I have been thinking about the Olympics quite a bit lately with all the protests about the torch (which was actually started by the Nazis by the way). I can’t help but think: who cares about the Olympics?
I used to. Now I don’t see the draw as much. It is kind of interesting to watch Olympic hockey since it’s one of the few times Americans get to watch European-style hockey with the larger rinks and finesse, rather than the tightly packed fisticuffs of American hockey.
Track and field is OK, but it’s as doped up as the Tour de France and Major League baseball. It seems like you can spot the steroids users by finding the three “winners” standing on the blocks with medals around their necks. That’s a gross overstatement I know, but such is the state of sport that the fans don’t trust the athletes, the commissioners, and those who have to enforce the rules.
Now we are going to stop caring.
Sports commentator Frank Gifford–one of the greatest commentators I’ve ever heard/read–has summed it up nicely in his commentary:
The Olympics has really ended up as a festival for those sports that nobody much cares about for the other three years and 50 weeks. The showcase is track and field. How many of you can name a single American track athlete? How many of you can name a single track athlete from any nation? The Olympics is a symphony orchestra without the violins and brass.
But hooray for all the Olympic athletes. Please, please, everybody, just threaten boycott, but let the athletes all go to Beijing and have their day in the smog. It was so unfair when, in 1980, President Carter sacrificed our Olympians to make a point against the Soviet Union. But, as the torch wends its way, spreading the bad news, I really think we might be seeing more than a censure of China. We may also be witness to the start of the real decline of the Olympics.