Sport U.S. Women's 3x3 Team Wins Olympic Gold—And Wins Over Fans in the Process
When do the Olympics start? Opening ceremony date, time, schedule for 2021 Tokyo Games
The 2021 Olympic opening ceremony will be a fun but poignant moment as the athletes of the world finally get to gather together in Tokyo and compete.After such a long wait, athletes and fans alike are excited about the event. There will be some soccer and softball action going on before the Olympics begin, but the opening ceremony will mark the official start of the 2021 Summer Games.
Team USA's historic triumph in Tokyo could mark the moment when a new juggernaut was born. And the excitement it generated proved that the sport deserves a place in the Games.
TOKYO — As the first week of the pandemic Games unfolded here, many elite teams, athletes and programs from America struggled relative to typical, outsized expectations. Simone Biles left the gymnastics competitionAgainst Sweden in its opener, the top-ranked U.S. women’s soccer team . Katie Ledecky—gasp—did not medal in a race, although, of course, . Even the U.S. women’s water polo team dropped an Olympic contest for the first time in 13 years.
What channel is the Olympic Channel? How to watch 2021 Games on DirecTV, Dish, Spectrum & more
Sporting News has you covered on how to watch the 2021 Summer Olympics, including how to find NBC's Olympic Channel.So it is with the Olympic Channel. But Sporting News is here to help you figure out how to find the Olympic Channel, which will not only provide hours of coverage, original programming and analysis, but also serve as the hub of Team USA.
With that in mind, friends, welcome to the fringe. It’s fun out here, away from the pageantry, the serious types, the high-minded and highfalutin. Come for the 3x3 basketball, for the deejay, the rowdiness, the crowd, the imagery and the style of hoops that sort of looks like basketball, if basketball married roller derby and took football as a second husband.
It’s glorious. Really. It’s physical, in that limbs must be lost, or at least broken, for the referees to blow their whistles. It’s fast, in that games last 10 minutes at most and possessions must be completed in under 12 seconds. And it’s consumable, endlessly, consumable, above all else.
On Wednesday, for an American fan base left with less to cheer for than expected, a bonus materialized in this universe of merriment. This bonus came wrapped in gold. Because the U.S. women’s 3x3 basketball team not only cruised through this tournament but stood atop the medal podium, becoming not only champions but the first in Olympic history. Perhaps this will be remembered as the night a new juggernaut was born.
Which NBA stars would make the best 3x3 Olympic team?
There are about five handchecks or bumps per 12-second possession that would be a foul in an NBA game and aren’t here. Let’s start with Steph Curry, who’s a tempting choice because 3x3 goes by 1s and 2s, not 2s and 3s. A point guard will inevitably find himself isolated in the post possession after possession after possession. James Harden, meanwhile, can defend in the post as well as any point guard in league history. But his game is a bit too methodical for 3x3.
Before the get-off-my-lawn crowd hops on Twitter to lambast this accomplishment as less-than-serious, they should know: that’s part of the charm and part of the point. That’s not to denigrate the growth of 3x3 across the world, the training performed by the players here, or the obvious and immense skill it took to win this tournament. It’s to point out that just because these are the Olympics doesn’t mean the games that are played here must put everyone to sleep just so that they can continue to be library-whisper serious.
No, sir. No, madam. These Olympics are changing, and that, too, is part of the point. Here in Tokyo, the purists can watch a mighty soccer power play for a tie, which is sort of like viewing a mini marathon with no course or no finish line, where everyone just … runs. Or they could have checked out surfers riding waves as a tropical storm approached, blackbelts throwing leg sweeps, or skateboarders—some only teenagers—grinding down rails next to “no skateboarding signs” that had recently been taken down.
Olympic soccer rules, explained: How men’s and women’s football tournaments work in Tokyo
Soccer at the Olympics works slightly differently than at other major international competitions and there are also differences between the way the men's and women's tournaments are staged. Here are all the details you need to know for the 2021 Tokyo Games.Both competitions operate similarly. Here’s how they work.
It’s easier to identify with the 3x3 hoopers, because most people, growing up, at least performed a rudimentary version of this same exercise in their driveway, barn or backyard. Those same people should never, not for a second, believe they could do what the U.S. team did on Wednesday. That is as ridiculous as considering something like triathlon “normal” and something almost everyone has at least attempted “weird.”
Take the U.S. team, for instance. It features two No. 1-overall WNBA draft picks in Kelsey Plum and Allisha Gray. It’s anchored down low by Stefanie Dolson, or Big Mama Stef to the uninitiated. There’s not a more likeable athlete at these Games, and when she won—after she helped force the Russian team into rare (for 3x3) foul trouble—she looked like an athlete who had snagged a gold medal, which is to say enthused, elated and relieved. Not to mention, well, athletic.
Then there’s Jackie Young. Want trials overcome, tribulations obliterated? Look no further. Not only did she head to Florida on vacation just before the Games started, but she finally found a few days to relax after the never-ending women’s basketball season. She knew there was a slim possibility that she would be needed in case of emergency—a break-glass player, more or less. Then Katie Lou Samuelson, the team’s fourth member, landed in COVID-19 protocol and could not travel to Japan. So Young did, straight from the beach, flying separately to show up and contribute. She left the best stadium in Tokyo with a gold medal hanging around her neck.
Olympics swimming results: Katie Ledecky wins 1,500 gold, Penny Oleksiak makes Canadian history
Sporting News tracked live updates and highlights from every swimming event at the 2021 Olympics. Follow for complete results from Tuesday's races in Tokyo.The Australian star, fresh off a thrilling win against Katie Ledecky in the 400-meter freestyle, proved her freestyle prowess again in the 200, making a late run to take the gold medal in the event as Ledecky faded to fifth. Titmus set an Olympic record with her time of 1:53.50.
That’s enough. But there’s more. The cameras. The Tupac. The bang-a-massive drum introductions. The dance team. Even the ball they use looks like some sort of waffle. There is a reason that, with so many venues to choose from, this is the one where the most volunteers show up and sit in the stands. That reason is simple. Because 3x3 is awesome.
The purists can be disappointed in these Olympics. The American ones, anyway. They should know that they’re simply looking in the wrong place. There’s still room on the bandwagon—and, now, there's a historic gold to defend in Paris.
The vote here is not to do away with 3x3 basketball but expand it.
Who’s up for 1x1?
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Winners and losers from the Olympics .
Here’s our last piece on the Olympics before we head back to the Mystics’ season and the Wizards’ summer league.Here are three quick things I’d like to see.