Thursday, August 16, 2012

Olympics and other sports stuff

Ok the Olympics are over. Thank goodness. I watched some of the coverage only because I was trapped in a room at a B&B and I needed a break from reading (ok I really did want to turn it on). There were more commercials than Olympic coverage. NBC showed a few minutes of action and then we were sent back to the ads. Frustrating. Then, there were all the stories of overcoming something. If you were an athlete who never had to overcome something in your life to get to the Olympics, forget having your story told on the air. Sounds a bit cynical, I know, but come on just getting to the Olympics takes an Olympian effort. Then, there were all the individual stars who never got tired of talking about themselves and how great they are. I thought the point of the Olympics was competing for your team or your country. And what about the glorification of athletics itself as if working your tail off for four years (and being supported by someone while you do it) is the greatest good on earth. How many sad stories about athletes in other nations who are basically imprisoned in athletic camps for years so they can win Olympic gold? And what about the Gold. Why so many tears if someone only won silver and forget bronze - its an embarrassment. As usual, the Olympic coverage highlighted the best and the worst of athletic competition. Following on the slipstream of the Tour de France, cheating in sports was a common theme. While some cyclists were exposed for doping, and Lance Armstrong faces the fight of life over doping allegations, some Olympic athletes lost their medals after they tested positive for banned substances. This week pro baseball player Melky Cabrera who was a very average player for the Yankees and the Braves before having an MVP year with the Giants tested positive for testosterone. And believe it or not, there was a report today about cheating at the national scrabble championships - a player was pocketing blank tiles to play at opportune moments. Does our fascination with GOLD lead to cheating? A pro cyclist commenting on Lance Armstrong's upcoming trial said when all the athletes are so good it is a temptation to do whatever it takes to give you any kind of edge over the rest. Not everyone cheats but don't we fans bear some of the blame when all we cheer for are winners. I loved watching Oscar Pistorius run, and Manteo Mitchell finish his race on a broken leg! just to give his team a chance to run in the finals, and Gabby Douglas give it her all even when she didn't have it after she gave her all in the women's all around - full of joy and grace (and tweeting inspirational messages from the Bible), and the runner who came to race from no country, and like most people I was amazed at the speed of Usain Bolt, the endurance of the Kenyans and Ugandans, and the strength and fluid grace of the Flying Dutchman Epke Zonderland (what a great name). So you see even though this blog began on a cynical note - and there is much to be cynical about - it ends on a positive note - there is still much to love about athletic competition.