The London Olympics Sap-o-Meter
Where has all the schamltz gone? A slow night for sap fiends on NBC.
The sap geyser that is NBC’s Olympics coverage normally erupts between 8 p.m. and midnight, as reliable as Old Faithful. But on Thursday it ran dry. Where were the journeys, the inspirations, the daughters and sons? Thursday’s plotlines did not lack for sap potential: Americans Katie Bell and Brittany Viola tried valiantly to dethrone Chinese platform diver Chen Ruolin, Usain Bolt won everything, and Ashton Eaton and Trey Hardee delivered the United States its fifth one-two finish in decathlon history. Yet none of this was enough to generate more than 38 Sap Points, the lowest score since the opening ceremony.
On Thursday, most of NBC’s sugary sweetness came from beyond America’s borders. There was a trickle of fathers in connection to Kenyan 800-meter champ David Rushida, whose dad earned Olympic silver in 1968. And diving bronze medalist Pandelela Rinong of Malaysia contributed three of the night’s seven prouds in as many seconds when she gushed, “I think they [Malaysians] will be very, very, very, very proud of me. … As a flag bearer, I feel it's a responsibility for me to make Malaysia proud, and now I made it, so I just want to say that I'm really proud to be a Malaysian.”
Bob Costas’ interview with four members of the victorious U.S. women’s soccer team did, however, cap off the evening with a nice sap infusion. Abby Wambach began: “I'm so proud of this team.” Alex Morgan continued: “I mean, words honestly can't express how excited I was at that moment. I've never wanted to cry on the field, but I honestly think I shed a tear or two on the field, and I was so excited.” Hope Solo piled on: “We played with style and sophistication ... and we played with beauty. I think we're proud of that.”
Solo then sealed the deal by uttering the Sappiest Line of the Day. “This is the first team in my long career that I’ve ever played with that I've truly felt like it was a team,” she said. “From player No. 1 through 22 players, alternates included, it was truly a team effort, winning this gold medal, and I've never felt that with all of my heart until tonight.”
Read the rest of Slate’s coverage of the London Olympics.
Katy Waldman is a Slate assistant editor.