How many will stay tonight to watch Michael Phelps swim?

August 16, 2008 | Nestor Aparicio

I was having this argument with Glenn Clark yesterday when we drove up to Aberdeen to play in the Ripken Little League “Quickball” Media Challenge: “How many people are really watching Michael Phelps every night?”

The TV people at NBC will tell you that they’re getting a 50 share, which is about half of the known universe. I don’t work in an office so I can’t account for the “water cooler” talk aspect of this year’s Olympics. I know the media has covered these Games and particularly the Phelps story with tremendous vigor, as they should. Phelps has a chance to do something tonight that has never been done before.

And on the world’s stage of the Olympics, it’s an amazing thing.

So yesterday, along come the Ravens (Phelps’ true first love from what we can tell) doing the right thing and trying to encourage we fools who are stuck with these all-but-worthless preseason tickets vs. Minnesota tonight to stay and watch Phelps swim after the game as a community. Pretty cool concept, I thought, when I heard it yesterday afternoon.

C’mon, if the last swim were actually being held tonight at M&T Bank Stadium, would you want to pay to come down to watch it? With 69,000 people?

I have a feeling they wouldn’t be able to build an icecube large enough to accomodate all of the people.

So the Ravens have given us the next best thing: group love on giant HD screens!

But watching on TV as a commumity? After four quarters of what no doubt will be some more of the usual painful preseason garbage that we’ve become accustomed to in August?

I suppose I’m staying for the Phelps swim just because I’m staying to the end to watch Joe Flacco play anyway (and it’s kinda my job).

But how many others will stay tonight?

Any predictions?

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