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Olympics gymnastics: delayed and edited like a movie

U.S. gymnasts, from left to right, Gabrielle Douglas,

U.S. gymnasts, from left to right, Gabrielle Douglas, Alexandra Raisman, Jordyn Wieber and McKayla Maroney watch the screen moments before the results were declared during the Artistic Gymnastic women's team final at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Team U.S. won the gold medal. (July 31, 2012) Credit: AP

I knew all about the women’s gymnastics team’s triumph before I settled in Tuesday night to watch the Olympics. The first day or so of the Games I tried to avoid the spoilers but it has become increasingly difficult -- people talk, there’s Twitter, not to mention every website (including Newsday’s own) broadcasting the results as they occur.

I understand that a big part of sports' appeal is that, unlike other forms of entertainment, it offers true suspense. But movies offer a fair amount of suspense as well, and we usually know how they are going to turn out: hero wins, villain loses and perhaps dies. Nor do I necessarily enjoy a movie less when I know the outcome.

Case in point: "The Godfather", which I've watched dozens of times with no diminishing returns.

So, Tuesday night I decided to approach NBC’s Olympic coverage as if it were a movie. There were the heroes, the five beautiful young women of the U.S. gymnastics team; a passable villain in the form of poor Aliya Mustafina, the Russian gymnast who NBC never tired of telling us was a tempestuous diva. We had a theme song: Philip Phillips' "Home." We had costumes, hair and makeup. Way too much makeup. 

As for casting, I propose Jordyn Wieber to be played by (a much younger) Patti Lupone; Gabby Douglas by Gabrielle Union, Kyla Ross by Scarlett Johansson, Alexandra Raisman by Gloria Estefan and McKayla Maroney by Posh Spice.

Certainly the evening's coverage was edited cinematically. The women’s four gymnastics events alternated with the swimming races as if they were the slaughter of the Five Families intercut with the baptism of Michael Francis Rizzi: Vault, Alison Schmitt wins the 200-meter freestyle, uneven bars, Michael Phelps takes the silver in the 200-meter butterfly, balance beam, Ye Shiwen sets an Olympic record in the 200-meter individual medley, floor excercises.

And then, I went to the mattresses.

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