Entering uncharted waters

by Ed Odeven

BEIJING — Countless media reports have reminded readers that Michael Phelps will probably make millions of dollars in endorsement deals after the Summer Olympics.

He insists that the financial reward is not important to him, saying he swims “for the love of the sport.”

“My big goal is to change the sport of swimming in America,” he said.

His soaring popularity is breaking barriers, entering previously uncharted water.

The other day, he noted, “SportsCenter,” ESPN’s biggest sports news show, carried one of his races live. One of Phelps’ friends in the United States e-mailed him to let him know one of his races was broadcast live on a JumboTron at a Major League Baseball stadium. In the past, jai alai or bullfighting results had the same slim chance of appearing on a ballpark’s big-screen TVs.

These are small steps to help popularize the sport, he said with a smile.

Busy cooks: On the opening day of the Beijing Games, 300 ducks were served in the main dining hall. That figure has jumped to 600 per day, according to a news release.

Organization skills: A cameraman from the Caribbean Broadcasting Union (CBU) told me he’s providing his employer with footage of athletic competitions and press conferences featuring athletes from 14 islands and territories.

During a 10-minute bus ride from the Main Press Center to my hotel on Friday night, his phone rang three times, a telling sign of his job demands during the Olympics.

Indeed, CBU’s staff needs to have strong coordination among its journalists and production staff to make successful broadcasts each day.

Quote of the day: “There is always someone that goes down under the pressure. In Athens, that was me. This time, I got it out of my way and ran my personal best,” said American Anthony Famiglietti, who qualified for the men’s 3,000-meter steeplechase final.