On Monday of this past week, I asked myself the question that I’m sure has been on many an Olympic junkie’s mind: Now what am I going to watch on TV for the next four years? Yes, I’m an Olympic junkie. Yes, I bleed red, white and blue. And, yes, I always root for the Americans.
Don’t tell me about the person from Country X or Y, about how that person worked hard, ran from war and had a disability or whatever, and that I should root for them. No, on the field of athletic competition, I root unashamedly for America’s Olympians.
Other than serving our country in desperate situations or in harm’s way, representing our country on the fields of athletic competition is a rare honor only afforded to a few. I’ll always cheer for the Americans’ effort even if an individual athlete’s character or the example they set is flawed.
Speaking of athletic competition, did you know that during modern-era Olympic Games “tug of war” has been an event. Seems that tug of war was ultimately scrapped because matches took as long as seven hours to conclude. It would be tough to show a long match live during prime time, and it sure would take up a lot of “up close and personal” segments.
Games before the modern era included Olympians competing nude, which sure makes the skimpy beach volleyball outfits a little more palatable to even the most prudish viewer. By the way, the least stressful match to watch in the entire 2012 Games, at least for me, was the gold medal women’s beach volleyball final. U.S.A versus U.S.A. — gold medal assured; relax and enjoy the view.
Weren’t our swimmers wonderful? New blood, old blood; pass the torch; youth will be served; veteran experience; and any other athletic cliché you may wish to use. However you describe the competitors and the American program, it looks like our swimmers will continue to dominate into the future.
In track and field, aren’t those Jamaicans fast? It kills my soul that Americans are no longer the “world’s fastest.” Also hurting American pride was losing the 4x400 relay for the first time since the 1972 games. What looked like poor baton passing in the finals and a broken leg in an early heat negated some of our usual speed edge in that event.
Our women’s soccer and water polo teams were just awesome. Tough preliminary matches toughened our teams and I’m sure helped firm up their resolve in the gold medal round. Not just from me, but from lots of junkies, direct to our women’s soccer team: “Don’t leave us hanging for so long; coming from behind three times in one game is nearly heart-stopping. Way to go ladies!”
Once again in the “subjective sports,” you know the ones that allow judges to award scores, the Americans came up a little short. So, tell me what does the splash have to do with the diving score or the dismount with the gymnastic routine?
Our shooters made all of us Second Amendment folks proud by taking early honors in several rifle and shotgun events. Putting the guns aside, how about those basketball shooters? Men, women; Dream Team, greatest team ever. It’s our game, we invented it and we’re the best at playing it. Enough said.
Even in my zeal to support Team U.S.A., I was disappointed with our modern pentathletes. The pentathlon has always been the “soldiers’ sport” — running, shooting, fencing, swimming, and horseback riding. Our best in the Olympic event this year was 32nd place. Maybe we ought to teach some Navy SEALs or Army Special Forces soldiers how to ride and fence.
All told, there’s really nothing to be disappointed in. Most total medals — U.S.A. Most gold medals — U.S.A. No boycotts, no political statements made on the podium and no terrorist attacks; just athletic completion among the nations of the world. These games were an Olympic junkie’s dream come true.
Art Callaham is a community activist and president of the Washington County Free Library Board of Trustees.