So yesterday --

Wait a minute. Arms up, everybody. Over your head. Now clap your hands. Rhythmically, if you're at all able. If not, watch your neighbor. Clap. Clap. Clap.

Now keep that up.

So how about that sweep by --

Don't stop now. We can't hear you. Without your constant encouragement, we wilt like Paula Radcliffe in the blazing Greek sun.

So the Americans swept the men's 400 meters, and the U.S. women --

Listen, we don't want to ask you again. We will, but we don't want to. We must have rhythmic clapping. We live for rhythmic clapping. We believe rhythmic clapping should be an Olympic sport -- rhythmic gymnastics is.

Anyway, the U.S. women won the gold in softball and the soccer team advanced --

For the love of God, people, we are doing all the work of writing this thing. The least, the very least, you could do is urge us on with the repetitive sound of two hands meeting in the spirit of the Olympics. We know because Greek TV runs a commercial incessantly showing an athlete forcing thousands of people to rhythmically clap for him. And now every track athlete is doing it. Every bus driver is doing it. The woman who empties our trash cans is doing it! So come on!

Forget it. Just forget it. Clearly you are not feeling the Olympic spirit. Clearly, you are suffering Day 11 malaise. We'll try something simpler on Day 12, like the wave. Get some sleep tonight and come back strong.

BUST OF THE DAY: Nice going, Jason Estrada. The super heavyweight lost a 21-7 decision to Cuban Michel Lopez Nunez in a quarterfinal bout. Fine. But here is his comment: "If I'm going to lose I'm going to lose getting hit as little as possible. I'd rather not get hit at all. This is just one part of my life, I've got a lot more to go."

I'd rather not get hit at all? Did you skip that day in boxing school, Jason? Go home. And that "not getting hit" plan? We have a sneaking suspicion it's not going to work out for you.

SURPRISE OF THE DAY: Debbie McDonald, 49, moved into contention for an individual dressage medal with a fault-free round on Brentina that moved her to fourth overall. The United States hasn't won a medal in individual dressage since 1932.

BONEHEAD MOVE OF THE DAY: It's a good thing NBC spread its coverage over a gazillion channels because viewers needed two of them to watch one soccer match. While MSNBC left live coverage to show commercials in the first half of the scintillating United States-Germany semifinal, Kristine Lilly scored the first U.S. goal.

Never mind that this was potentially the final game in the careers of Mia Hamm & Co. Instead of soccer, viewers were pitched the new Oust "Odor Eliminator," a nifty little fan that replaces odors with aromas, from scented oils (Outdoor! And citrus!).

When MSNBC returned to the game, Jim Lampley had to tell viewers: "While we were away . . ."

Viewers who were watching Telemundo, however, didn't miss a thing. The Spanish-language network knows better than to interrupt soccer matches with commercials. Its viewers got Andres Cantor's trademark "Goooooooooooooollllllllllllllllll" call in all its glory after Lilly scored.

Not surprising, since Telemundo's soccer coverage has been far superior to its English-language counterparts. Cantor has been very strong, repeatedly pointing out that both the United States and Germany advanced to the semifinal on goals that should have been disallowed by the referee.


"I don't have the possibility to change it. Our rules don't allow it."

-- International Gymnastics Federation President Bruno Grandi, on the possibility that Korean gymnast Yang Tae Young could get a duplicate men's all-around gold medal.

SIGN OF THE ACROPOLIS: A synchronized swimming duo from Slovakia are wearing shiny blue suits with yellow signs reading "Shark Zone." Their music? The theme from "Jaws." This was no boating accident!

-- Tracee Hamilton

and Emilio Garcia-Ruiz