Random Olympic Musings

Since the Olympics are ending today, I thought I’d share a few observations, questions, and things I’ve learned over the past two weeks. I may still not be the biggest fan ever, but I watched — and enjoyed — more this summer than in many past years.

  • Why is it that male gymnasts are able to perform with minimal use of sequins, music, and eye makeup, yet the female gymnasts seem to use as much of all three as possible? It’s an athletic competition (and a damned difficult one, at that) not a dance recital.
  • I find it strange that the NHL suspends the hockey season during the Olympics so that players can join the teams for their home nations, but MLB doesn’t. My brother’s theory is that it’s because they don’t want the US to get their ass kicked by the Dominican Republic (the likely outcome, I’ll acknowledge). Of course, it’s moot now that baseball is no longer going to be an Olympic sport.
  • I think the scheduling is unfortunate. The two sports I like most — swimming and gymnastics — are stacked up in the first week, and then I pretty much tune out, except for a random volleyball game here and there. I can’t be the only viewer with strong preferences, so it seems like it would be better to have things spread out a bit. It also seems like it would be less punishing on the athletes physically.
  • I so don’t get the rhythmic gymnastics events. They can be kind of interesting to watch, but it seems like awarding medals for a Cirque de Soleil audition, rather than for a sport.
  • This article answered a question I didn’t even realize I had. Fascinating! (Hat tip to the D.C. Sports Bog for the link.)
  • Men’s Olympic swimming is clearly the highest and best use of HDTV technology.

Oh, and I totally didn’t finish my skirt project for the Ravelympics. When I decided to sign up, I really didn’t think at all about how much knitting a 20.5-inch-long skirt would take when the actual width of my body was taken into account. (A lot, as it turns out.) I have 11 inches done, though, which is a lot more progress than I would have made in two weeks if I hadn’t challenged myself.

Updated to correct the article link, which was to page two of the story, not the beginning. Clearly, after reading it, I instantly decided to post it, not even taking the time to click back to the first page.

6 thoughts on “Random Olympic Musings

  1. common loon August 24, 2008 / 3:37 pm

    Very much agree w/ some of your points (women’s gymnastics, for example). And just how is rhythmic gymnastics a sport? Truly, it seems more of a dnace recital than the “regular” women’s event. Sadly, I’m a fan of sports where there is a clear-cut score, time, or something of measure, and not just a “judge’s opinion” to determine a champion. Now, why is it that the women’s beach volleyball uniforms are very skimpy bakinis, while the men get to wear a full T-shirt (must imagine it’s more comfortable diving into that sand without your belly so exposed)? I’m sorry, but Olympians do not look great in speedos (diving). And don’t even get me started on medal counts…

  2. Eileen August 24, 2008 / 4:28 pm

    My favorite comment so far on how China handled the Olympics came from a Washington Post columnist…

    “Ever see a stadium with 91,000 fans and not one drunk? It’s here. One world, one dream, one beer.”

    And I think CL and Sarah covered most of my sport related comments…

  3. Susan August 24, 2008 / 7:44 pm

    Once Phelps was done, I was done watching. Too many nights I stayed up to watch an event live…only to see it again the next night on prime time tape delay…which caused me to miss more live events! And don’t get me started on which track and field athletes are obviously doping…

  4. Joanne August 24, 2008 / 8:32 pm

    Track and field was not my thing, either. Once the equestrian ended, I was pretty much done. I would have liked to see the women’s team synchro swimming final, but apparently I missed it.

    Right now, what’s irking me the most about the olympics is, all the spin about how powerful China must be in order to do such a good job both hosting and competing. There will never be a serious discussion of the lengths China went to pull of these Games–banning cars on Beijing streets for a month before, shutting down their factories to temporarily stop the pollution, rounding up the dissidents and shipping them out of Beijing so no pesky foreign journalists would stumble on them, spending billions of dollars and bulldozing thousands and thousands of homes to build the venues. Frankly, it should disturb us all that they went to these lengths to stage a huge propaganda piece for two weeks. And yet, as I sit here watching the closings ceremonies (which seem to be embracing the tackiness and cheese factor of previous games so far), everyone is gushing about how great China is. God, our media has become such a hollow shell.

  5. Rudi August 24, 2008 / 11:02 pm

    CL: I’m with you on the sports with subjective scoring being pageantry: give me an objective score, a time against a clock, a standardized, non-disputed measure of ability, and that is a sport. That’s why I can’t fully appreciate the outcome of events like gymnastics, figure skating and the like.

    My sports background is in alpine skiing and bicycle racing: two sports that are judged against a clock, and nothing else. It’s cruel, but exacting.

    So what sports did I appreciate in Beijing?

    Swimming was intense – not just Phelps, but Torres and all the others, who won and didn’t win, for doing some incredible things. And don’t forget the long-distance swimmers, who are simply incredible.

    Gymnastics was cool, too. Sure, I have a beef with the scoring, but to see the athletic ability on display was incredible. Especially notable (and humbling) was the Chinese still rings athlete, where you could see each individual muscle fire up as he s-l-o-w-l-y flipped from a pike to a handstand in the most painful contortion you could imagine.

    I liked the Bolt factor in the sprints – that guy is insanely good.

    Beach volleyball was fun – and May-Treanor and Walsh are good eye candy for us gents.

    And the USA basketball teams were inspiring. The women for showing that they can play the game like the men and squash the competition. And the men for setting aside their NBA egos to listen to Coach K, play selfless, team ball, and set a standard for teamwork that few “super group” teams can muster.

    China’s politics are deplorable, for sure, and they must’ve dangled Damocles’ sword painfully close to the international broadcasters who toed the line on the negative and ac-cen-tuated whatever positive stuff they could find (Mary Carillo was really stretching the limits with putting a gloss on dung toward the end of the Olympic fortnight). I think that there were very strict limitations put on the media, far beyond what was reported before the games started. I can’t wait to read the real story as it unfolds over the next few weeks.

  6. Joanne August 25, 2008 / 9:52 am

    Oh, Rudi, you’re still optimistic about our media! How nice! 🙂 The conventions start tonight, the Olympics are already a distant memory. I expect nothing to gain traction.

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