I am in awe of Michael Phelps, who may or may not be human. But I wonder if the hyperventilating commentators have any idea how they sound as they remind viewers every two seconds that Phelps is amazing.
This is not intended to take anything away from the man's accomplishments, which are, well, amazing. The problem is that the commentators can't stop drooling over him, even when Phelps isn't the U.S. team member who's swimming. While one of Phelps' teammates swam a qualifying heat, analysts Dan Hicks and Rowdy Gaines delivered nonstop commentary ... about Michael Phelps. They yakked about the teammate's "great" relationship with Phelps, how the teammate helped Phelps learn how to loosen up, and on and on and on. When Phelps is actually in the pool, Hicks and Gaines go into overdrive. At one point, the camera went to a close-up of Phelps' size-14 feet, which, according to the giddy commentators, help him dust the competition. I fully expected them to launch into a fawning analysis of Phelps' manhood.
In my family, the Olympics are as much about the commentators as the athletes. Watching physical competition at such an elite level is thrilling, but the commentary provides a bonus of unintentional comedy. Take gymnastics analyst Tim Daggett. Daggett was on the U.S. men's gymnastics team in 1984, and he has a gift for dissecting every wobble, hop and slightly shaky landing. His favorite phrase: "That's going to be a three-tenths deduction!" Dude is harsh, but at least no one can accuse him of gushing.