I am generally not hugely enthusiastic about the Olympics, and I really wasn’t following the run-up to the Beijing games this year. The games turn out to be great mindless distraction while SteelyKid is between feedings, though, so I’ve ended up seeing a fair amount of them. I know you’re dying to hear my comments, so:
— There’s this kid for the US, a swimmer, something Phelps? You may not have heard this, but he’s pretty good…
— Nobody who has met me will mistake me for a great runner, but I was on the track team in high school, so I have some small appreciation for track and field events. Usain Bolt’s victory in the 100 meters was one of the most impressive things I’ve ever seen– he shattered his own world record, while high-stepping across the line and thumping his chest.
The only other time I’ve seen a margin of victory like that was when Ben Johnson was on the juice. It’s a sad commentary on modern sports than I can’t help wondering if Bolt is on something.
— Thanks to NBC’s policy of exhaustive coverage of sports Americans are good at, we’ve seen a good amount of beach volleyball. Which has produced some pretty entertaining moments– the comeback from being down 6-0 in the third set was cool.
I share Matt’s curiosity, though– do indoor and beach volleyballers make fun of each other? How?
— Why do they have tennis and soccer in the Olympics, anyway? The tennis players play each other all the time, anyway, so there’s nothing new or unique about the matches, and soccer already has a bunch of national-team championships. They both take forever, and tie up tv minutes that could go to something we don’t already see on tv every week.
— Speaking of things that I don’t want to see on tv, I could really do without three hours a night of gymnastics coverage. Diving, too, for that matter, though at least the competitors in women’s diving look like healthy adults.
In the end, judged sports are rubbish. This is also why I don’t like college football.
— All the “Michael Phelps is the greatest Olympian ever” blather is starting to trigger my contrarian impulses. Yeah, he’s won more golds than anybody else, but he has the good fortune to compete in a sport that gives him lots of opportunities to win medals, both individually and in relays. And really, he seems to mostly just swim the butterfly and the freestyle.
If you want to start up “greatest athlete” talk, I’m probably more impressed by people who do a wider range of things. You never hear about the decathlon any more, because there aren’t any Americans who do it really well, but on some level, isn’t being able to do that wide range of things more impressive?