Monday, August 25, 2008

Weekend Assignment #230: Olympic ceremony

As the closing ceremonies of the 2008 Olympic Games approached this weekend, Karen asked:
Weekend Assignment #230: Have you been watching the Olympics? If so, what have you particularly enjoyed? If not, then what, if anything, would entice you to watch?

Extra Credit: Is there a sport not in the Olympics that ought to be there?
I think this is the first time in several (leap) years I've watched very little of the Olympics on TV, nor have I made much of an effort to follow the news reports from it (not that it's required much effort, really).

As far as TV viewing is concerned, I've usually found the events in the Winter Games more interesting to watch. Ice skating (not ice dancing), ski jumping, speed skating, bobsledding - those sports are just more fun for me. But I'm not that interested in gymnastics, don't really enjoy watching people run, and really can't see much happening in the swimming matches (due to that whole bodies-immersed-in-water thing), so the Summer Games are not as compelling as a spectator event for me.

Even if the sports had more appeal to me, I feel that the way the TV coverage is done detracts from the games themselves. I don't really enjoy the "USA vs. the world" angle; isn't it "every country in the world vs. each other," really? The soft-focus human-interest stories about the favored athletes have become joke fodder rather than interesting background. There's also the manufactured drama of saving certain events for prime-time evening viewing when the results have already been all over the news. And by the end of the Games, I had lost patience with reporters saying that an athlete had "settled for a silver (medal)." Granted, maybe that does feel like "settling" in our everything-or-nothing, winning-is-everything culture, but a silver means you're second best in the entire world. Why is that a bad thing?

However, my lack of involvement in this year's Olympics surprised me a little, because I've been to the Olympics - the Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta, in 1996. After that, I thought I would be an Olympics fan for life.

We were living a day's drive from Atlanta at the time, and we had family there we could stay with. We also had a good friend from Los Angeles who had been at the 1984 Games there, and he swore that they were a don't-miss opportunity; he was planning to come across the country to Atlanta so that he could actually have this once-in-a-lifetime experience twice. We spent four days at the Games during their first week, and attended four indoor-volleyball matches and one water-polo match. First Husband picked the events, and he's a volleyball fan. (His second wife is an ex-volleyball player, as a matter of trivia...) It was a good choice of sport, though - the venue was small enough to have a good view of the action, and it was more fun to watch in person than it would have been on TV.

Earlier that same year, we had the chance to see the US Olympic baseball team in one of their exhibition games; their training facility was located just north of Memphis, and since we wouldn't be seeing them play in Atlanta, we wanted to take advantage of the chance to see them locally. Baseball and softball will both be off the roster for the 2012 Games, as Karen mentioned in her response to this Assignment, and I agree with her that this is a disappointment (I've heard they could be back in 2016, though). There have been long-fought campaigns to make ballroom dancing and contract bridge Olympic sports (yes, I'm serious about bridge; I used to work for an organization that was lobbying for its inclusion, among its other activities), but I don't really think either belongs there. A few weeks ago, my husband made a strong case for some additions to the Games, particularly Mario Kart for the Nintendo Wii, miniature golf, and cat bathing.

Did you have Olympic fever this year, or did it pass you by?
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  1. I like the winter games better, too. More speed, more excitement, more wipeouts. :) Seriously, most of the sports in the winter games are morei
    interesting, except curling. What the heck is that about?

  2. I hadn't expected to be bitten by the Olympic Fever bug this year, but I was. I was glued to my TV every night, catching up on what I'd missed during the day. I prefer the Summer Olympics to the Winter--probably in part becaue I am not a cold sport fan. I've always lived in warm climate areas. And the summer sports appeal to me more because they are familiar to me, some I have played before myself.

    I think golf would be a good addition to the Olympics. Not that I would watch. I'm not particularly a fan of the sport, but it is played around the world. I think I'd heard that it was once included, but I could be wrong about that.

    Someone interviewed on TV suggested skatboarding be added on. It was interesting watching the BMX competitions this year. I think my husband most enjoyed those--second to Women's Beach Volleyball, that is. ;-)

  3. Mike - Bobsled crashes and ski-jump tumbles. Hey, what could be better :-)? And yes, someone really needs to explain the deal with curling. Stickball on skates, or what?

    Literary Feline - If snowboarding is in the Winter Games, why not add skateboarding to the Summer ones? Give them some of that X-Games flavor. And I've actually enjoyed watching beach volleyball in person in the South Bay (Manhattan and Hermosa Beaches) - not specifically the women's game, though...

    As I said, I'm still a bit surprised at myself for not getting into it much this year.

  4. It passed me by. They talked about and showed W way too often that first weekend, and that just completely turned me off the whole thing. 148 days left...

  5. I got caught up in the Michael Phelps drama and loved it!! Otherwise, I missed many of the events I would normally watch -- diving, gymnastics. But I agree -- I heard an announcer the other day talking about the disappointing finish when an athlete received a bronze medal. crazy.


  6. I enjoyed the floor gymnastic routines.

    littleminx at cox dot net

  7. I like the Olympics and got caught up in it, but only insofar as I started reading the sports section. I can't stand watching - there are way too many commericials!!

  8. April - Are you crossing the days off on the calendar? Too bad that killed it for you. Better luck in 2012, let's hope!

    Lori - I really just don't get that. It's a medal. You're one of the top three - why not appreciate having that?

    Rebekah - I tend to like the equipment events a little better, especially the uneven and parallel bars. But I can't imagine having that level of physical coordination :-)!

    Magpie - The biggest problem with live TV, definitely. I'd usually rather read about these things anyway, and then maybe see the video later, but I'm kind of strange that way.

  9. It's neat that you got to go to the Atlanta one, and I agree that it shouldn't be covered through a nationalist, winning is everything lens. On the other hand,, that's what humans do, unfortunately.

  10. Karen - Sad but true; it's just frustrating to me sometimes. Then again, that's sports, I suppose - it really IS all about winning and losing.

  11. I'm with you. Winter Olympics is best (when you're watching it in a nice warm room on a large TV set and not out in the numbing cold)

  12. Kiva - Not that we have to worry about the numbing winter cold quite so much around here, do we?


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