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Johnson-Yang worth more than all the Dans...


Johnson-Yang worth more than all the Dans & Daves

Years from now, when we look back on the 1992 Olympic decathlon competition, we'll probably recall how a sneaker company's plans went awry.

Last night, during its prime-time show, NBC recalled the 1960 decathlon, a matchup between American Rafer Johnson and Taiwan's C. K. Yang. It was a story of heated competition and friendship. No mention was made of commercials that promised "To be settled in Rome."

Sure, it's probably better that the pretense of amateurism has left the Games and that reality has taken hold. But a little of the romance is gone, too.

Later, dude

Yet another fun thing about NBC's volleyball coverage is the announcing. Chris Marlowe and Paul Sunderland are enthusiastic about the sport and not afraid to express their opinions.

Marlowe and Sunderland have been just as critical of the Americans as they have of other teams. When someone makes a bonehead play -- not that my untrained eyes could pick it up -- they are all over it. And when a team slowly is sinking under the net, they don't try to pretend a competitive match is going on.

Sometimes, Marlowe and Sunderland use jargon that sounds straight off the beach. Last night, they were saying something about a "pancake" and a "spatula." I didn't understand what they meant, but I suddenly felt like eating breakfast.

No. 1 in your heart

A scene from one of those Coke World Tour commercials reminded us that soft drinks aren't the only thing that the United States exports. In a Spanish ad, a young man is seen wearing what seems to be a No. 53 Green Bay Packers jersey.

Very Teshing

John Tesh and his overwrought, oversensitive gymnastics rTC commentary have ended, but his spirit continues in the wrestling coverage. Last night, we were told that American wrestler John Smith "was born to wrestle, born to win."

And tramps like us, baby, we were born to run.

Role player

Give Dwight Stones a role, and he plays it.

Paired with Dan O'Brien to cover the decathlon competition, Stones took his play-by-play role to an extreme last night. During the high jump portion of the event, Stones asked O'Brien to explain the difference between two high jumping styles.

It's nice of Stones to defer to his analyst, but let's not forget that Stones, not O'Brien, once was one of the world's best high jumpers.

Looking ahead

Tonight's show (channels 2, 4, 7:30-midnight) should be quite speedy. That's not to say it won't take as long, but plenty of track and field is planned, including the men's and women's 200-meter, men's 400 hurdles and women's 100 hurdles.

The stars of the evening, though, likely will be long jumpers Carl Lewis and Mike Powell and decathlete Dave Johnson.

Also featured will be solo synchronized swimming. This, I suppose, will demonstrate how you can be at one with yourself.

Numbers game

If you've been keeping track of NBC's Olympics ratings -- and if you have, I'm sure you have your reasons -- then Tuesday's prime-time numbers are disturbing indeed. The network drew a 15.4 rating and 29 share, its lowest of the Games.

For 10 prime-time shows, NBC has averaged 18.5/35. That rating is 2 percent higher than the 18.1 after 10 nights from Seoul in 1988.

NBC has sworn on Jim Lampley's loafers that it will average a 15.3 rating from Barcelona.

Ratings measure the percentage of television households watching a program. Shares measure the percentage among homes where television is in use. In case you were wondering, I have to keep writing those sentences because I'm being punished for chewing on the sports editor's pencils.

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