The Olympics Sap-o-Meter.

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."

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.

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

(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

Chris Wilson is a Slate contributor.


Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore

And schools are getting worried.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

The XX Factor

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.


Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

Why a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Is Stirring Up Controversy

How Worried Should Poland, the Baltic States, and Georgia Be About a Russian Invasion?

Trending News Channel
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 21 2014 1:15 PM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 5  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Time Heist."
Brow Beat
Sept. 21 2014 2:00 PM Colin Farrell Will Star in True Detective’s Second Season
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 21 2014 8:00 AM An Astronaut’s Guided Video Tour of Earth
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.