Becoming a Podium Pundit
If medals were awarded for watching Olympics coverage, I’d win gold. Guaranteed. I’m an Olympics junkie. People who know me know I’ve never followed professional basketball or football (although I do like to watch the Super Bowl every year strictly for the commercials), and most baseball games can put me out faster than a Thanksgiving turkey stuffed with Ambien. But the Olympics? I’ll watch as much as I possibly can from every media source available.
The Winter Games are my favorite, but the Summer Games are a silver second in my personal rankings. Lest you think that watching the games is all about world harmony and appreciation of athletic prowess, for me it’s much more than that. Sure, I watch in awe of those teeny tiny gymnasts who are all focus and ferocity, flipping themselves over, under and above the mats, uneven bars and balance beams. And the runners and swimmers, divers and rowers are all just as thrilling and inspiring to watch.
But it’s also great fun to see a somewhat obscure sport (at least for the West Coast) like skeet/trap shooting capture brief worldwide attention. I cheered loudly for Southern California’s own Kimberly Rhode as she became the first American to medal in five consecutive Olympics by blasting past her competition to take the gold in Women’s Skeet. My shoulder hurt watching her score a near perfect 99 out of 100 hits on the clay targets, turning them into clouds of orange dust with each pull of her over-under shotgun’s trigger. And archery? Please. I was a huge fan of archery long before the “Hunger Games” made it a fad.
Athletic skills aside, I also get a kick out of watching moments like when one of those painfully young gymnasts says to an interviewer with the utmost of sincerity, “This is something I’ve been dreaming of all my life!” Really? All 15 years of it? That’s so cute.
I’m fascinated by the names of the athletes from around the world. For example, the Chinese trampoline champion (and gold medal winner) this year is named Dong Dong. No kidding. Now, how fun would it be if his sport was ping pong. I’d love to hear Al Michaels say, “And the gold medal winner in ping pong is Dong Dong.” Okay, so I’m also easily entertained.
There are some Olympic sports I couldn’t care less about, like basketball, soccer or tennis. We see more than enough of those sports throughout any given year. Did you really miss softball and baseball this year? Exactly. Unfortunately, in the next Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, golf will be a medal sport. Yawn. I’d much rather see competition in more obscure sports like skateboarding or even disc golf. Or why not ballroom dancing, for that matter? They already do essentially the same thing on ice skates during the Winter Games.
On the other hand, if there were an Olympic event for hair dying, NBC commentator Bob Costas would win the gold hands down. High definition TV cameras have not been kind to Mr. Costas.
As long as I’m handing out fantasy medals, I’d like to award the entire United States a gold for diversity. I honestly haven’t seen another country whose citizenry is represented by so many beautifully different faces. Case in point: the effervescent, ridiculously gifted Gabby Douglas and her coach. Pretty cool.
As with most Olympics, there was controversy before these summer games even started. But so what if Team USA’s uniforms were made in China? Ironically, many of China’s own athletes have been training right here in the U.S. (along with many other countries too – but more on that next week). And according to the Wall Street Journal, the Chinese athletes all wear U.S.-designed and engineered footwear and arrived at the London games on American-made airplanes. So, boo-yah. It’s a small world after all.
I’ll see you ‘round town.