I Love the Olympics

Jerry Coyne has a sourpuss post up about his lack of enthusiasm for the Olympics:

This year, I can’t get energized at all. I watch the highlights on the evening news, but the revelation that Phelps has become the most decorated Olympian of all time leaves me cold. And I never watch the evening’s recaps.

I’m wondering if it’s just me, and I’ve simply lost interest, or whether the games themselves have become tepid and, as they get more “professional”—with fancy training, paid athletes, and the like—they’ve just gotten more boring. Reader opinion is welcome.

Well, I know for a fact that it’s not just him. But it certainly isn’t me, because I love the Olympics. I can’t get enough of them.

I especially like seeing all the obscure sports that you only get to see once every four years. I watched archery the other day. It was fascinating! I wish one of the commentators would have explained what all the doodads were on the bow. That hardware they were using was way more complicated than those simple bows we used in high school.

I’ve heard all the complaints. NBC has a stranglehold on the television coverage and isn’t presenting enough things live. Their human interest pieces are insipid. There are all sorts of drug and cheating scandals. It’s all about jingoism and flag-waving. It provides a stage on which despotic countries can look good. Blah blah blah. Don’t care.

I have the television on in the background as I write this. I just watched Kayla Harrison of the U. S. win the gold medal in judo. Judo! It was thrilling. And that’s what it comes down to. I like watching the best athletes in the world competing in exciting sports to which they have devoted so much of their lives.

So lighten up folks, and just take some satisfaction in seeing what the human body can be made to do.

Comments

  1. #1 eric
    August 2, 2012

    The streaming is clunky, sometimes choppy, and the interface isn’t the best, but all that said…great great great. Lets me come home from work and watch whatever I want. I basically don’t watch the network any more, just use the streaming.

  2. #2 Jason Rosenhouse
    Harrisonburg, VA
    August 2, 2012

    I like the surprise of not knowing what I’m going to see until I turn on the TV. I’m usually not looking for a specific event, I just want to see something!

  3. #3 FTFKDad
    August 2, 2012

    a few days old now, and cut and paste from Roger Ebert’s hilarious description of the opening ceremony:

    “At the north end of the stadium, a gigantic mountain has been erected, and the farmers and peasants are marching up its slopes. Now comes a dancing corps of men in top hats and mutton chops! The dancers continue their merry steps around the May Pole, and…good gravy, ladies and gentlemen, a helicopter has appeared in the sky, and it looks like…yes! James Bond and Queen Elizabeth have just parachuted into the stadium!”

    … and what’s not to love about the greatest celebration of sporting prowess and youth (and sometimes age!) in every sport you’ve never watched in the last 4 years!

  4. #4 Verbose Stoic
    August 3, 2012

    I tend to like good stories in my sporting events, and there are still a lot of great stories in this year’s Olympics, and maybe more than there have been in the past — including the cheating and doping comments. And being Canadian, I get more of them from around the world than you poor Americans do, since you’re in contention in every event and we aren’t, so we have the freedom to talk about other countries every now and then [grin].

  5. #5 Zme
    August 3, 2012

    I find the NBC “coverage” a waste of time…with the adverts, teasers, up-close-and-personal segments, postmortems and outright jingoism there is very little left for sports coverage.

    I found a free VPN (Expat Shield) which lets me watch the BBC streaming coverage (both live and recorded) with intelligent commentary. No commercials. No teasers. No sob-stories. No postmortems. A little jingoism…AND NO BOB COSTAS.

    The Olympics has become interesting again.

  6. #6 Raging Bee
    Here
    August 3, 2012

    It provides a stage on which despotic countries can look good.

    Not this time. We’ve caught up to the Chinese in the medal-race, it looks like they’re still recovering from that controversy about all their too-young-looking gymnasts, and there’s that bit about how one of their medalists was kept in a bubble where she didn’t hear of her grandparents’ death and her mother’s cancer until over a year later.

    Then there’s Russia, whose gymnasts seemed to all be falling and fumbling right and left — the perfect metaphor for their politics.

    And what other despotic countries have we even heard of this time? Did Nortk Korea get any medals yet?

  7. #7 Area Man
    August 3, 2012

    “It’s all about jingoism and flag-waving.”

    This kind of attitude baffles me. The Olympics are the one time when the world gets together, puts aside its differences, and competes in sporting events that celebrate human athleticism. This is the one context in which flag-waving and national pride are perfectly appropriate. Lighten up, people.

  8. #8 MartyM
    August 3, 2012

    What gets me about NBC’s coverage is that I can’t recall seeing a medal ceremony where Americans were not getting the gold metal.

    The other night Danell Levya won all around bronze in gymnastics and they didn’t show his metal ceremony.

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    August 3, 2012

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  11. #11 JimV
    August 4, 2012

    I would like to see more medals, down to 4th and 5th place (as long as some minimum number of countries are competing in the event). If you’ve practiced for years, get a chance once every four years to win a medal, and finish 4th or 5th in the world, you shouldn’t go away feeling like a loser.

    New medal metals: mithril and unobtainium? Okay, no. Iridium and vanadium?

  12. #12 Lenoxus
    August 4, 2012

    My Olympics attitude is neutral.

  13. #13 KeithB
    August 6, 2012

    martyM:
    They showed the men’s tennis award with nary an American in sight.

  14. #14 Matty
    August 7, 2012

    I used to watch basketball. I don’t now. I just don’t see the point of watching what is essentially an extended NBA all-star game. Most of the competitive teams have at least three NBA players. Forget the US Olympic basketball team. I am starting to get that way about tennis too. The gold medal round for the men was just a Wimbledon rematch. I agree that the less publicized sports are fun, but you have to search for them. I enjoy watching people in their prime showcase their athletic skills, but I think that my meh feeling comes from the fact that there really are no amateurs left in most of the Olympic events. I eagerly await the coming of sponsor patches on the uniforms.

  15. #15 eric
    August 7, 2012

    I eagerly await the coming of sponsor patches on the uniforms.

    The Italian fencing uniforms had a patch on the back shoulder which I swear looks like two of those naked-women-mudflap images from the ’70s. I have no idea what the patch actually is, they never show a close-up. But I can’t believe they are actually that. :)

  16. #16 Phil A
    Chile
    August 9, 2012

    I too am perplexed by the stabilizers and adjusters on Olympic archery bows. As far as I can tell from watching NatGeo there are still parts of the world where indigenous people hunt very effectively with basic wooden bows. It would still be the same test of skill surely, if Olympic archers had to use basic bows. (basic, but standardized, of course)

  17. #17 cynic
    UK
    August 10, 2012

    Man, I love the Olympics. This is mostly because it’s like BBCTV has gone on a get-fit, detox regime for 2 weeks. But like most diets that make you feel better for a while, you know that the ‘high-fat’, ‘life-limiting’ habits of celebrity tv and no-talent, reality-shows will soon return and probably be even more pervading than before.

  18. #18 cynic
    UK
    August 10, 2012

    Eric, your eyes don’t deceive you. The Kappa logo is of two naked people (man and woman) back-to-back. I would say, however, that it is a fairly well known brand in Europe and has been around for about 40 plus years; long enough for us to get over sniggering about it.

  19. #19 Alex SL
    August 10, 2012

    Well, I don’t have a TV anymore so I am not watching them anyway, but I never developed any interest in the Olympics even in my youth. I agree with how fun obscure sports can be (Sumo FTW!), but still much prefer the championships of any individual sport as opposed to the mercilessly over-kill, over-commercialized and over-hyped Olympics any day.