Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The Olympics? Again?

Really, where have the four years gone? Friday is the gala opening ceremonies of the Olympics which is really the Orange Bowl halftime show but with many nations. All that will be missing is Micahel Buble singing “One moment in time”. But it is fun to watch with your kids…until you ask them where some of these countries are. Many American students today can’t even tell you where Canada is, so good luck asking if they’ve ever heard of Lesotho.

Since the Olympics are in Beijing, China (no kids, that’s not in Europe) a lot of the televised events will be tape delayed in America, which is confusing on the one hand but a great way to get rich on the other. Just get the results on-line then bet your friends. I can’t tell you how much money I made last time on the Equestrian events alone!

Personally, I root for the athletes of the dinky countries (home to most of my blog readers). I say “Go Kyrgyzstan! On Tuvalu! Let’s hear it for Qatar! Hail Hail Freedonia!

I love that once every four years these dots on the map can send their best three or four guys to compete with the world.

You do have to wonder however, what kind of TV coverage they have in these tiny nations. While we get thousands of hours on multiple channels and endless streaming I imagine Kyrgyzstan just gave high jumper Tatyana Efimenko a camera-phone and said shoot what you can. (She’s pretty hot by the way.)

You gotta love the little guys. After Puerto Rico stomped our dream team don’t you wish that Togo had a men’s basketball squad?

And talk about a story to inspire the human spirit -- What if, somehow, just somehow Tatyana Efimenko or Oksana Hatamkhanova won a Gold Medal?

It would be like the time the US won one in the Winter Olympics.


Anonymous said...

Impressive as the Fredonia team is, expect Klopstokia to dominate in track again.

But then, the Chinese sprinters may be surprising in The 100 Yard Mine field Dash for Freedom.

I think that it will be after the Olympics aer over, when athletes and journalists are home, free from Chinese censorship, that we will get the really interesting stories.

Watching this brutal, monstrously evil government try to use the Olympics to sell themselves as just the swell sort of great place you wish you lived in should be a trip, like a return to the Nazi Olympics of 1936.

TCinLA said...

Hail Hail Freedonia!

Not to mention the Jamaican bobsled team, definitely one of the more wonderful things to happen at the Olympics ever.

I always hark back to the first movie Robert Redford made when they allowed him to make what he wanted, following the success of "Butch Cassidy": Downhill Racer, a movie that has only gotten better over the years as it is the first introduction of the kind of SportzSchmuck one now finds at the top of all sports, but most particularly the Olympics. The attitudes of his team mates about sportsmanship and being loyal to "the game" seem almost quaint after 40 years of the Republican Assholeization of sports (and everything else).

The only way to watch the Olympics without throwing up is to have cable and watch any channel not American. "USA! USA!" is too reminiscent of "Sieg Heil! Sieg Heil!!" for this old-fashioned sports fan.

Anonymous said...

Nice post. Btw were aware that the ancient Olympics captured the imaginations of the Greeks for more than a millennium until a Christianized Rome put a stop on the competitions in the fourth century AD. But the Olympic ideal did not die. Anyways which country do you think will win the maximum gold medals?

Anonymous said...

OK, first let me say that I’ve been on the Lesotho and -- if you must know -- also Tuvalu for several years now, and find they really even out my moods. Also keep me relatively regular. The only side effect I notice is occasionally passing out in the middle of instant messaging somebody, then awakening to see something like “kyrGiStaN” on the monitor screen after my head has landed squarely in the middle of the keyboard. Kelly Pickler for color commentary!

What Summer Olympics events do you think shouldn’t count as a sport at all? One of my kids has this theory that something should only be considered a sport that involves opposing players, and where something either player or either team does directly affects the performance of the other player. You know, like baseball, football…the sex olympics.

I know we all feel that way about synchronized swim and that thing they do waving those long ribbons around like July 4th sparklers, linking all those sequential impressions on your retina. But I think he primarily has it in for gymnastics. I’m not certain whether that’s because he likens it to dancing or because in the winter he’s seen other short people do the same thing on skates. Think he’s reassessing now that I’ve pointed out that would eliminate all swimming, running, hurdling, weight lifting, shot putting, discus, javelin – and that he’s pretty much wiped out most of the sports in the world with a single nuclear generalized fallacy.

