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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Thoughts on the Olympics

Yes, of course I've been watching on occasion, and here are some thoughts (on the participants, on NBC, on Beijing, etc., and in no particular order):

1. Bob Costas should get a better colorist for his hair. The monochromatic die job doesn't jibe with his grey sideburns. He's a distinguished sports anchor, and he should try to look the part. Instead, he looks like someone who is desperately trying to look younger than he is. Jim McKay and Jack Whitaker didn't have a problem aging gracefully, so neither should Costas.

2. How much beach volleyball can we watch? Apparently, the sport isn't all the compelling in Beijing, so why should it get some much prominence on national television?

3. Misty May-Treanor has the hardest body in all of women's sports, and she and Kerri Walsh look to be in great shape as well as having a lot of fun. Are there two better known female athletes on the U.S. team?

4. Why aren't the male beach volleyball players required to wear skin-tight speedos? What do the dads of the women's beach volleyball players think of their daughters and their international exposure?

5. Did anyone see the up-close-and-personal piece on Natalie Coughlin? Unfortunately, it was not interesting at all. They showed her shopping at an open-air vegetable market in San Francisco. While Coughlin said this was a source of enjoyment, she did so with all the enthusiasm of someone about to have a root canal. Which means either that she doesn't like the spotlight (which is difficult to believe given that she competes on an international stage) or that her life is so focused on one thing that beyond swimming her life just isn't all that interesting (at least at the moment)?

6. Do any of you wonder what the point is of synchronized diving and how the judges can tell who is good and who isn't given how fast the action takes place?

7. The stories of some of the synchronized divers seem sad -- moving away from home to a training center, having little time for a social life, if any, training frequently. The commentators noted that one diver was looking forward to going home and being a tenth grader with her friends. I submit that most, if not all, 16 year-olds should have that experience. Why specialize in anything so young?

8. I still have a difficult time watching judged sports and I railed on the topic four years ago. Last night, the U.S. boxer most likely to win a gold medal lost in the first round of the tournament and is out of the competition. Apparently, at one point during his match he snapped the head of his opponent back with a nice combination, only to have the bean counters at ringside score a point for the opponent. Sorry, international boxing powers, but your sport continues to take its shopping cart ride down the hill and off the cliff.

9. The U.S. women's softball team is an aggregation of elite talent that should win the gold.

10. I think that Rowdy Gaines is doing a good job providing color on the swimming, but that Andrea Kremer appears tentative in the post-race interviews.

11. Yes, Michael Phelps is accomplishing great things, but something on ESPN Radio this morning made me wonder about perspective. Now Phelps has 11 gold medals, and Mike Greenberg pointed out that that's more gold medals than any of Mexico, India or Brazil have won in their entire history of competing in the summer games. To which I thought aloud while driving to work, "so what?" Isn't Greenberg's statement an American-centric one? Yes, we as Americans care about stuff like this, but most people around the world care more whether their team can win, say, the World Cup (or, in India's case, the world cricket championship). I don't want to knock Phelps' accomplishments at all -- he's great. But let's compare Phelps to other swimmers and athletes, period.

12. I wish we saw more of the lesser known sports with athletes from one-medal countries winning their golds. A Thai won a gold medal, as did an Azerbaijani, while someone from Togo won a bronze. Those are huge deals, and it would be interesting to see some features on those performers and what their accomplishments mean to their countries.

I'm still watching (perhaps, also, because my favorite team in the world is on the West Coast losing baseball games that end past my bedtime and that begin at my bedtime).


Blogger Roy said...

Venus and Serena are likely better known than Misty and Kerri. I don't think the beach volleyball women are required to wear skimpy uniforms. However, they are probably used to it because its the standard AVP outfit. Also, these uniforms increase their visibility and probably their endorsements.

1:07 AM  
Blogger Charlottesvillain said...

I think you answered the question you raised in point 2 in point 3.

Everytime I tune in to watch there is some drag queen named "Mary" sitting on a couch with Bob Costas talking about pandas or chinese food. I wish they'd save that crap for the Today show.

3:14 PM  
Anonymous Chas said...

1) I like Misty, too, but I'm guessing most of the women pole vaulters will be comparably fit.

2) All sports which require judging are just exceptionally demanding forms of dance, the point of which should not be competition but expression.

3) Does anyone else think Andrea Kramer is channeling Barbara Walters? Alas, she lacks Walters's credibility, curiosity, diplomacy, humor and grace. With a billion dollar budget, why not employ someone knowledgeable like Donna DaVarona, Janet Evans, Amanda Beard...

5:06 PM  

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