Human Interest


Man, oh man! I’m in “hog heaven.” If you love watching sports on television like I do, right now you are as happy as a clam! Thanks to Peacock, NBC Sports streaming service, I’m able to watch many of the sports I love, and this summer there is an amazing array of options. Now that men’s basketball is over, and it’s too soon for football season to start, all we normally have are baseball and soccer, two sports that rival watching paint dry. However, in 2024, there are two major happenings that open this year to some of the most exciting sports-watching I can imagine.

The first of these happenings is the summer Olympics. The Olympics are contested every four  years and with that comes the trials that showcase and select the talented athletes who will represent the U.S. in the Paris Olympic games later this summer. My two favorites are the swimming trials and the numerous events in the track and field trials. Peacock has extensively covered both, and I have had quite an enjoyable time watching these amazing American athletes. You probably know that the swimming trials were contested in a competition pool constructed on the floor of Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the Indianapolis Colts. In fact, two pools were constructed from scratch, one for competition and another for warm up and warm down. It was quite an incredible feat that allowed the largest crowds ever (20,000+) to attend the swimming trials. 

The second big happening this summer is the Caitlyn Clark phenomenon! Miss Clark is a recent graduate of the University of Iowa where she became the all time leading scorer in the history of men’s and women’s college basketball. Her graduation and stardom made her eligible for selection by professional basketball teams in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) draft. She was the first player picked in the draft being chosen by the Indiana Fever. While in college she quickly developed millions of fans with her amazing ball handling, accurate shooting eye, and sharp, pinpoint passes. Her fame and reputation led to record crowds for her women’s college basketball games and previously unimaginable viewership for women’s basketball on the TV sports networks.

Her popularity has not waned the least bit as a professional. In fact, if anything, it has increased. She has played in 20 games this season and draws record crowds both at home and away games. Attendance figures for the WNBA are directly proportional to whether Caitlyn is on the court. Her phenomenal talent has gotten this old sexist curmudgeon to watch nearly every Indiana Fever game this year. In the past, I can honestly say the WNBA held no interest for me, but that all changed with Caitlyn Clark. Interest in watching Clark play has translated into major network telecasts of Indiana Fever games as well as steadily increasing viewership. I am among those viewers.

The summer sports bonanza doesn’t stop with Peacock streaming the Olympic swimming  track and field trials, however. Peacock streams a smattering of the gymnastics trials, but they have never held my interest like swimming and track and field. Later this summer, NBC and Peacock will capture viewers attention by televising and streaming the Paris Olympics. 

Until then, my fascination will be focused on the 111-year-old Tour de France. “Le Tour” is the 21-stage bike race that traverses through the varied geography and terrain of France and ends on the Champs-Elysees. This event, the greatest bike race in the world, has become an annual summer sporting event that I can’t miss. Twenty-two eight-man teams race against each other, the clock, and the brutal mountain roads and ride 2176 miles during the 23 days of competition. It is a test of incredible physical endurance with some stages being over 100 miles and others that require riding to the summit of 4, 5, 6, or even 7 mountains. The Tour de France is a must see event, but I have to plan my time because most stages last 5 or 6 hours. 

This year, “Le Tour” started in Florence, Italy. The first three days/stages are in the mountainous regions of northern Italy. The remaining 18 stages are in France, but instead of ending in Paris as has been the case for 110 years, the Paris Olympics have necessitated ending the race in Nice on the Mediterranean coast. Yes, I agree a bike race that last 5-6 hours every day can be pretty boring, but during the telecast there is no shortage of images of beautiful vineyards and river valleys, quaint villages and large, bustling cities, centuries old castles and chateaus, beautiful gardens, and vast mountain vistas. NBC and Peacock entertain us with an unbelievable travelogue of France that takes you to places you would otherwise never see. 

I think I have conveyed how happy I am that so many sports I enjoy are on TV this summer. Starting with the Tour de France, and ending with the 2024 Summer Olympics, and entertained along the way with Olympic team swimming and track and field trials, there has been no end to the variety of enjoyable TV watching this summer. These, along with the popularity of the burgeoning professional career of Caitlin Clark have made this summer one to be remembered. Just turn on the TV, and I’m sure to find a sport I will enjoy watching. When these are over, Poof!, it will be football season. 

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  1. I thought I was the only person who liked to see parts of the Tour de France. I especially like the scenery, small villages, and climbs up huge mountains.

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