I have to be the first one to admit that I had absolutely zero interest in the Olympic Games three weeks ago. I knew a few of the stars but I only read up on it a little because of my job. To me the Olympics were something that used to be must see TV but lately had become stale and uninteresting. Little did I know, or expect, that the entire country would become riveted to it because of one man Michael Phelps.
I won't claim to be the greatest Olympian expert, but what he accomplished is truly astounding and it is easily one of the top 2 or 3 greatest athletic achievements in my lifetime. He single handedly made the Olympics cool again. I like a lot of Americans became glued to my TV set night after night to see if he could do it again. He delivered excitement every single night.
What has surprised me though is that I have gotten back into watching the entire Olympics. I caught myself this morning watching France vs. Poland in Team Handball. That tells you that I have become hooked again. When I was a child I was glued to ABC's coverage of the games. Then somewhere along about the same time Tonya and Nancy turned the Olympics into a soap opera I started to become disenchanted with the games.
NBC has done a terrific job this year with getting to the events and making them the focal points. It hasn't been wrought with so much syrup as it has been in the past. They have pointed out the great stories but not beaten you over the head with them. They have made the actual games the deal. That is what I loved about ABC's coverage and why I am pleasantly surprised by NBC. Especially when you consider there is a 12+ hour time difference they have done a great job.
Since I have been sucked in on the games here are a couple other quick thoughts.....
After watching Usain Bolt shatter the 100 meter mark why do I keep having flashbacks to Ben Johnson in 1988? Just asking.
The "redeem" team has been fun to watch in the mornings. Since I have a 1 year old I am getting up early in the morning and it's unusual that the basketball team has kind of been set off to the side. If you haven't been watching you are missing out. This is how American basketball should be played. They play a TEAM game. That is what has been missing in USA Basektball. The 2008 squad is making a statement and trying to erase the embarrassment that USA Basketball had become.
Gymnastics is still not a sport. Athletic certainly but not a sport. Any event that does not have a fairly decided, clearly defined winner can not be considered a sport. The judging in gymnastics and diving are a complete joke. I hope the Chinese enjoy their tainted gold medals in those sports.
Speaking of the Chinese I will give them credit that they appear to be putting on a good Olympic games. You haven't heard the complaining that usually surrounds an Olympics. I am not sure if that is due to censorship or they are actually running a good games but so far so good. Outside of the singing girl blunder and the sometimes empty stadiums they appear to have done an outstanding job.