NBC to air every event on television or online
If you miss any of your favorite events during the upcoming Summer Olympics in London, don't blame NBC.
Every sport, every single competition will be streamed live online or telecast by NBC and its affiliated cable networks in the U.S. this summer — starting with the Great Britain vs. New Zealand women's soccer game on July 25, two days before the opening ceremony.
It will be the most visible change for NBC in its first Olympics coverage since 1992 not run by veteran television executive Dick Ebersol. Ebersol, executive producer of eight winter and summer Olympic telecasts for NBC, quit as head of NBC Sports in May 2011. He will still be in London working for NBC as a consultant.
On television and online, NBC will offer 5,535 hours of Olympics coverage. The NBC broadcast network itself will have 272 hours, including the flagship prime-time telecast that will amount to a "greatest hits" of each day's competition.
Ebersol's successor as NBC Sports Group chairman, Mark Lazarus, ordered the live streaming during his first Olympics planning meeting after taking the new job.
"I said, 'This is what I believe. Convince me that we should not be doing it,'" Lazarus recalled. "Nobody convinced me."
Fans who want to see the streams on NBCOlympics.com will have to verify that they are paying cable or satellite subscribers. NBC said that's necessary to protect these businesses since they pay a premium to air the NBC cable stations because of the Olympics. While most live streams will be archived, reruns of high-profile events that are going to be shown on the network will not be available until after the West Coast broadcast.
There will be times that NBC's Olympics Web site is showing as many as 40 separate competitions at the same time, said Gary Zenkel, president of NBC Olympics.
The decision could neutralize what has always been a major criticism of NBC — that showing some events only on a tape-delay basis makes them feel stale, particularly in an era of instant communication. It might keep viewers from fleeing NBC, since some frustrated fans had sought out live telecasts from other television or Internet sources, said Andrew Billings, a sports media professor at the University of Alabama and author of Olympic Media: Inside the Biggest Show on Television.
"They realize it has to go in this direction," Billings said. "Some people say they are four to eight years late in this game."
Junior: 'We're getting close' to winning
The overwhelming consensus in the NASCAR garage is that Dale Earnhardt Jr. is on the verge of winning a Sprint Cup race. And even though his winless streak reached 143 races last Sunday at Pocono, Earnhardt hasn't tired of the questions about when he might win his next race.
"I don't feel like you guys (reporters) have asked the question too many times, because I think that if you weren't asking that kind of question, I'd be a little worried that nobody gives a dang when you're going to win," Earnhardt said.
"And then not too many people are paying attention to you or following you. So that's a good thing in a way and we'll just keep going. We're getting close and we've got speed and we've just got to put it together to win races."
Earnhardt had a car capable of winning at Pocono, but crew chief Steve Letarte made a conservative decision — which his driver supported — to bring Earnhardt to pit road rather than to gamble on fuel mileage. Earnhardt finished eighth and gained a spot to second in the series standings.
That race, however, showed Jeff Gordon just how close to winning his Hendrick Motorsports teammate is.
"To me, up until last week, I felt like they were a team that was just strong and consistent and doing a great job, but not really a team that showed they really had what it took to win," Gordon said Friday before Cup practice at Michigan International Speedway. "Last week they showed by dominating that race that they really stepped up their game this year and have a real legitimate shot at winning races."
■ NASCAR is changing left-side tires for its Sprint Cup race Sunday at Michigan, and will hold an extra practice session Saturday night. The change will not affect Saturday qualifying. NASCAR informed teams of the switch Friday, after a second consecutive day of soaring practice speeds at the newly repaved track. Goodyear said the higher speeds caused increased left-side tire temperatures, leading the company to change its tire recommendation.
Ex-Cat Phillips to miss Olympic Trials
Long jumper Dwight Phillips will miss the Olympic Trials because of a recurring injury to his Achilles.
Phillips, who competed in college at Kentucky and Arizona State, won the gold medal in the event at the 2004 Athens Games. He didn't get to defend his title as he finished fourth at the Trials in 2008 and was left off the U.S. Olympic squad.
The 34-year-old Phillips posted on his Twitter account: "I have had surgery and I am looking forward to competing at the World Championship in 2013 which will be my final year."
Phillips is a four-time gold medalist at worlds, including last summer in South Korea.
Gators' Zunino named Player of the Year
Florida catcher Mike Zunino was named the winner of the Dick Howser Trophy as college baseball's player of the year. Zunino is the first Florida player to win the award in its 26-year history.
The two-time All-American was the No. 3 overall pick by the Seattle Mariners in the first-year player draft, the Gators' highest pick. He's Florida's first first-round draft pick since 2007.
Zunino, from Cape Coral, Fla., is batting .322 with 19 home runs and 64 RBI. Florida opens play in the College World Series against South Carolina at 9 p.m. Saturday in Omaha, Neb.
Women's College basketball
Morehead St. hires former LexCath star
Nikki Davis, who won two high school state championships with Lexington Catholic, was hired as an assistant coach at Morehead State. Davis, who had 1,263 points, 802 assists and 530 steals for the Knights from 2003-06, led the team to a 71-2 record (.973) and back-to-back state titles in 2005 and 2006.
Davis played one season for Alabama, averaging 5.1 points per game, before transferring to Virginia Tech. She averaged 7.5 points as a sophomore, 6.4 points as a junior and 6.4 points as a senior.
France, England earn wins at Euro 2012
A torrential storm and a deluge of goals hit the European Championship as France and England swept to victories on Friday in Poland. Pounding rain and lightning around the Donbass Arena in Donetsk threatened to wash away Ukraine's match against France, forcing the referee to suspend the match in the fifth minute.
When play resumed after a rain delay of nearly an hour, France doused home fans' hopes with a comfortable 2-0 victory.
The storm's effects were felt 700 kilometers (435 miles) west in Kiev, where the kickoff between England and Sweden was pushed back 15 minutes. England, sparked by substitute Theo Walcott, then beat Sweden 3-2 in a thrilling seesaw match in the Olympic Stadium.
The last word
Rafael Nadal lost in the quarterfinals of the Gerry Weber Open on Friday in Germany, beaten by Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-3, 6-4 in Nadal's first tournament since winning a record seventh French Open. Nadal's reaction to losing to Kohlschreiber just four days after winning in Paris:
"It's not the time to look for excuses. He played much better than me. ... Today, from the beginning was tough for me."