Any sports you think are way out of their league in Beijing? Any weird combination sports like the winter biathlon, which I believe is so called because it allows one to compete against both men and women as the mood strikes you? I know there’s a summer biathlon that combines long distance running and shooting (although shooting while running would be so much more challenging, not to mention exciting); but frankly, I don’t care enough to Google whether or not that’s in the Olympics.

Are there any other weird combination events, especially where at least one of the skills shouldn’t even be called a sport -- like maybe fishing from the high diving platform then executing a perfect half-Louganis after landing a striped bass?

And while you're at it, although not an Olympic event, will somebody please explain the attraction of those Put-Put miniature golf courses where they have all the kitschy figures and objects beside what are essentially eighteen of the same plywood greens, one after another, rather than as obstacles to be negotiated like real miniature golf?

I'm guessing they must be designed for actual golfers practicing their short game. But c’mon, if you’re that serious about the game do you really need molded plastic giraffes, gorillas, and dinosaurs in your field of vision to, as they say, keep it real? You want in on the office pool – how long before somebody goes for the Olympic gold in video gaming? If you can have multiple running and swimming events – each with the contestants doing pretty much the same thing with only minor variations – imagine the number of video game events you could pack into this sucker?

Unknown said...

It's time to study Chinese~ We can get into the Olympic spirit by studying the Chinese language! Understand the craziness on the walls!

Anonymous said...

"Hail Hail Freedonia!"


VP81955 said...

D. McEwan said...
Impressive as the Fredonia team is, expect Klopstokia to dominate in track again.

If the women's track team resembles clones of Lyda Roberti, who will complain?

Anonymous said...

D. McEwan said:

> Watching this brutal,
> monstrously evil
> government try to use the
> Olympics to sell
> themselves as just
> the swell sort of great
> place you wish you lived
> in should be a trip, like
> a return to the Nazi
> Olympics of 1936.

You're absolutely correct.

I personally am so angry at NBC-Universal for enabling these bastards that I'll be damned before I watch one minute of coverage, even the gymnastics which I love, and contribute to a fraction of a ratings point.

Anonymous said...

The Olympics are an anachronism. Giving them to a government like China's and then agreeing to the Internet censorship for the press covering it, etc. demonstrates that the idea is dying.

here in Chicago, His Teflon Corruptness is pushing for the 2016, knowing what a public works bonanza it will be for his buddies in the construction business.


Anonymous said...

The Olympics died more than a decade ago. The Internet killed them and Bob Costas' endless stories about some pole vaulter's childhood trauma shoveled dirt on their grave. Why watch when you know who won? And why watch the annoying coverage of every athlete's life story? The last good Olympics was Seoul. Personally, I'm upgrading my Netflix subscription. BTW, I like Bob Costas' show on HBO and his baseball coverage, but the Olympics just gives him way too much time to bore the pants off the viewers.

Anonymous said...

The Olympics are the only sporting competition where there is a event for dancing with a cat toy.

Rays profile said...

I can't wait for the dissident javelin catch.

Personally, I just watch to root against Trinidad and Tobago. I don't think it's fair as all the other countries have to play by themselves.

I miss ABC and Jim McKay.

Emily Blake said...

My favorite moment in the Olympics ever was - I think it was in Sydney - when this African swimmer from some itty bitty nation was swimming his qualifying heat and the other two swimmers jumped the gun so he swam all by himself.

He had never swum the length of the pool before. Ever.

So he swims down the lane and the handful of spectators who couldn't get better tickets at 8 am are getting a little excited because he starts getting tired. And he's struggling so hard and every single person in the audience starts to cheer him on. And he keeps going, and you can just tell he's barely hanging in there, and people are standing and shouting at this point and then he finally reaches the end.

And I think those people made more noise for that little dude's personal victory than they ever did for Michael Phelps and his gazillion medals. And he was so happy just to finish.

It made me pretty weepy.

Anonymous said...

"Emily Blake"'s anecdote shows why the Olympics (and many major league sports) are a joke.

Once upon a time, the Olympics were for amateurs. "Say, you're pretty good. You should be in the Olympics". And the person would buff up a bit in their spare time from the day job and go to the stadium.

In the modern era, the athletes of major countries are enaged in a battle of wits finding performance enhancers that will get by the drug screeners while training 83 hours per week.

The little guy from Freedonia could be my neighbour. The major athlete is some sort of robot creature feature.

Mary Stella said...

a. buck short said:
. . .and that thing they do waving those long ribbons around like July 4th sparklers

That would be "Rhythmic Gymnastics" which would be a much better name for the sex olympics.

