Reportedly, Michael Phelps’ career as a competitive swimmer has come to and end. Just yesterday, many were contemplating how their life would continue without him. Fortunately, these were Americans, these were the Olympic Games, and by today no one remembers Phelps, or what events he won/lost. On to Track (not Field as we Americans stink at Field. When was the last time we won the Hammer Throw?). Then to Baseball pennant races, leading to the “World” Series.
Nevertheless, let’s recap the last week, as I am sure Bob Costas, or Tiago Maranhao, has not done so*:
* I do not include Opening Ceremonies in the recap in that I still am at a loss why anyone would attend. 4 hours of boredom with a weird theatrical play followed by thousands of athletes walking. Wouldn’t the money be better spent watching Bolt repeat in the 100, which he did, or catching rowing or, well, anything that requires the break a sweat?
1) Phelps e Foda! Excuse the Portuguese, but there is no word in English like Foda, which would roughly translate as Awesome, if Awesome were a foul word allowed to be used as a positive in this instance. Everyone dumped on him after the 400IM. Whatever. He only followed that up with the best split on our 4×100 Free relay team, and crushed the 100M Butterfly in both the individual race and Medley Relay. 22 Olympic medals and 18 Gold. Repeat that! Best Swimmer of all time, obviously. Which made it patently unfair that Lochte, only the second most decorated swimmer in Men’s US Olympic history gets criticized for not being Phelps. He is not MJ, or President of the USA either. He should not have been in the 4x100M relay, so unfair to blame him, and he faltered in the 200 Back — big wup. It happens. Take a break #haters.
2) Most famous Farah since Fawcett. Very cool to see Farah from GB winning the 10,000M at home. I remember in 1984 saying how unfortunate it was for the USA competitors to only get to travel to Los Angeles. Since that naive time, I have come to realize there may be no greater Olympic victory than winning with the support of the entire nation, and Paul McCartney, behind you. Figure this is what also led Andy Murray to crush Federer in the Gold Medal final for Tennis. Loved seeing that. But gee, what Stiff Upper Lips the British had. I was closer to tears than any of those in the box supporting Murray. One other cool moment was the entire crowd in the velodrome singing Hey Jude while Paul McCartney was in attendance.
3) The Logos. I have no issue with the London 2012 logo. While Iran claimed it reads Zion, I am more of the school that it looks like Lisa Simpson committing a sexual act. Regardless, too much money and thought goes into the generation and evaluation of a logo. Of course, the same cannot be said regarding the mascot…
What exactly were the designers thinking with this one-eyed wonder? Perhaps, like Lisa Simpson, I do not want to know.
4) Hoop. I am sorry, Dwight Howard or no Dwight Howard, the USA should not be threatened in basketball, except, perhaps, by Spain. Lithuania was too close for comfort, and Argentina could pose a threat but should not. We are still talking an NBA All Star team, even if not a Dream Team. And with LBJ at the top of his powers, the Gasol brothers should not scare us. Doesn’t mean we will win, but does mean we should.
5) Handball. Weird sport where the goalie is basically a prop. However, I actually do think this is a sport the USA should dominate. Run, pass, throw. What exactly am I missing? Reminds me of my buddy in college, Russ, who took up field hockey and promptly qualified for the Olympic Team tryouts. Get our tennis players, softball players and/or others into this and we win the gold in 2016. Which would help us compete with the…
6) Chinese. I hate medal counts, unless they were normalized for population and per capita income. China has 1B people and experiments with their athletes from early ages, funneling them into a program where one wins a gold and the 1000s work at K-Mart (or at least producing the products sold there). The USA has 300M people, and just about more money, and certainly more pools, per capita, so dominating swimming is not that surprising. So the medal count is rather silly; plus, the Chinese win a bunch in Archery and Shooting, so who really cares? It is not an Olympic event if you don’t sweat.
7) Cal Golden Bears. The name is fitting as the University of California, Berkeley, where YesMSG attended, has attained 8 Gold, 1 Silver and 4 Bronze, which would be 11th place if Cal were a country! #GoBears!
8) Best Names. The Olympics always has great names, and 2012 is no different. Double Gold and Single Silver Medalist Ranomi Kromowidjo is the early leader, but if the US Women’s Volleyball team can achieve its First (yes, First) Gold, then Foluke Akinradewo poses a threat.
9) Hotties. Every four years there is an outrage when the networks focus too much on the ‘hot’ athletes. Um, why? Look, we can be metrosexual about this. If I can spend an entire week watching swimmers, who are tall, massive shoulders, flat stomachs and thin waists, without worsening my body image, then I should be able to respect the Dutch Women’s Field Hockey Team, or the Italian Women’s Beach Volley Team? But in deference to my sensitive female American readership (if I have one), I will merely point out that Lolo Jones should hopefully win the 100m Hurdles Gold she deserved in 2008, and leave the rest of you to do your own Bing search for female athletes.
10) The TV Coverage. This article by @rosenberg_mike says it best, but I do have an appreciation (to some extent) for NBC, as I am currently watching the Olympics in Brazil. Now don’t get me wrong, I cannot stand the schmaltzy stuff NBC did, and they were certainly late to the live action game, however…In Brazil they do have 4-6 stations going live with all action all day — which is AWESOME. Terra.com.br also streams almost all events live on the internet. Both are superior to NBC (I believe). However, NBC does do the best packaging for those that like it. So if you want to avoid the results all day, like a Luddite, and get home to watch the events ‘plausibly’ live*, that is cool. Cannot do that here. The evening shows all let you know who essentially won before showing the highlights and analyzing it. And I know the US is often accused of following sports we are actively involved in, but that does make some sense. Here in Brazil I get a lot more Judo (cool) and Sailing (whatever) as the country is good at that. Sure, they show a lot of the USA, but since we dominate swimming and some other events, that makes sense too. So basically, I don’t think the Tiger Woods** coverage is all that different than elsewhere, so lay off Costas!
* I remember complaints about the Opening Ceremonies being tape delayed. Um, who cares? It is not like the result is in doubt. What, the cauldron was not lit? The Queen did her nails….tape delay only matters when there is a result. Watching an Opening Ceremony hours after the fact is no big deal, and it is packaged for the evening female audience anyway
** Tiger Woods coverage is how every golf tournament is covered. “Tiger is currently struggling at the Wisconsin open, and is 7 shots back of leader Dustin Johnson, who has four holes-in-one.” Because, in the end, Americans care about Americans, unless the Olympic Gold Medalist crossed the Sahara with no water, carrying his pet hamster, and putting out a Bedouin tent fire along the way.