From 1963
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 30 2014 7:00 PM There’s Going to Be a Live-Action Tetris Movie for Some Reason
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 30 2014 11:51 PM Should You Freeze Your Eggs? An egg freezing party is not a great place to find answers to this or other questions.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 30 2014 5:54 PM Goodbye, Tough Guy It’s time for Michigan to fire its toughness-obsessed coach, Brady Hoke.