Charles Jurries said...

For the "little guys" without a NBC or BBC to cover the Olympics for them, the Olympic Committee approved YouTube as a official global partner. (No joke.) They will be uploading videos constantly, but, you have to live in a country without a Olympic affiliate in order to watch.

Anonymous said...

Ken wrote:

"Kyrgyzstan just gave high jumper Tatyana Efimenko a camera-phone and said shoot what you can. (She’s pretty hot by the way.)"

And, she's throwing down the hand sign for the Kyrgyzstan version of 'the shocker' in her picture.

gwangung said...

Once upon a time, the Olympics were for amateurs.

In modern times, maybe.

In classical times? Probably not.

Cap'n Bob said...

The Olympics will never be valid until they incorporate bowling. Added points for which team eats the most pizza and drinks the most beer during a match.

Seriously, I'd like to see a way to eliminate all subjective scoring in events like gymnastics and skating. Maybe an applause meter.

Anonymous said...


I suspected that you would be among the elite who would understand my deliberately-unexplained Klopstokia reference. And you upped the ante with Lydia Roberti, The Woman No Man Can Resist: the original performance-enhancing drug.

The well-publicized Chinese air pollution is having another effect, the revival of all the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics Air Pollution jokes. Last week I heard David Letterman say how, when an athlete was practising in Bejing, he threw the javelin into the air - and it stuck. I must have heard that one at The Comedy store 100 times between 1980 and 1984. Even Letterman admitted it was a pretty elderly joke.

I've yet to hear anyone say: "Olympics in China? Look at the air. The fact that you CAN look at the air tells you something." but then, I haven't been watching Leno. (And it may well have been Jay Leno I heard tell that joke 50 times in 1981. I can't remember who goes with what joke after all this time.)

I never fully understood how - or why for that matter - the Olympics ever survived 1972 and The Munich Massacre.

Novelist Dan Simmons, in a magnificnet historical essay just written about The Nazi Olympics of 1936, had this to say about Munich in '72, in part. For his very illuminating full essay, use this link:

...The response of the International Olympic Committee at the time was, I thought, almost as bad as the massacre.

Avery Brundage, head of the IOC, suspended the Games for one day – September 5 (the helicopter and corpses were still smoking) – and then made a speech praising the strength of the Olympic movement in which the murdered Israelis were hardly mentioned. For that, judge for yourself –

"Every civilized person recoils in horror at the barbarous criminal intrusion of terrorists into peaceful Olympic precincts. We mourn our Israeli friends [...] victims of this brutal assault. The Olympic flag and the flags of all the world fly at half mast. Sadly, in this imperfect world, the greater and the more important the Olympic Games become, the more they are open to commercial, political, and now criminal pressure. The Games of the XXth Olympiad have been subject to two savage attacks. We lost the Rhodesian battle against naked political blackmail. I am sure that the public will agree that we cannot allow a handful of terrorists to destroy this nucleus of international cooperation and goodwill we have in the Olympic movement. The Games must go on...."

Note that Brundage equates – “finds moral equivalance in” to use a current phrase – the boycott against Rhodesia (a racist apartheid state at the time) being included in the Olympics that year with the kidnapping and murder of eleven Israeli athletes.

And Brundage lied when he said “the flags of all the world fly at half mast.” During the memorial service, the Olympic Flag was flown at half-staff at the order of West German Chancellor Willy Brandt. Most of the other nations followed suit. But ten Arab nations and the Soviet Union insisted that their flags remain at full-staff. Brandt and Brundage complied. Those flags were fully visible flying at full-staff behind Brundage as he spoke in Munich that day.

The rest of the Israeli Olympic competitors had flown home by then and the victims’ families were represented at the memorial service by the widow of one of the victims and by Ankie Weinberg – mother of Moshe Weinberg, the wrestling coach who’d fought to save his guys in the Olympic apartments and whose corpse had been dumped out the window by the terrorists – and by Weinberg’s cousin, Carmel Eliash. During the memorial service, Eliash collapsed and died of a heart attack.

In the years since the Munich Massacre, some of the families of the victims have asked that the International Olympic Committee establish a permanent memorial to the murdered athletes, but the IOC has declined, saying that such a memorial “could alienate other members of the Olympic community.” The International Olympic Committee – as are the Summer and Winter Olympic Games – as we shall see, are totally above politics of any sort.

