The 2012 Olympics, in London, began Thursday, when the first soccer matches—including a surprise upset of No. 1 Spain by team Japan—were played across the UK. But it begins Friday, on the schedule, at least, when the 2012 Opening Ceremony comes in on your TV for the inevitable and likely unpleasant comparisons to Beijing's authoritarian extravaganza in 2008. There's a certain dignity to it, at least—you know you're skimping, but you also know you're skimping because you aren't at the center of a corrupt, oligarchic pseudo-party that runs the world's most populous nation. And the economy, you know.
In any case, the events begin at 6:30 PM CDT on NBC, when the network begins four solid hours of coverage of the Olympics, and stories about the Olympics, and parades related to the Olympics, and so on, and everybody says, "Well it's not quite the Bird's Nest, is it?" and the architect in London wonders to himself why he didn't give his own Olympic stadium such a cool name.
This is all speculation, of course, but I believe this is how things go. For a complete look at NBC's Olympics schedule check out NBC's website, and for updates on local athletes stay tuned to SB Nation St. Louis.