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?