August 6, 2012

Grade so far for the Olympics: B- (and that's grading on a curve)

The Summer Olympics are the second greatest sporting event in the world.  The first greatest is the University of Kentucky basketball team versus (insert any team here).  But the Summer Olympics are an extremely close second.  I’ve been waiting for the 2012 London Olympic games ever since Michael Phelps’ eighth appearance on the medal stand in Beijing in 2008.  The countdown has been on for the past four years.

I enjoy the Winter Olympics as well, but not to the degree of the summer games... I just can’t get into skiing and the luge... it looks too cold... and I don’t like being cold.  And Shaun White is no Ryan Lochte.  But the Summer Olympics are my Prozac... I am so happy for the two weeks of summer’s pure bliss.  My Summer Olympic obsession began in 1992.  I was 13.  It was the year of the Dream Team... the greatest team ever assembled in any sport... well, excluding Christian “I like to stomp on people’s chests” Laettner.  (As a side note, you need to you-tube the NBA-TV 20 year anniversary special on the Dream Team... I’ve watched it three times and my love for Charles Barkley increases ten fold with each viewing.  Chuck, keep your phone on... I may be calling if things don’t work out with Michael Phelps).  1996 was the year of Keri Strug’s vault landing that had me doing laps around my house in excitement.  And my love for these games just continued to grow.

So just imagine my sheer excitement when I sat down in front of my television last Friday night to watch the opening ceremony.  I can summarize the show with three words: WTF.  The show’s opening scene paid tribute to the England countryside, including the British version of Noah’s Ark: 10 ducks, 9 geese, 12 horses, 3 cows, 3 sheepdogs, and 70 sheep... 70 sheep?  A faux Queen Elizabeth arrived by parachute, hundreds of children jumped on beds, illuminated butterflies rode on bicycles, multiple Mary Poppins floated from the sky... and the randomness just continued.  Since I was watching by myself, I should have turned the opening ceremony into a drinking game to make it funner... and to pass what feels like eternity waiting for the US athletes to march out (why can't we just go by "America"?)
Take a sip for each time the announcer tells how much something costs, each time Kate Middleton is shown, each time the word “spectacular” is used, and every time an athlete is shown carrying a camera.  
Chug for each country with less than 7 athletes, for each spectator you see crying, and for every reference to the Beatles.
Take a shot for every country that you never knew existed and for each delegation with only one athlete.

On day one of the games, I woke up and watched the US archery team lose by one in a heartbreaker... wishing they had Katniss Everdeen on their team.  I’ve never been so excited and intense about an archery match.  Only in the Olympics.  Then I gained a new respect for the sport of water polo as I watched the athletes tread water for what seemed like hours (and a view of the USA bench was a very nice treat).  Then IT happened.  I opened my computer and went to google something random and up popped my homepage of with the headline “Lochte gold, Phelps fourth.”  I almost threw my computer across the room... the race wasn’t even airing on NBC for another five hours!  Between facebook, twitter, ESPN mobile, etc., it has been impossible for NBC to keep the results under lock and key until they air on delay... talk about ruining a surprise.  Why don’t they also air a commercial during Saturday morning cartoons revealing that Santa isn’t real?!

We all know the results of the games so far (and usually before they even aired), but here are some of the stories from this past week that have captivated me:

*The world was watching precious little 16 year-old Gabby Douglas convincingly win the gold in the gymnastics all-around and the topic of the night was... her hair??  My hair is always sweaty wet and with some nice frizz action after a run.  This little girl was flying in the air doing absolutely insane stunts with her body, and people at home WATCHING on their butts said she needed better hair??  Hair???  I’m pretty sure on a scale of 1 to 10, her hair was a zero on the priority list in her preps for the Olympics.  Lay off people... you may criticize Gabby’s hair... but do you want her criticizing your muscle tone?  

*The Badminton teams expelled from the Olympics were a very interesting story.  First of all, how the heck is badminton an Olympic sport (don’t even get me started about jumping on a trampoline being a sport).  Regardless, a few Badminton teams purposely lost their matches to receive a better draw in the next round.  This is where my confusion begins.  How does winning a game give you stronger competition in the next round?  Sounds more like a problem with the dumb rules.

*Ryan Lochte rocked an American flag grille after winning a gold.  I’m still debating whether this was appropriate or not.  Regardless, he looked ridiculous.  

*I watched the 10k track race (6.2 miles) and learned two things: 1) these runners run a 10k faster than I can run a 5K and 2) these runners can run faster than I can bicycle.

*A 16 year-old female Chinese swimming “prodigy” won the 400 individual medley gold, with her final 50 meter split faster than Ryan Lochte’s, winner of the same event for men.  Has anyone made her pee in a cup yet?

*There is a segment on Michael Phelps about every 45 minutes.  And this makes me very happy.

I’ll have recap about the second week at the conclusion of the Olympics.  One thing I have decided is that I will be in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.  You can’t book a flight that far out (I already tried) or book a hotel (I tried that, too)... but I will be there.  Promise.  Because I’m seeing the events live... no more of these delay shenanigans.  

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