Rising from the terrorizing ashes that were the 1972 summer games in Munich, my fervor for the Olympic games probably crescendoed in 1976 when Bruce Jenner won the decathlon and I decided I wanted to become a world-class decathlete by 1980. That pipe dream was crushed when I approached Coach Hills at Le Conte Junior High with my hopes of beginning my training immediately and he shook his head wondering where the hell did I expect to find a pole vault much less get permission from the LAUSD to risk the injuries I would undoubtedly sustain in doing so.
Good thing for that reality check too, because had I spent the following four years dedicating my life to bringing home another decathlon’s gold it would have been wasted thanks to the U.S. boycott of Moscow’s Olympiad. But of course, then I would have had to dig down deep and keep it all going for another four years and try to win it in my hometown, which — win, place, show, or no — would have made a great story. But I digress.
When the games came to Los Angeles in 1984 I enjoyed them, but I didn’t physically go to any venues. Mainly I watched the events on television and reveled in the Two Greatest Weeks Los Angeles Has Ever Experienced.
Since then my “love” of the games has disipated to almost nothing — and I’m not really sure why. The spectacle is there, and the thrill of competion and all that, but it’s all become just one big “meh!” to me.
Whether it’s right or wrong, I think I pretty much blame NBC going back to the games in Australia in 2000. Though I’m sure it could have been any network trying to figure out away to broadcast live sports back home from halfway around the world, NBC seemed to be peacock proud of its “live on tape” extreme-delay coverage. I wasn’t. Knowing I was watching something that had taken place 10 hours previously — and whose results I could find online in a mouse click — succeeded in taking a good measure of the immediacy and enjoyment away.
Things didn’t really seem to improve in Athens four years ago, and in what may be the only time I tune in this time around, I was shown last night it’s still the same old thing — compounded by the fact that I was watching the US team whomp all over a categorically overmatchedÂ Japanese team in an essentially meaningless prelim womens beach volleyball match that was already ancient history at 15 hours old.
Was that all NBC had for me? Even Michael Phelps swimming practice laps would have been as interesting.
Not NBC’s fault, but the Beijing air around the volleyball facility looked like a crapsoup and the teams were reportedly playing in a light rain. Rain? There’s no raining in beach volleyball!
Sadly the most compelling news out of the games yesterday was the murder of an American there.