A Mom Battling Depression and the Death of a Beloved Grandmother—The Sap-o-Meter Pours It On

Scenes from the Olympics.
Aug. 7 2012 1:15 PM

The London Olympics Sap-o-Meter

NBC pours it on with a mom battling depression, the death of a beloved grandmother, and a thoughtful Grenadian.

120731_FRC_SapometerBird

As usual, it was sap-o-clock on NBC last night. There were challenging dives at the aquatic center and bitter memories from Beijing to be erased on the track. Bikers, divers, beach volleyball players, hurdlers, sprinters, and gymnasts showed spirit and determination in pursuit of their golden moment. But what really got the schmaltz leaking was a series of features built around tales of heartbreak and redemption. American hurdler Lashinda Demus, who battled depression after the birth of her twin sons, was shown advising viewers: “If your dream is to have a family, have a family. If your dream is to have a career, have a career. It’s no way that you shouldn’t be able to do both.” (Take that, Anne Marie Slaughter). Demus’ inspirational message, and others like it, brought the Sap-o-Meter’s final total to 46 Sap Points.

In Monday’s sap relay, Demus handed the baton to Dominican hurdler Felix Sanchez, who stormed to gold in the 400 hurdles. After the race, Sanchez pulled out a photo of his grandmother Lillian that had been concealed beneath the bib on the front of his jersey. “He found out his grandmother died the morning of the Beijing heats of '08,” Bob Costas explained. “Obviously, he was overcome by emotion when he made it to the top of the podium.” If it could, the Sap-o-Meter itself might have shed a tear. 

The usually innocuous racing bib was the sappiest item of the night, as NBC’s Tom Hammond’s noted that 19-year-old Kirani James exchanged bibs with South Africa’s Oscar Pistorius in honor of his “courage in competing as a double amputee against able-bodied runners.” The 19-year-old James, the 400-meter-winning phenom who brought home his native Grenada‘s first-ever gold, was also responsible for the Sappiest Line of the Day. After the runner’s big win, Bob Costas told the story of James signing an autograph for a young Grenadian fan. The words he wrote: “Your mom is extremely proud of you,” a sentiment that prompted Costas to mush, “Tonight, an entire nation takes pride in James, gold medalist for Grenada.”

Read the rest of Slate’s coverage of the London Olympics.

Katy Waldman is a Slate staff writer. 

TODAY IN SLATE

Medical Examiner

Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola

Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.

U.S. Begins Airstrikes Against ISIS in Syria

The U.S. Is So, So Far Behind Europe on Clean Energy

It Is Very, Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

Friends Was the Last Purely Pleasurable Sitcom

The Eye

This Whimsical Driverless Car Imagines Transportation in 2059

Politics

Meet the New Bosses

How the Republicans would run the Senate.

A Woman Who Escaped the Extreme Babymaking Christian Fundamentalism of Quiverfull

How in the World Did Turkey Just Get 46 Hostages Back From ISIS?

  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 22 2014 6:30 PM What Does It Mean to Be an American? Ted Cruz and Scott Brown think it’s about ideology. It’s really about culture.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 22 2014 5:38 PM Apple Won't Shut Down Beats Music After All (But Will Probably Rename It)
  Life
Outward
Sept. 22 2014 4:45 PM Why Can’t the Census Count Gay Couples Accurately?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 22 2014 7:43 PM Emma Watson Threatened With Nude Photo Leak for Speaking Out About Women's Equality
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus
Sept. 22 2014 1:52 PM Tell Us What You Think About Slate Plus Help us improve our new membership program.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 22 2014 9:17 PM Trent Reznor’s Gone Girl Soundtrack Sounds Like an Eerie, Innovative Success
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 22 2014 6:27 PM Should We All Be Learning How to Type in Virtual Reality?
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 22 2014 4:34 PM Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.
  Sports
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.