The Olympics Sap-o-Meter.

The Olympics Sap-o-Meter.

The Olympics Sap-o-Meter.

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Scenes from the Olympics.
Aug. 19 2008 11:46 AM

The Olympics Sap-o-Meter

"We saw people all around this stadium, as we were leaving, in tears, sobbing uncontrollably."

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Last night, NBC launched its 11th night of Olympics coverage by rehashing injured Chinese superstar Liu Xiang's failed attempt to compete in the 110-meter hurdles. "We saw people all around this stadium, as we were leaving, in tears, sobbing uncontrollably because they had been denied the chance to see their hero compete and attempt to defend his 2004 Olympic title," intoned NBC's Tom Hammond as the camera doted on Liu's face, contorted with pain. And just like that, the Peacock was off to a flying start. The final damage: a lugubrious 51 Sap Points.

Monday was a huge night for dreams. With 14 mentions, dream (65 cumulative mentions) inched closer to mom (70 mentions) in the heart-stopping contest to determine the sappiest word of the Olympics. At just past the halfway point of the 2008 Games, a mere one word from our original list of 33 has yet to be uttered during NBC's primetime broadcasts. That word is … Olympic-sized. Another three words are tied with just one mention: cancer, hardship, and triumph.


Sappiest Line of the Day: "We really did follow her dream and we have done everything that we possibly could to, to support her. And it's a very hard journey."—Valeri Liukin, former Soviet gymnastics champion and father of American gold medalist Nastia Liukin. (Emphasis on sap words is ours.)

The Sap-o-Meter Tag Cloud

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

Sap-o-Meter History

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Josh Levin is Slate’s editorial director.

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

Chris Wilson is a Slate contributor.