With all the entertainment choices available to us these days, you'd think watching a bunch of amateur athletes in a spectacle that comes only once every four years would rank pretty low in the must-see-TV hierarchy. But NBC averaged 35.6 million viewers through the first five nights of the London Games, more than any Summer Olympics from outside the United States since the 1976 Montreal Games, and people even made it a game of sorts to not discover the outcomes of events taped earlier and saved for broadcast during prime time. Millions more caught some of the action online.
As with all the Olympics, there have been highlights and lowlights.
Two of the highlights for Americans:
Swimmer Michael Phelps became the Olympian with the most medals in history, surpassing Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina's record of 18. He has 20 now, 16 gold, two silver and two bronze.
Kim Rhode became the first American athlete to win medals in an individual event in five consecutive Olympic Games. She earned a gold medal in women's skeet, setting an Olympic record and tying the world record by hitting 99 of 100 targets.
One lowlight for Americans was World champion gymnast Jordyn Weber not getting to compete in the individual all-around finals despite having the fourth-best score in the field. She was he third-best American finisher, and the rules allow only two competitors per country.
A lowlight for everybody – and the reputation of the Olympics – was the disqualification of eight badminton players from three countries for trying to lose games in order to get an easier matchup later on. Cheating in badminton? Who knew?