We’re past the halfway point in the Rio Olympics, which is always a little bit sad. For one thing, there’s no more swimming, and swimming (at least for me) is king. Also, we’ve already seen the premiere track event, with Usain Bolt doing his usual god-like 100m sprint. Also, the year’s best tennis tournament, which nobody expected, is also over. On the other hand, there’s some good news—all the team sports are finally past the group stages, and in most of them we can watch the Americans start to play the really meaningful matches. (Unless we’re talking about women’s soccer, sadly…damn you, Sweden.)
So that’s fun…plus, we get to watch some corrupt judges decide who gets all the illegitimate boxing medals! And as a last silver lining, the absence of some of the more prominent events lets you catch some events you might never otherwise see, like sailing and equestrian…if that’s what you’re into.
Before we get to the Monday’s schedule, here’s a refresher on the purpose of this guide:
1. Using both NBC’s various TV channels and their excellent live streaming site, I will show you how to watch the Olympics with an unmatched level of obsession and fanaticism. Note that every event listed on a TV network can also be streamed live, though the opposite is not true.
2. The focus is on catching every event where a medal is at stake, regardless of sport, and every team sport match featuring America. Follow me, and you’ll miss nothing.
3. Everything you see below is LIVE. We may be many things, but we are not tape-delay punks.
For a handy one-stop schedule of each event for the full two weeks, I made this spreadsheet to aid in your quest. Refer to it as needed.
8:00 a.m. — Swimming — Women’s 10km Marathon — NBCSN
This is an open water event, and I’m absolutely terrified for all the swimmers. If they emerge with only a few stray needles stuck in their arms, that would be a good outcome. If they cough up green phlegm for the next three weeks, that’s less positive. But the real worry is either that they get captured by pirates at some point, or attacked by a mutated six-eyed shark who wants revenge for the man-made pollution that has turned him into the freak of the seas.
9:00 a.m. — Equestrian — Individual Dressage Finals — Computer
All I’m going to say is that the gold medal favorite’s last name is “Broring,” and no, that’s not a joke. The silver medal favorite’s full name is Dullsville Snooze-Alert, and yes, that part is a joke.
9:40 a.m. — Field — Women’s Hammer Throw Finals — NBC
I’m in a weird Olympic pool where you have to pick the gold medal favorite in 15 different events, but never use the U.S. (you actually get punished if America beats your team), and suddenly it has become very important for me that a Polish woman wins this event. So you bet your pretty head I’ll be rapt for this one.
10:00 a.m. — Synchronized Swimming — Duets Technical Routine — Computer
Still not the absolute finals, but it’s by far the funniest sport at the Olympics—even though it’s also kinda graceful and impressive—and you shouldn’t miss a chance to watch.
10:15 a.m. — Track — Women’s Steeplechase Finals — NBC
Hey, did you hear about that woman who was always trying to marry a priest? Yeah, she was a real steeple chaser.
10:30 a.m. — Men’s Volleyball — U.S. vs. Mexico — NBC
This is the last match of the group stages, and the Americans are right on the cutoff line for not making the quarterfinals. That’s the bad news. The good news is that Mexico hasn’t won a match yet, and if the Americans can take care of business, they’re guaranteed to land a spot in the knockout rounds. They’ve already beat Brazil, one of the event favorites, so it’s a real case of “anything can happen” if they don’t screw up royally against Mexico.
11:30 a.m. — Women’s Field Hockey — U.S. vs. Germany (QF) — NBCSN
This entire tournament is building to a U.S. vs. Netherlands gold medal match, and I guess I should probably watch our team before it gets to that point, so I don’t come in totally ignorant. By the way, do field hockey players grow up to have hunchback deformities? I’m serious about asking that question, but not so serious that I’ll spend time Googling it myself.
12:05 p.m. — Sailing — Women’s Laser Radial Finals — Computer
I hope they attack each other with actual lasers that can set boats on fire.
1:00 p.m. — Gymnastics — Men’s Rings Final — Computer
An American man actually won a bronze medal on the pommel yesterday! After four years of choke jobs in London and Rio, that’s not nothing.
1:05 p.m. — Sailing — Men’s Laser Finals — Computer
I just want to let you know that I’m not going to be a complete hack and make a Dr. Evil laser joke here. No way. Not unless someone pays me….ONE MILLION DOLLARS.
