Aug 24, 2008

(Olympic) Gold Farming

I love the Olympics, which is why it saddens me that we're wrapping up the 29th Olympiad.

It's odd that once every 4 years I start to care about sports I wouldn't even be caught dead watching. Suddenly, gymnastics is exciting and I pretend I know what people are doing what flips and spins and... I don't know, lutzes? Watching Olympic ping-pong gives a zen-like feeling, with you and the camera surreally calm and centered in around all the chaos. Weightlifting was intense. And why was I watching field hockey at 3 in the morning? Or, for that matter, why was I watching horse jumping at all?

Through all of it I kept chanting, if only in the back of my mind, "USA! USA! USA!". It was like some kind of patriotic heartbeat that was ever present the entire Olympic games. It's strange - can someone explain to me why? WebMD isn't turning up anything...

NBC's coverage of the event was awesome. My only gripe was they (understandably) gravitated to the US events, but I would have loved to see some of the events we weren't really competing for - those shooting events that got almost no coverage would have been interesting to watch. But other than that I thought they did a great job not just showing events, but explaining them as well. To most American viewers, we don't know the first thing about some sports (diving, gymnastics, water polo, etc), and the commentators did a great job of making sure us simple folk could follow along.

Also, not once did NBC ever make a protesting Tibetan monk/Olympic torch joke that Beijing naturally lent itself to. Classy bunch of folks, they are.

There were plenty of things to be proud of at these Olympics. Michael Phelps winning 8 gold medals, two of them miraculously, is something I likely will never see again in my lifetime. Dara Torres, a 41 (!) year old woman, turned in a unbelievable silver medal performance. The Redeem Team put men's USA basketball back into gold medal position. There is too much to count - USA earned the most total medals (110), each with it's own story.

USA did however come in second overall, losing to China who had fewer (100), but many more gold, medals. We'll get them next time around... bring on Vancouver!

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