The Olympics Sap-o-Meter.

Scenes from the Olympics.
Aug. 14 2008 4:18 PM

The Olympics Sap-o-Meter

On a night of dreams, NBC saves its syrup for Michael Phelps.

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The question facing NBC last night: What should a network do when there's no possibility of a Michael Phelps medal ceremony? The answer: Ration your syrup! The peacock's usually exuberant commentators, perhaps drained by Wednesday's record-setting performance, restrained their romanticizing last night. The resulting schmaltz score:an all-time low 27 Sap Points.

Like the Olympic gymnasts in the men's all-around competition, the Sap-o-Meter produced strong but not soaring scores. Mom and mother mentions, which often anchor the team of sap words, had week-low numbers. (With Debbie Phelps mostly out of sight, they were essentially playing a woman down.) Rescuing the night with a Lezak-esque performance, however, dreams tallied a record nine mentions.


Sappiest Line of the Day: "It is unbelievable for Jonathan [Horton]. He's living a dream here."—NBC's Elfi Schlegel, setting the scene at the men's gymnastics all-around competition. (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 executive editor. You can email him at, visit his website, and follow him on Twitter.

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

Chris Wilson is a Slate contributor.