I’ve decided to embrace my nature and admit that I’m a huge sucker for the Olympics. In the past, every time they’ve rolled around I’ve been cynical and unenthusiastic. But every time, at literally the first note of the opening montage, with the first image, at the first word of Bob Freakin’ Costas’ amber-toned opening monologue, I’m hooked. I’ll stay up till two in the morning coasting the NBC channels, flipping between archery and women’s team handball. I’ll watch rhythmic gymnastics. I’ll watch the freakin’ trampoline. I love the Olympics. I spend two years completely blasé, and then sixteen days in rabid adoration. Clockwork. It’s time I admitted it.
And every Olympics I discover new sports to be crazy about. I discovered men’s volleyball in 1988. In '92 it was fencing. In '96 rowing grabbed me. In 2002 I found Curling, which still fascinates me, and Speed Skating. '04 brought me water polo. 2006? One word: Biathlon. And now? In 2008? I can’t wait.
I have a confession to make. I’ve already started. Did anybody else get hooked by the trials? I couldn’t tear myself away from those. We’re talking about some serious drama. Amanda Beard makes the Olympic team on her last shot? Dana Torres is older than me! And she’s going to Beijing.
Maybe the best thing about the summer Olympics, though, is that it provides the perfect distraction for my normal August routine of checking nfl.com every three minutes for football updates. I mean, August has to be the longest month in the year. Not only does it feel like I live on the planet Mercury, but I’m toyed with by football, which starts but doesn’t REALLY start. The NFL in August is like fat-free sour cream: it resembles the real thing in name only.
Really though, this year is the first Olympics Jacob and Lorelei will remember. That’s what I’m excited about. I was talking to Matt about this and he said he felt like the Olympics weren’t that big a deal anymore. And sure, without the U.S.S.R. some of the political tension has drained out. Staggering the Winter and Summer games has diluted it’s impact some. But part of it is just that we’ve seen ‘em. We’re not impressed anymore. But not for Jacob and Lorelei. I remember the magic and majesty from my childhood that went along with this world event. Carl Lewis and Mary Lou Retton. Flo-Jo, Matt Biondi and Greg Louganis. The Dream Team. The Paralympic archer lighting the torch in Barcelona. Muhammad Ali in Atlanta. Kerri Strug vaulting with a bad ankle and sticking the landing WITH ONE FOOT!!! In Sydney a Wyoming farm boy named Rulon Gardner came out of nowhere to beat the THIRTEEN YEAR UNDEFEATED Greco-Roman wrestling champion, Russian Alexander Karelin. Karelin hadn’t surrendered a point in ten years.
That’s the stuff I want. It’s the stuff I’m eager to share with my kids. And its starts tonight.
Also, I can’t wait to discover a new sport.
4 weeks ago