GREECE ENLIGHTENING
Posted by Matt Wurst on Aug. 19 2004 4:14 a.m. ET

SO MANY GAMES, TOO FEW TELEVISIONS

With NBC's consortium of networks, including NBC CNBC, MSBNC, USA and Bravo, you can just about watch any sport at any time you want. From basketball to gymnastics to water polo, it's all there. Even equestrian show jumping on Bravo at 4 a.m., which may or may not be anchored by Inside the Actor's Studio host James Lipton. But despite the expansive network and cable coverage, the time difference between the United States and Greece (anywhere from seven to ten hours) makes following the Olympics a bit of a challenge.

Most of the live events are on early in the morning or mid-day, times when most Americans are not at home watching television. So unless you have both the luxury of staying at home all day watching television and a room in your home with five or six TVs side-by-side, you cannot possibly be following all of the entertaining Olympic action from Athens...

...unless you are a savvy web user. The internet is clearly the best resource for comprehensive coverage of the Athens games. But even the web can be a frustrating spoiler if you do not want to learn results right away so you can go home and watch the day's events at night. All of the primetime coverage on NBC is on tape delay, meaning if you accidentally log on to ESPN.com or NBC's Olympics web site, you will learn all of the results before getting to see the events covered on television. So much for capturing the drama and element of surprise on Paul Hamm's miraculous gold medal comeback in men's gymnsatics on Wednesday afternoon/evening. Oh, and speaking of spoiler alerts, American swimmer Michael Phelps just won another medal since you started reading this.

The American Court-ship

If you are one of those Olympic fans that refuses to miss a second of U.S. Basketball action (welcome to the club!), you can't help but be impressed by the Women's Team and nervous about the Men's Team so far. The Helliniko Indoor Complex has certainly had its share of drama. The men could learn a thing or two from watching the experienced women dominate their opposition. The women certainly learned a lot from and were motivated by the men's opening loss to Puerto Rico. But in addition to dominating on the court, Diana Taurasi and the women are also enjoying their stay aboard their floating accomodations. Probably more so than the guys at this point.

One day after the U.S. Men got back on track with a gritty win over the host nation, Greece, many players were on hand to support the Women in their win over South Korea. Guard Katie Smith finally got back on the court and was able to log some minutes as her deep knee bruise continues to heal. The Australians, Russians and Brazilians have been impressive as well, deep with current and former WNBA talent. But the tournament's biggest surprise to this point has been Spain, undefeated at 3-0 and tied with the U.S. atop the Group B standings. Unfortunately, the Nigerian team has yet to win a game despite being coached by former NBA standout Sam Vincent.

No "I" in Team

The U.S. Women's Basketball Team is not the only group of Americans that is dominating in Athens right now. The U.S. Softball Team has outscored its opponents 31-0 in five games, though that total could have been more if it were not for a "mercy rule" that is in place to spare the losing team the from shame and embarrassment of losing by more than eight runs. Three of the five games have ended early as a result of the rule. Four of the five decisions have been one-hitters and the Americans have now won 75 games in a row.

The U.S. Women's Soccer Team also won its preliminary division and continues its quest to win another gold medal and avenge their 2003 World Cup loss to Germany. This could be the last international tournament for stars Mia Hamm, Brandi Chastain and Kristine Lilly, who have been playing together on the international stage since the late 1980's. The U.S. begins quarterfinal play on Friday at 11am ET.

A pair of American beach volleyball teams are on a collision course in the medal round. Misty May and Kerry Walsh have not lost a match in over a year while Holly McPeak and Elaine Youngs have also yet to lose on the fake beach with real sand. And talk about shooting for gold in Athens... no one has done it straighter than American Kim Rhode, who won her second career gold and third overall Olympic medal Wednesday in the women's double

Mending Fences

While the U.S. Women's Basketball, Softball and Soccer Teams have all won gold medals in recent Olympics, no American woman had ever won an Olympic fencing medal. Until Tuesday. Then two American women earned medals in the same event. Portland, Oregon teenager Mariel Zagunis won the gold medal in the sabre finals while teammate and No. 1 ranked Sada Jacobson of Atlanta, Gorgia took the bronze.

Everybody in the Pool

With gold medal fever rising faster than the daily temperature in Athens, let's take a dip in the pool to cool off. The Olympic Swimming Pool, of course! Through the first five days of Olympic competition, the United States had won a total of 27 medals, 15 of which have come in swimming events. On Monday, Natalie Coughlin became the first American woman to win a gold medal in Athens, outswimming all competitors in the 100m backstroke.

The American women also followed the mens' lead and took the gold in the 4x200m freestyle relay, shattering the swimming's oldest world record in the process.

More records are sure to fall and more American women are primed to win gold in the days to come. For complete Olympic results in all sports updated throughout the Games, check out ESPN's comprehensive coverage.