I feel bad, almost guilty, that I can’t get as excited as everyone else does about the Olympics. I wouldn’t watch archery, judo or dressage any other time so why would I want to watch them now? I understand that these (mostly young) athletes are examples of extraordinary talent combined with tremendous effort, time and hard work. But I am not sure that the effort and time they put into these endeavors are necessarily healthy in terms of the development of these athletes as people. Exhibit A: Bruce Jenner.
I used to watch the Olympics religiously — of course I used to watch the NBA too. Then in 1980 President Carter decided we should boycott that year’s event being held in Moscow to protest the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. The Russians returned the favor in 1984 by boycotting the Olympics being held in Los Angeles. Somehow during that gap from the 1976 games up to the 1988 games when we resumed full participation, I lost interest. Just as an aside, if we would have kept alternating boycotts with the Russians, it would have been our turn this year.
I must have been in touch with my feminine side the other day, because I decided to share my feelings with Zuki. It turns out that he has had some similar feelings but focused only on those events where a judge is involved. I think that just goes back to his ongoing battle with paranoia. I personally miss the East German judges. On top of which, how would you hold events like diving and gymnastics if you didn’t have judges?
I suppose a good part of my objection stems from what I perceive as a lack of diversity and inclusiveness, which are two of my very special causes. I have already mentioned that most of these athletes are young, talented and dedicated. Right there you have excluded three groups: the old, the untalented and those who don’t care anymore (see Curmudgeon Corner). What if you added a three-legged race? Now you have created an opportunity for an old three legged pro like JJ. Granted it might be difficult to find a partner with the same length legs, but still wouldn’t it be worth the effort? Maybe we could enter Zuki in a wheelbarrow race if we could find someone strong enough to hold on to his ankles. Did you know that they only recently discontinued croquet? There’s an event we all could enjoy playing.
I have to admit that my curmudgeonly apathy is being seriously challenged by one of this year’s competitors — Missy Franklin. Missy just completed her junior year of high school at the same school attended by JJ and myself. The school was all male back then but has now added an all-girls campus and is run by a Jesuit priest who was a classmate of ours. She has won a Bronze and a Gold with 5 events yet to come. The part I like the best is that Missy has refused all endorsement money because she wants to continue to compete as an amateur next year in high school and then in college.
I think it was Damon Runyon who said, “The race does not always go to the swift, nor the battle to the strong; but that’s the way to bet it.” I’m betting that Missy takes State next year.