The Not So Flattering Side of the Olympics – Dave’s Top 5
I love the idea of the Olympic Games. I’m a traditional sports fan (football, baseball, some basketball only), but the Olympic Games has the ability to catch my attention and make me watch sports I wouldn't normally watch if you paid me. Every four years, I watch swimming, track and field, gymnastics, volleyball and even caught some team archery (how about them South Koreans?). I even watch the Opening Ceremony. But after watching the Games on its first weekend in Great Britain, I have some issues I need to air about what I’m seeing this time around. So here's my top 5 least flattering parts of the Olympics.
Opening Ceremonies are a time-honored tradition that I always look forward to. It’s practically a Cliff’s Notes history lesson on every country that participates in the Olympics. But this year, it seemed as if the athletes were in a speed walking competition, and Bob Costas and Matt Lauer were scrambling to share highlights about athletes and the nations they represent. I realize that Queen Elizabeth II’s bit with James Bond was a fun and interesting way to get things started, but did it take away from the time spent on tradition for the ceremony? Slow it down, and let me get my education. I had to Google to find that the above photo was the Kiribati Olympic team, and find out that it's official name is the Republic of Kiribati, and is an island nation located in the central tropical Pacific Ocean. Come on already.
I heard the explanation. Only two athletes from each country are allowed to advance to the individual finals. Whatever. It just so happens that three Americans are three of the best in the world. What good does it serve the Games to keep a defending world champion athlete out of medal contention because she’s on a really, really good team? This isn't tee ball, and these aren't 6 year old kids who don't keep score. It's sad that one person left out of the finals is head-and-shoulders above most of those who made the medal round. This sounds like Major League Baseball’s rule that every team has to be represented in the All Star Game, only on a global scale. I’m trying to imagine a dumber rule, but I can’t.
I'm sure it's because there aren't enough countries that play the sport, but worldwide interest would grow enormously if the Olympics would hold a golf tournament. I’m not the biggest golf fan, but how cool would it be for the Olympics to have a golf tournament? Maybe I’m wondering this purely from a marketing standpoint, but imagine how much additional buzz would be gained by having Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson represent the red, white and blue against the world’s greatest? I know golf already has the Ryder Cup and the President’s Cup, but these are The Olympic Games! Tennis has a similar season to golf, and they’re able to pull it off. Maybe I’m alone in this one.
I know when Nadia Comaneci scored the first “perfect 10” in 1976, and Mary Lou Retton did so in ’84 to win the gold, it was an enormous deal. What is a perfect score now? I watched hours of gymnastics over the weekend, but still can’t figure out what is the best possible score an athlete can receive. I think a perfect score may be 16, but I don't know. I tried to blame the metric system, but it’s not at fault. Some yahoo in the International Gymnastics Federation decided the scoring system wasn’t confusing enough, so now we have scores like 15.325, which I guess is pretty good. For someone as mathematically challenged as me, guessing at something like this doesn’t tend to end well. I don’t want to guess anymore. Bring back the “perfect 10”!
I have to deal with drooping drawers in every other aspect of life. Why on the Olympic men’s swimming team? Pull up your pants, fellas. And, was that a lower back tattoo (a.k.a. a "tramp stamp") on one of the members of the French men's 4x100 relay? Wow.