Thoughts on a breakthrough Olympiad for team handball.

The reality hit hard this early Sunday morning, in downtown Stamford, CT.

The offices fell silent, shortly after 5:00 AM. What was once a floor full of former athletes, typing as fast, and as accurate, as they could – each an "expert" in his field – had become deserted.

As each event came to an end and medals were ceremonyously awarded, one by one, comentators trickeld out – like an Omeyer blocked shot – saying their goodbyes. Following the completion of the France : Iceland game it all came to an abrupt end for me, too. You may remember that last week I wrote how I was overdosed on handball. Well, this past week I became comatose. Too much, too fast. And too damn often.

Following a weeklong team handball marathon I had finally adjusted to the Beijing time zone. Today I have to readjust. Like so many of the defenses I wrote about.

The sun is peeking out (Peking?) over an old Stamford warehouse. I am still busy replying to all the emails from appreciative handball fans. Most are new to the sport and made it a point to let me know how much they enjoyed my work and the beautiful sport I represented. Miss S. G. Rindy from Kentucky wrote: "Thank you for your superb coverage of the Olympic Handball games. As a newly converted fan of handball, I was enraptured with the sport so much that as I was simultaneously watching the USA battle Spain for the Gold Medal in Basketball on NBC, I was actually paying more attention to the Handball online. What a compelling sport; athleticism sui generis. Handball combines the balletic qualities of basketball with the physicality of American football (or rugby) with the fast action of International football ( Just what I was looking for –so glad I gave the sport a look. A fan for life!"
Here is another one from Mark Lopa of Newington, CT: "Bogdan, Thank you for all you did to make live online Olympic handball as exciting as it was. It's sad to see it end… maybe you'll do the same for the London Games."

London games? As in [b]THE[/b] 2012 London games? Hmmmm. I'm not sure I can let go of 2008. Not yet, at least.

It feels like yesterday, when the women from Angola and Brazil were doing everything in their power to trip up the Europeans from sweeping the Olympic prelim rounds. In the end it [b]was[/b] an all Europe affair but with a smidge of Asian flavor (Korean and Chinese…). Egypt and Brazil tried to do the same in the men's division. They, too, fell short.

Let's be clear about something. The non European powers have improved their game tremendously. There were no blow outs, not unless you consider an 8 goal margin a blow out. Eight, was the largest margin of victory on the Men's side, and 16 on the Women's. No team reached 40. And the Korean women won the bronze. How is that for Asian spice.

More surprising however were all the close games, prompting my good friend Mark Telthorster to email me: "[b]Parity[/b] reigns in Beijing." At first I thought he wrote [b]party[/b]. Either way, he would have been right.

There will be plenty written about these Olympics for weeks to come. For the first time, maybe ever, team hanbdall will get its fair share. Exposure was awesome. The televised games, dutifully covered by our very own Dawn (it rhymes) and Andrew Catalon, were a big hit with many fishwrap writers, in search for an "angle". Even the Wall Street Journal did a story on team handball and I thought we did something wrong – was handball taking the blame for the subprime mortgage mess?

What impressed me about this Olympiad is how varied the LIVE sports events menu was. Think about this: Watch what you want when you want it! It was as if you had your very own online TIVO. One TIVO for every sport.
In next few days, we will get an idea about how well the website did. Page hits, unique visitors, megabits per second – you know, the type of reports that will be sure to get the attention of the network execs.

Yours truly has been advocating the proliferation of web technology to aid our sport's exposure for some time now. Through private efforts, the Miami Sharks ushered in the first live webcast tournament with live game commentary. Chicago, Santa Clarita and West Point picked up on it ad ran with it. (and no, they are not telling me to say this… nor are they paying me for it) has finally done what network television was unable to do.

We'll look back on this Olympiad and realize that or the first time in the history of the Olympic games coverage, the American viewers were given a choice. And from what I can tell, some chose handball.