Modern journalism at its finest once again.
William Saletan has a (risible) piece up at Slate challenging the Olympic 100m butterfly victory of Michael Phelps.
Sorry, but none of these assurances holds water. The scoreboard doesn’t tell you which swimmer arrived, touched, or got his hand on the wall first. It tells you which swimmer, in the milliseconds after touching the wall, applied enough force to trigger an electronic touch pad. As to whether Phelps touched first, there’s plenty of unresolved doubt.
The human eye, in real time and basic video replay, suggests Cavic won. But that could be an optical illusion. Cavic takes one big stroke toward the wall, then glides to it with fingers extended. Phelps does the opposite: He shortens his stroke so he can squeeze in one more truncated stroke. He gambles that the speed he gets from the extra launch will make up for the additional time it requires. Cavic leads but closes the distance to the wall slowly; Phelps trails but closes the distance fast. In ultraslow-motion replays, it looks as though Cavic has reached the wall while Phelps is still closing. But these replays break down Cavic’s glide to such short increments that you can’t really tell whether he has stopped.
I’m kinda speechless here.
Because even media-disconnected me managed to get to see the Sports Illustrated (yeah, not a mainstream magazine that big-time journalists like Saletan might have looked at in doing his research…) spread on the finish?
Remind me again why I’m supposed to take mainstream journalists seriously?
Seriously,. the problem with trivial stories like this one is that it cracks the mantle of credibility that the journalists need – because it’s really the only thing they have to sell.