Some of the comments herein are serious, others are satyric.
Sometimes this is one-and-the-same.
A year ago, I happened to turn on my TV, dusty as it was, and unintentionally channel-surfed to a station exhibiting extremely odd sporting events -- people in padded suits doing some of the silliest things for a chance to be on the tube, and probably to earn a bit of cash. This was amusing. Once.
Well, once every two years those of us who think sports should come along once in a blue moon can have their blue moon. In the winter, it's the Winter Olympics, generally hosted somewhere with snow so that skiers can have a good surface to slalom down. When it's over, I don't have to hear about the foibles of figure skaters for another four years, during which, presumably, someone will teach them some manners. Kneecapping isn't a recommended punitive measure for violators.
Two years later, along come the Summer Olympics. This year it's hosted somewhere where the heat and humidity will guarantee that the "S" is ideally honored, and that the runners will have pools of sweat to slip in. One would think a cool climate would be more appropriate for the energy which will be expended.
At any rate, if I remember to turn on my TV before August (always an iffy proposition), there are indeed certain sports which interest me. The archery, canoing/kayaking, diving, equestrian, fencing, gymnastics, and water polo will be of interest.
However I know quite well that even if I remember to watch the tube, the only events of the above likely to be available are the gymnastics and the diving. Archery? Forget it. Kayaking? Maybe ten seconds, if someone dramatically tips over, or if the Americans win the gold. No, it will be basketball, or boxing, both of which there are already too much of in non-Olympic settings. One can drive through any good-sized town, and if the weather is cooperative, one can spot any number of pick-up basketball games, played by TRUE amateurs. These are the real games, the ones which foster individual and team involvement over couch-potato tubeside coaching.
These are the Olympics, folks. Write your friendly neighborhood broadcaster, official sponsor to the Atlanta Olympics, and tell them you want to see archery, kayaking, fencing and water polo. Without subscribing to ESPN just for the two weeks.
Needless to say, in most cases I really don't care who wins events. I certainly don't root by accident of nationality. Mostly I look at the aesthetics of the event -- the grace, the form, the movement. Hoping that whomever truly is best gets to win, and that bad breaks are minimal. I do favor individuals who've come back from setbacks, whether physical injury or cultural disapproval. Those who think the world owes them a medal (or act like it) I find disappointing. Those who have had years of steroid-enhanced buildup I also shun (but here one can only guess, because only a few individuals are stupid enough to use steroids just prior to the events).
The Olympics have moved from an era where this was more or less truly Amateur athletics to a "professional" ambiance. I suspect we suffer the change, but we also can't do much about it. From state sponsored athletes which initiated the process to corporate sponsored athletes there really is little difference.
Meanwhile, though, why is it that we can determine scores down to three or four decimal places and STILL get the most banal of sports announcers??
A sports summary:
Archery: With the advent of carpal tunnel, my archery days are done.
Vicarious re-inactment could be at hand, if only the sport would be shown.
For the Robin Hood at heart.
Running: Especially in the longer runs, this is most exciting to watch
near the end of races. Both you and the runners at the head of the pack know
that this is The Moment, and a lot of "upsets" can happen then. Some of the
women runners from African countries experienced a lot of negativity in
cultures where they were expected to marry young and put aside such
ambitions, and so I hope they do well.
Long jump, pole vault, javelin toss, shotput, discus throw: The old standby Olympic games, without which the Olympics would just be another excuse to hawk products.
Badminton: Extremely fun to do, but I'd imagine it would be like tennis
Baseball: A cure for insomnia in the best of times. The fact that the US
team is highly favored may mean a fair bit of this, unless the network thinks
the viewing public is bored by league baseball already. One good fallout
from the baseball strike of a year or so ago. An interesting question if trapped in
a game: do Olympic baseball players chew tobacco like their Major League counterparts?
Basketball: Since it's fast moving and the Americans may be favored to win
in both the women's and the men's divisions, expect to see a lot of it. Deal
with it. The American men's team makes the Olympics designation of amateur athletics a
terminal joke, and I hope they LOSE!!!
Boxing: The "bread and circuses" of the Roman era, updated. Ptui. One of
these days there may well be an "Extreme Fighting" Olympic event.
Canoe/Kayak: I really don't know how they plan to run these events. The
slalom should be exciting to watch, probably if you have tickets to see it.
As a sometimes-kayaker who loves to watch sports (for the grace of it)
conducted on/in water, this could be interesting, if we the TV crowd get to
Cycling: Mountain biking should at least afford the viewer distant panoramic
vistas to look at on occasion.
Diving: A good dive is indeed a work of art, physically and aesthetically.
Equestrian: Foreign horses carrying piroplasmosis, a tick-borne disease, are
being allowed entry into this country to compete. Think about it.
Meanwhile, if one is afforded a good view, this could be interesting to
watch from the equine point of view.
Fencing: For the wannabe swashbucklers. I used to be in the Society for
Creative Anachronism, so lots of my friends are/were wannabe swashbucklers,
and even though fencing uses different styles of swashing and buckling, this
still could be interesting, if we ever get to see it.
Football: Soccer to us Americans, but the Real Thing for the rest of
the world. I probably should watch it once, since I
missed the World Cup when it was played here. But of course that sounds more
like a duty than pleasure.
Gymnastics: I'm more interested in the Artistic than the Rhythmic
gymnastics. Agility, grace and movement, none of which I possess. Well, I
do move a bit.
Handball: Why bother?
Hockey: I HATED and LOATHED field hockey in high school. You think I'm
gonna sit around and WATCH it, too?
Judo: I have no idea what to expect. Probably not a kung-fu film,
but who knows?
Modern Pentathalon: All five events will be held on the same day, so as to
tire out the participants, if not the viewers. The idea of well-rounded
athletes appeals. But probably not to the extent of watching.
Opening Ceremonies: Let's see who can outdo whom in sartorial gaudiness.
Amusing in spurts if one doesn't take the international oneupmanship stuff
too seriously. After all, no medals are awarded for this event.
Rowing: Potentially interesting. In one of the few human-interest notes
here, I admire the Canadian Silken Laumann, who won awards in the sport a few
weeks after a severe, serious leg injury.
Shooting: I used to shoot soda cans as a kid. Watching other people shoot
soda cans was not all that exciting, except when the soda can went high up in
the air. I never did get the hang of clay pigeons. Will pass.
Softball: See baseball. So the women
throw the ball differently -- same sport.
Tennis: I've seen snippets of enough tennis matches to never want to handle
a racket. Will pass.
Volleyball: Another sport gone with the advent of carpal tunnel. Not
exactly a "watching" sport, but better as a "doing" sport. (I've enjoyed
playing some sports in teams, but for some reason watching team sports is
usually not so interesting.)
Water Polo: I'd like to see this. Why water polo, I hear you ask. Oh, it's
just curiousity. I want to see grown men cavort and splash around in a pool
like water buffalo doing for points what the rest of us just do for fun.
Besides, in the hot Atlanta summer, they gotta be cool.
Weight Lifting: I've got some rocks around here that need moving (this being
New England and all). Watching overmuscled men grunting and defeating their
Dial while lifting things aptly called "dumbbells" fails to appeal.
Wrestling: The only way two scantily clad men with Minoxitil-greased legs
can come into sanctioned intimate contact is to be simultaneously trying to
rip the other's head off. The world can get things a bit backwards.
Yachting: Actually, I have a certain fondness for this one, but again I'd
rather be doing (could I afford it) than watching.
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Last Updated: Saturday, June 29, 1996