Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A few Olympic thoughts...

I know it’s rather trendy to bash the Olympics – particularly the Beijing Olympics. And while many critiques have merit (surprisingly I AM against human rights violations on a global level) people boycotting the games or calling for harsh penalties against the host country are missing the point. I was always taught (quite possibly naively) that the Olympics should be a time when politics were put aside for the moment, giving everyone a brief respite from global concerns to compete against one another on the athletic field (whatever that field may be) in a spirited manner. It is true the past competitions have not always lived up to this ideal, and it may be impossible to fully realize what the games were originally intended to do. But that doesn’t mean people can’t try to realize it.

Enough. It’s too big an issue for one person such as myself to clearly solve, and I am sure I am ignorant of a million points. I just want to say that the Olympics don’t always have to be viewed with a sarcastic, caustic tint. There are great things that come out of the competition, and that’s what I always look forward to every 2 years.

That said, it certainly won’t stop me from criticizing some of the stuff going on. Here are just a few random thoughts I’ve had watching the coverage the past few days, good, bad and indifferent…

Somehow, completely by mistake, I found myself awake on Sunday night around midnight to catch what might have been the most exciting race I’ve ever seen: the men’s 4x100 freestyle relay. Not knowing too much about swimming, I still realized what Jason Lezak did, shouldn’t have been possible. To come from that far back, in that short amount of space…well, who knew swimming could be that exciting. I’ll admit it, I even got choked up – but that’s not really a surprise – my weakness is when someone, anyone overcomes seemingly insurmountable odds.

Handball is my new favorite sport. I assume one of the main reasons it isn’t popular in the United States is because there just isn’t room for it – we already have indoor sporting events, why would we need another? That’s a shame because I love the strategy that goes behind Handball. The US didn’t even qualify which should be embarrassing, but somehow I don’t think anyone cares. Seriously though, I have to look into what it takes to qualify – I’m thinking I could lead a team at least to a bronze. I would outline my strategy, but why give opponents any help?

Does the “B” in CNBC stand for boxing? I think I’ve seen roughly 112 hours of the sport in the past 2 days.

I know this isn’t an original thought by any means, but the sports with judges (primarily gymnastics and diving) frustrate me. Watching synchronized diving the other night, I saw what I thought was a terrible attempt by the Chinese team – yet they scored fairly high marks. Next I saw the Russians perform what I thought to be a great dive, and the results were reversed. It leaves a sour taste in everyone’s mouth. And I understand the host country bias, but if that’s the case, how is anything fair for all countries involved? I don’t even want to get into the gymnastics.

Beijing is a 12 hour time difference. Why isn’t NBC, showing all live events from 7 PM to midnight every night? Or at least dedicate a channel to live events? I’m not sure when the Olympics get started every morning, but there are a ton of channels the Olympics are on. Let’s push “To Catch a Predator” repeats off a few weeks and show me some live coverage. I don’t care what the event is. I know the gymnastics is the bread and butter of the coverage (and there are a lot of things psychologically wrong with that that I won’t get into) but there are people out there that enjoy competition for the sake of competition and will watch pistol shooting and fencing. Especially if they’re in a medal count competition with their friends.

I leave you with this. Not one, but two reports about eating penis! And one's a video! Look, I understand that the far east is kooky and weird, and their belief system is something we should mock and denounce, but should we really treat this stuff as news? And yes, I also understand it's funny when you say and write the word penis. If you're 12.


Tim said...


I'm in for the handball team. We've got 4 years, I think we can show the rest of the world what a good ole fashioned American ass kicking is all about.

And synchronized anything is the worst sport.

And is this swimming pool like 5 meters short? The number of WR being shattered is amazing.

The Olympics are definitely causing me to not get enough sleep.

Goose said...

I have a strategy for offense - defense seems to be bodying up on hte attacker, but I might have to get a little clarification on that since sometimes it looks legit and sometimes it's called a foul.

I'm not 100% sure about the nuances of the sport yet, but there's time.

Tim said...

We just need a really fat guy with really quick reflexes to play goalie. It seems like it shouldn't be that easy to score. The highlight stuff I've seen the goalies take really horrible angles at the guys shooting.

And it also seems like the defenders are content to just stand back, in the goalies way, and let the offensive guys fire ridiculous, screened shots at the net.