Last week, I told you that NBC's prime-time, Olympic coverage would be tape-delayed here from beginning to end. And yet, throughout the week, that coverage has often had a graphic in the upper right-hand corner declaring that it's "LIVE."

I wasn't lying. NBC is.

The exact same coverage that viewers in New York are seeing at 8 p.m. their time we're seeing at 7 p.m. Mountain Time. And it can't be live in both places. We're seeing it on a one-hour delay.

I don't want to make too much out of this. Frankly, it's old news. And, again, NBC reports that ratings are actually higher for taped Olympic coverage in the western half of the country than they are for live coverage in the eastern half.

But the network should remove the "LIVE" logo from the screen. It's just plain deceptive.

And given the technical wizardry that NBC employs throughout the Olympics — the cutting-edge, whiz-bang graphics that lead the industry — you can't possibly convince me that it would be that difficult to stop lying to viewers by telling them something is live when it's not.

IT'S HARD TO WATCH the Olympics when you don't really know what's going on.

It's not too tough to watch something like, say, swimming because what's to understand? Swim faster than everybody else and you win.

But then there are the subjective sports — everything from gymnastics to synchronized diving. I'm completely at the mercy of the announcers when it comes to sports in which a panel of judges assigns scores based on criteria that's a mystery to me.

And you can't tell me I'm alone here. I doubt many of you are synchronized diving experts.

At any rate, when NBC's announcers suggested that the American women gymnasts received scores that were a bit too low and that the Chinese women received scores that were a bit too high, I had no idea whether they were even in the ballpark.

The fact is that we've all listened to network sportscasters make mistakes in sports we do understand. We don't have to rely on some guy in the booth when the refs are ruling whether a receiver made a catch or whether a defensive back interfered, we can judge for ourselves. And who hasn't disagreed with the analysis offered up by sportscasters?

Most of us can't do that in gymnastics or synchronized diving. And it's disconcerting to have to rely 100 percent on sportscasters.

BUT NBC HAS DONE a fantastic job with these Olympics. The 10 minutes surrounding the American men's swimming victory in the 4x100 freestyle relay alone makes the 3,600 hours of coverage worthwhile.

When was the last time you heard people out and about talking about a swimming relay?

NBC'S COVERAGE ALSO has room for, well, sort of Olympic oddities.

Did you catch any of the team handball coverage on the USA cable network? At the risk of offending all the team handballers out there, it was weird. And yet oddly entertaining.

If not for NBC's multichannel coverage, it's something probably nobody in America would ever see.


E-mail: pierce@desnews.com