1:10 p.m. — Women’s Water Polo — U.S. vs. Brazil (QF) — NBC
This is a match the U.S. should win if not easily, then without too much trouble. Like field hockey, there are two teams that seem to be better than all others, and in this case the U.S.’ chief rival is Italy. Which is no surprise…living in Venice is basically like playing water polo full time, if you can’t afford a gondola.
1:54 p.m. — Gymnastics — Men’s Vault Final — Computer
If they put a second vault up in the air somewhere, and then a third above that, and so on, could someone vault right out of the stadium?
2:46 p.m. — Gymnastics — Women’s Balance Beam Final — Computer
This is Simone Biles’ chance for a fourth gold medal, and just like the vault yesterday, she’ll win it as long as she doesn’t fall off the beam or really blow her routine. Watching her (and the rest of her team) has been so awesome, and it’s pretty crazy to think that we’re literally watching the best women’s gymnast ever. I’m not waiting until primetime to watch this one.
3:00 p.m. — Men’s Beach Volleyball — Dalhausser/Lucena vs. Brazil (QF) — NBC
There are so many great things about beach volleyball, but the Rio version has added SNL’s Leslie Jones to the mix to send the sport into the stratosphere. Watching her dance with the American flag in the front row has been even cooler than seeing the Team USA basketball players turn into total beach volleyball fanboys. Dalhausser won gold in 2008, but got upset with his former partner in the round of 16 in London. Now he’s back to the quarterfinals, and facing the gold medal favorite Brazilian team. He and Lucena will need to play the match of their lives to win this one, but if they do, they’ll find themselves on the fast track for gold. I’m already nervous.
4:23 p.m. — Cycling (Track) — Men’s Omnium Finals — NBCSN
Omnium, to me, sounds either like a brand of high-end watches, or an evil investment banking firm in a financial thriller film, named after the Greek God of avarice, or something.
4:30 p.m. — Greco-Roman Wrestling — Men’s 85kg Finals — Computer
Thanks God the Greeks and Romans were constantly wrestling together, or we wouldn’t have this exciting style of combat. (Will be replayed on NBCSN at 8 p.m.)
5:30 p.m. — Greco-Roman Wrestling — Men’s 130kg Finals — Computer
Greco-Roman wrestling is distinguished from freestyle wrestling in that the wrestlers have to engage from the waist up only. No leg action. I’m convinced that the style was developed after some dude was doing normal wrestling and got hit in the balls one too many times. “That’s it—I’m inventing a whole new thing where my balls are totally safe.” (Will be replayed on NBCSN at 8 p.m.)
6:00 p.m. — Weightlifting — Men’s 105kg Finals — Computer
I have to say—weightlifting has been weirdly fun to watch. I only tuned in because of the pool I mentioned above, but every time I do, the drama of seeing whether they’ll successfully get the bar over their head, fail at the last moment, or literally have an arm snapped off, is pretty intense.
6:15 p.m. — Boxing — Men’s Heavyweight Finals — Computer
I’ll probably giving Olympic boxing a try, but the fact that it’s almost as screwed up as professional boxing, with even more dubious results, is really saying something. It’s so mismanaged and potentially corrupt that if the IOC were a sport, it would be Olympic boxing. (Will be replayed on NBCSN at 8 p.m.)
7:35 p.m. — Field — Men’s Pole Vault Finals — Computer
I’m going to watch this one on the computer after NBC let me down so thoroughly with coverage of the long jump this past weekend. That’s such a cool event, with such huge implications—the winner is literally the man who can jump the farthest in the entire world—that for them to show just the last three jumps, and nothing else, was a huge travesty. Pole vault is pretty damn cool too, and since I want to see more than just the winning leap, I can’t trust TV for this one.
9:25 p.m. — Track — Men’s 800m Finals — NBC
This one’s all Kenya, all the time. Is it just me, or are the Kenyans starting to branch out from the distance races and encroaching on the shorter events? In eight years, Kenya will win every single gold on the track, and it will be too late to do anything about it.
9:45 p.m. — Track — Women’s 400m Finals — NBC
This is Allyson Felix’s big shot at gold, and surprisingly one of the few big races in which a U.S. athlete is favored.
That’s it for tonight—it was a low-key day, by Olympic standards, but check back tomorrow morning as we start to ramp up the schedule for the home stretch.