Since this year's Tour ended my bride and I have taken to making the Summer Olympics our occasional morning or evening tube break. They're sort of perfect for that purpose; you don't have to remember what happened last week, you can tell who's-who because the actors usually have their names somewhere either on their shirts or on the screen, and the entire little episode usually wraps up in less than an hour.
Don't get me wrong; I appreciate many of the sports for the skill and dedication they require. But, honestly? I could probably go to my grave without really caring who wins all those shooting medals (what's the point unless the target gets to shoot back, really?), I can't help but thinking that beach volleyball is sort of ridiculous (what other "sport" has to be played in a bikini, and, if it does, why don't the men have to wear Speedos?), and, really, fucking water polo?
It may be a hell of a sport to play, but it's the most boring sport to watch outside competitive chess if you're willing to count that as a sport and I don't.
And it was all very nice, but...the relentless homerism of the NBC broadcasting network really grates on me. It's nice that some American boy will take home a medal for shooting clays, but...how about hearing and seeing some of those gajillions of other people who have come all this way to compete?
Ugh. I could go on and on, but, why?
The bottom line is, has always been, and always will be that nationalism and patriotic lust for gold and silver drives the Olympic bus. Take away the flags and anthems and uniforms and turn it into a bunch of random people just trying to be the best kayaker or fencer or judo player in the world?
Good luck getting forty or fifty people in a high-school gym for that one, bub.
weightlifter from Taiwan, the track cycling gal from Hong Kong, the epee fencer from Venezuela.
To beat the odds, to beat the weightlifters and cyclists and fencers from the big nations with the big money and the big organizations, to stand there with the broad satin ribbon and the big metal disk on your chest while you listen to the music playing that's telling the world that for the next four years you are the best in the world at your sport (or second best, or third...in all the world!) and that you have done something that no one else - no one - in all your country has done?
It must be a very odd feeling, and a very fierce feeling, and a very wonderous feeling, all at the same time.