But in the main, the announcers NBC trotted out were solid, especially those who called the action from across the Atlantic Ocean. The Peacock’s announcers for a multitude of sports, from archery to equestrian to weightlifting, were actually in a Manhattan studio, working off the host broadcast feed. Describing the action off a monitor is tricky—without the ability to witness anything but what is captured by the cameras, broadcasters are working without the full range of information. It also becomes easy to forget the viewing audience consists mostly of people with little to no knowledge of the rules and history of the sport.
In that context, the likes of Craig Hummer and Jeff Bukantz on fencing, and Hummer and Rick McKinney on archery, stood out. They nicely described the goings on while never forgetting the sports they called were chock full of arcana utterly foreign to their viewers. Wolf Wigo was actually poolside in London for the water polo, but he, too, was outstanding. And Rowdy Gaines excelled in the high-profile swimming venue. His gig has always been ripe for criticism, but Gaines manages to balance sound technical commentary with excitement when appropriate, and he clearly is up to speed on all the swimmers, American and otherwise.
On the other hand, the gymnastics team of Al Trautwig, Tim Daggett, and Elfi Schlegel were, as usual, overwrought, jingoistic, and far too assuming of the casual fan’s understanding of the finer points of the routines they were watching.
One last Olympic thought: Before every Olympics, Brian Cazeneuve of Sports Illustrated attempts to predict every medal in all 302 events. It’s a bizarrely compelling undertaking, showing off both tremendous reportage and astounding nerdiness simultaneously. It’s also something of a goof, since what kind of maniac would actually bother to check his accuracy rate, anyway?
(Raises hand sheepishly.)
Yes, I went and looked up exactly how well Cazeneuve did at forecasting the medals. He did rather well, it seems, with the caveat being that I have nothing to grade him against. Of the 302 golds handed out, Cazeneuve correctly called 116 of them. In 14 events he got all three placings spot on, compared to 20 times in which he missed on all three. There were 29 events where he got the three top finishers right, just not in the proper order, and 136 more where he called two of the three. Overall, it may not have been an effort worthy of comparison to Usain Bolt’s performance (who Cazeneuve had finishing second in the 100 meters, a prediction he surely wants back), but more on the level of Jamaican female sprinter Shelly-Anne Fraser Pryce, who won the 100 and silvered in the 200, both finishes that Cazeneuve called correctly. Well done, sir.