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History class not necessary

When my 11th-grade American History teacher, George Kepner Groot, said those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it, I never realized he meant I would have to sit through NBC's "Battle of Atlanta" Civil War re-enactment.

With all due respect to those who fought in that epic battle, as well as the men and women who favor Civil War re-enactments, Olympic viewers did not need a history lesson. With all the sports and all the fans and all the news stories happening in Atlanta, NBC chose to tell us about something that happened more than 100 years ago.

But just before 9 p.m., Bob Costas sauntered down the stairs in the NBC studio and began waxing eloquently about another gathering of men in Atlanta long ago. When he mentioned Ken Burns and said we would revisit the most important battle of the Civil War my jaw hit the floor.

Forget how good it was, forget if it was interesting. It does not belong in an Olympic broadcast.

GETTING ROWDY: Rowdy Gaines, the Winter Haven native and gold-medal swimmer who is enshrined on the Walk of Fame at the ThunderDome, may be the only person who cherished the ill-fated TripleCast. Gaines said his role on the pay-per-view effort of the 1992 Olympics helped groom him for this year's Olympics.

"I know only three people watched, but it really helped me," Gaines said. "It was all live, we covered everything, all the prelims, all the finals. From an analyst standpoint, it helped me so much."

Gaines has been one of the network's best analysts during the first three days. He was particularly insightful Sunday when he explained the breathing problems created by Tom Dolan's exercise-induced asthma.

Gaines lends enthusiasm to swimming while maintaining focus. His call during Monday night's dramatic 100-meter freestyle between Gary Hall Jr. and Alex Popov was a little high-pitched, but he didn't let his excitement prevent him from accurately describing the closing seconds.

That's no easy task for someone who won three golds at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1992.

"I have to be honest, I'm an American citizen and I swam for the U.S.," Gaines said. "We're really careful not to cheer, but I get emotional."

The contrast to Gaines is Summer Sanders, who needs another Olympiad to match Gaines' expertise. Some of her comments are insightful, but her delivery is flawed because it sounds like she is screaming.

A LITTLE NEWS, PLEASE: All is not well in Atlanta, but you would not know by watching NBC's prime-time broadcast. There have been transportation problems for athletes, and a consortium of 88 European broadcasters added its voice to the complaints, saying it wanted back some of the $250-million it paid for rights to the Games.

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