How & When To Get Your Olympic Soccer Fix

On any normal day, my interest in sports applies only to reruns of Coach Taylor coaching the Dillon Panthers to victory in Friday Night Lights. But, that all changes for about three weeks every two years. I am an Olympics fanatic . Summer or Winter, I don't care. I look forward to those few precious days when I can plant myself in front of my TV and root for athletes I may or may not have ever heard of before. I always have reminders set for the swimming and gymnastics events, but this year, I'm also planning on paying a lot more attention to soccer. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, soccer (or football, for the non-Americans) is the most popular sport in the world; so the whole world will be watching while their players take the field in Rio. In order not to miss any big matches, you may be asking: when is Olympic soccer on in 2016?

First of all, the Rio 2016 Games officially begin on Friday, Aug. 5. (NBC will be airing the Opening Ceremonies that evening, on a one-hour delay.) But, if you take a look at the full schedule grid, you'll see that soccer events actually begin two days before the publicized start to the Games. (Gymnastics is the only other sport to have live streams scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, and those are all "podium training" sessions, i.e. scheduled public practice time.) The first soccer match of the 2016 Rio Olympics begins at noon ET on Aug. 3 when the women's teams from Sweden and South Africa face off. There are six soccer events on that first day alone, and every single one can be streamed from the NBC Olympics website. According to NBC's Olympics website, Olympic soccer matches that are televised will be shown on the NBC Sports Network.

Men's soccer starts the next day, Thursday, Aug. 4. Eight games are on the grid for that day, including Portugal v. Argentina and Mexico v. Germany. (The temptation to call off of work and watch elite soccer players do their thing for hours and hours is so real.) All told, soccer is on 12 of the 18 days of the Rio Games. There are no matches on Aug. 5, 8, 11, 14, 15, 18, or 21. Otherwise, if you jump on the stream or switch on NBCSN, the chances are very good that you'll at least see a snippet of a Olympic soccer match-up.

Maybe dozens of soccer games in the course of a few weeks comes too close to your sports saturation point. (Or, you just want to give equal time to other exciting Summer Games sports, like Beach Volleyball or the Equestrian events.) In that case, you may choose to tune in just for the finals, aka the medal games. The Women's Bronze Medal match-up will go down at noon ET on Friday, Aug. 19, with the Gold Medal game at 4:30. The same schedule repeats for the Men's Bronze and Men's Gold, on Saturday, Aug. 20.

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For the full schedule of soccer and all other Summer Olympics events, check the official Rio 2016 website. You'll also want to bookmark it, since it's your resource to stream any matches that don't make it to NBC's broadcasts. Happy watching!

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