The London Olympics Sap-o-Meter
NBC sheds tears and beams with pride at the pool. Plus: Tim Daggett unleashes the sappiest line yet in the Olympics.
It was family night at the pool in London on NBC on Monday. From American sensation Missy Franklin’s tearful gratitude for her parents to British diver Tom Daley’s recent loss of his father to brain cancer, the peacock treated its Olympic audience to four hours of parent-child storylines. That Olympic-sized volume of family bonding drove the Sap-O-Meter to new heights, as it registered the highest mark so far at the London Games, 48 Sap Points. (For a rundown of Sap-o-Meter methodology, read our first installment.)
The charming, bubbly Franklin was the night’s aquatic star and its queen of schmaltz. Before she hit the pool, NBC featured a short segment on the 17-year-old’s life back home in Colorado, where “she and her parents have been dreaming about [the Olympics] …since she was a very little girl.” (Emphasis on sap words is ours.) In synchronized diving action, the proud parents of Americans David Boudia and Nick McCrory cried tears of joy as their sons clinched the bronze.
The family narratives were a bit more downcast in gymnastics, as the U.S. men’s team finished a disappointing fifth in the team finals. NBC’s Al Trautwig raised the stakes for Team USA’s John Orozco by noting that for the 19-year-old gymnast the “journey to the Olympics was all about maybe being able to lift his family out of the Bronx and give them a new home.” At the end of the night, Orozco—who performed poorly on both the vault and the pommel horse—said he felt “personally responsible” for the team’s loss.
The Sappiest Line of the Day, however, was an evocation of a happier time in men’s gymnastics for the United States. NBC’s Tim Daggett, a member of the victorious 1984 men’s team, made the Sap-o-Meter light up as he talked about what it felt like to win gold. “You can't even describe the emotion,” Daggett said. “It's like, take every emotion you have, put ’em in a blender. It felt like there were 10,000 volts of electricity running through my body. Everything was amplified to a point that I’ve really never since felt. But each and every one of us had a dream, and a little magic happened that day.”
Krystal Bonner is a Slate intern.