Friday, August 15, 2008
Updated: August 17, 6:52 AM ET
Debris caution at Beijing?
BROOKLYN, Mich. -- Debris was tossed into the pool during a Wednesday night heat race at the Beijing Olympics and nobody stopped it.
If Olympic swimming were held to the same standard that a NASCAR Sprint Cup race faces, the fans would be screaming for a caution to let the field tighten up.
They would be grumbling about the lack of passing and close finishes. They would be saying the absence of drama is hurting television ratings and encouraging fans to look for an alternative source of entertainment.
They probably would have called the five-second victory by the U.S. men in the 4x200 freestyle relay boring. Five seconds in a swimming pool is like being half a lap ahead in a Cup race.
Michael Phelps was two car lengths -- excuse me, body lengths -- ahead of second place after his leadoff swim from the pole position. Had there been a debris caution, making the competitors stop, tread water for a minute and pull up behind the leader, perhaps the finish would have been closer.
Do we really want to see this?
Watching records fall and great athletes dominate is what the Olympics are all about. It's what sports in general are all about. Nobody complains when Peyton Manning throws five touchdowns in a 49-10 rout. Nobody says it's boring when Frank Thomas hits three home runs in a 10-1 cakewalk.
Nobody says there's not enough passing when Kobe Bryant puts up 50 points in an NBA game.
NASCAR should be no different. If Kyle Busch leads every lap of every race, the fans should appreciate the moment, just as they do when Tiger Woods is on a tear in the majors.
Instead, fans gripe as they did last season when Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon turned the championship Chase into a two-driver playground.
We'd all like great finishes. We'd like to see more of them in the Olympics as well, but it's not up to the leader to slow down or wait on a caution to make it interesting anymore than it will be for the leader in Sunday's Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway.
It's up to the rest of the field to catch him.