At any rate, my love of the Olympics died as I listened to that old anti-Semite Avery Brundage’s speech exalting the glories of youth and sport while never properly recognizing the innocent young men who had just died so horribly. “The Games must go on” my ass. As the Dutch distance runner Jos Hermens was quoted in Sports Illustrated that fall, “You give a party, and someone is killed at the party, you don’t continue the party. I’m going home.”


The most outspoken advocate of “Sports is above politics,” Avery Brundage, was President of the International Olympic Committee from 1952 to 1972. He opposed women in sports – saying in 1936, “"I am fed up to the ears with women as track and field competitors... her charms sink to something less than zero. As swimmers and divers, girls are [as] beautiful and adroit as they are ineffective and unpleasing on the track." Even after the decades of revelations of how Hitler and the Nazis had used the XIth Olympiad for their own propaganda purposes, Brundage continued to insist as late as 1971 – “"The Berlin Games were the finest in modern history...I will accept no dispute over that fact."

Okay, I'm back. Just something to think about while you watch the Rhythmic Sychronized Prancing-About, and the Silly Walks events.

As for me, well as usual, all I watch are the men's gymnastics and men's diving. Why do they bother with other sports? (Well sometimes I watch the Greco-Roman Wrestling, but you don't want to hear the two-word phrase I'm usually shouting while I watch. Let's just say the second word is "Him," and the first has four letters commencing with "F".)

Anonymous said...

Thank you, thank you d. Finally somebody has come along and allowed me to feel something I've never felt before -- succinct. :)

But dammit, now you've got me so riled I’m tossing all of my Avery Brundage sports memorabilia – including the autographed hemorrhoid cushion.

What’s troubling me most is, if this Beijing thing is the XXIX Olympics, does that mean the 30th in four years, XXL, would be only for plus-sized athletes, or is that just for commemorative T-shirts?

Personally, I find the thrill of athletic competition invigorating. In college basketball I had only one assignment. Whenever we were plumb out of time outs, the coach would put me in off the bench so that I could pretend to have lost a contact lens somewhere on the court. Generally good for at least 5 min.

Or as my self-esteem coach, Stuart Smalley might have said: “Buck, you’re good enough, you’re smart enough, but there’s no way in hell you’re athletic enough. Go for the bronze!"

Anonymous said...

Oh, btw, in case you're wondering why the 30th Olympics won't just be XXX? That is the Sex Olympics -- but I had no porn references suitable for this family blog.

Rays profile said...

A final note - my all-time favorite broadcasting moment was one of those sappy personal story bits. NBC was profiling a French runner and the reporter, in all seriousness, said:

"They call her 'La Gazelle,' which is French for 'The Gazelle.'"


Anonymous said...

Once upon a time, the Olympics were for amateurs.

For "amateurs", feel free to substitute "rich, white, upper-class men." Professionalism brings its own issues and problems to the Olympics, but one it does not bring is elitism as to anything other than athletic ability.

Anonymous said...

What the Olympics means to me is the $88 pre-paid Visa card I won in a sweepstakes tie-in

Anonymous said...

The Olympics have been "dead to me" since I figured out at a young age why we were sending unfunded amateurs (in most sports) up against the "students" and "army officers" of the iron curtain counries. After the modern games (quickly) got over being about training the upper class youth to be good soldiers. it's always been about money. It's a biennial festival of hypocrisy and greed, in which most of the actual competitors get next to nothing out of the pot of gold. Yeah, there are still wonderful athletic moments, but nowadays you never see them unless they involve adolescent gymnasts.

Anonymous said...

i hope our contestants will win the batlle... go go go!

Gridlock said...

"Personally, I root for the athletes of the dinky countries (home to most of my blog readers). I say “Go Kyrgyzstan! On Tuvalu! Let’s hear it for Qatar! Hail Hail Freedonia!"

I notice you haven't got Google Analytics installed - it's amazingly simple to install on Blogger (funnily enough) and you get great maps of where your readers are. I like to randomly link to Mauritanian bloggers and then watch excitedly as the whole online community there come flooding over.

Also, Google gives you complete lists of my previous Google searches, Amazon purchases, and lapsed subscriptions to Swedish porn sites.

Special bonus- I work with Google Analytics stuff all day, and when you minimize a spreadsheet from there or have it open in a tab on your browser, it generally reads "Google Anal.."

I'm glad my inner child is still alive.