Olympics: Who Can Care?

The Opening Ceremonies of the XXXth Olympiad, the London Olympics, have finished and I figured I should post something about the colossal event, just to feel like a part of something global.  The big problem is that the olympics do nothing for me.  I’m more of a team sport kind of guy.  The fastest man in the world race is always fascinating, but is over in a flash.  Gymnastics, swimming, fencing…could care less.  Now that they’ve done away with baseball (can’t figure out why…I mean….how many countries cross-country ski while shooting things?) I’m left with two events to watch: basketball and soccer.

Euro 2012 finished about a month ago.  There’s really only so much soccer I can watch, especially when it’s national teams.  The whole world knows that club soccer far outranks country in all measurable ways.  Unless your Serbia and Croatia, these games are about as meaningful as nipples on men.

Usain Bolt preparing to defend his title as ‘the World’s Fastest Man”.  (Photo Credit: The Lens Flare)

Basketball in the Olympics has always held a big sway.  In the old days of the cold war, the gold medal game between the USA and the USSR was always a hotly contested affair, with ideological bragging rights on the line.  Nowadays the event has lost that edge.  The US compiles such a ridiculous team every four years that it’s a shock when they don’t bring home the gold.  It leaves me with no option but to root against them, which is weird.

Politics and the Hometown Haters

For any of you who have read my stuff, I have some strong politics, and it’s often the norm for people on the left to root against their home nation in these large international sporting competitions to show how much anti-nationalism they have.  It doesn’t work that way for me.  I root for the US in the World Cup (as well as Spain).  Not so much because I love American soccer, but because I know the player, plus they’re an underdog.

Not so when it comes to basketball.  The US is the Evil Empire of international basketball.  Much like the Yankees are to baseball, the US tries to ruin the fun for the entire world.  I get the impression that the rest of the basketball viewing world doesn’t care who beats us, as long as someone does.  And I feel the same way.  I hate LeBron James and Kobe Bryant.  I couldn’t live with myself if I jumped up and down, hooting and hollering, for these guys to slam dunk on some poor guys head. (See Vince Carter)

Which takes me to the Beijing Olympics.  I had recently moved here to Australia after having lived in Spain for the previous 5 years.  The gold medal game was between the US and Spain.  I had few friends here, and when the husband of my wife’s friend asked me over to watch the game I said ‘hell yeah’.  We got a 12 pack of beer and sat down and watched the first half.  The game was hotly contested and looked to be a hard-fought affair played out by some of the best players in the world.

Typical sufferer of ‘Gold Fever’… a person whose lust for gold, or gold medals, makes them break out in a sweat at the thought of gold. (Photo Credit: Duck Tales)

The Unthinkable

For those of you who don’t know.  Australia is a nation of criminally insane sports fanatics.  They are the only nation that can compare to the US when it comes to the magnitude and intensity of their obsession.  Other places are psycho for soccer, but in Australia they’re psycho about everything sports related.  When the Commonwealth Games were on a few years ago, they were put on the TV in the break room at my work and people would scream at it when an Aussie would lose at Greco-Roman wrestling, demanding the head of some official or another.  Which is exactly why what happened next should come as no surprise.

At halftime, with the closing ceremonies nearing, and most Olympic coverage winding down into its final hours, they switched to highlights of the games.  That seemed a reasonable thing to do.  The basketball final would be contested almost up to the beginning of the ceremony and there wouldn’t be a lot of time.  After about 20 minutes we started to realize that something was horribly wrong.  We turned down the music we had on to drown out the announcer rabble only to find out that this was it.  This was what was happening.  They preempted the second half of the gold medal basketball game to show a montage of all Australians who had won a medal.  So instead of watching Spain v USA go down to the final minutes in what is generally the most anticipated event of the games, I watched slow motion replays of a flip that won some Aussie a bronze in who the F&*$ cares!  I was dumbfounded.

Oddly enough, Channel 7, the local broadcaster who had the rights to the games got in trouble for preempting the Olympics to put on Footy (Australian rules football, Australia’s true passion).  There were complaints, but what it boiled down to in the end was showing the public what most people wanted to watch.  Aussie’s would rather watch Footy than hurdles.  And they’d rather watch an Australian finish 6th in hurdles than watch a game contested by two teams of international superstars that have nothing to do with Australia.  And that’s exactly why I hate the Olympics.  Rational thinking is out the window and Gold Fever runs supreme.  All I want to do is watch a little basketball, but the drain on my soul is too much.

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    • Pete Mac
    • July 29th, 2012

    You’re the Scrooge stagger, don’t rob me of my australian shooters finishing 5th. Bah humbug.

    • Aren’t you on a plane? I’m telling the pilot that you’re sexting while on the plane!

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