Saturday, August 23, 2008

Olympic Notes

Falling off a horse, or in my case a more appropriate analogy might be after falling off a bike, getting back up and remounting it can be daunting sometimes. Falling out of my blogging rhythm had the same effect. I have started more than a few posts in the past 10 days only to let them die of inattention as I found my ability to be coherent somewhat blunted from the overall exhaustion that has settled in. The fact I am posting again indicates I may have turned a corner. Thoughts are coming with better clarity now, even if the subject matter is not.

The Olympics

NBC has managed to present more hours of coverage than I remember anyone doing in the past. I have missed most of the prime time coverage of the typical glory events, gymnastics, swimming, track & field etc. My recent health issues caused me to be awake more when others slept and asleep when others were awake. So I hung out watching the early morning hours of Olympic coverage on the USA channel. Water Polo, ping pong, and yesterday morning 3 hours of the 50K power walking marathon. 31 miles of men walking faster than most people run. I will admit it did not keep me on the edge of my seat. But I did come away with a deeper appreciation for the commitment these people make to their given sports. In a world where the worth of an athlete is based on how much money they make and not so much on their talent, I find it reassuring that there are athletes who tirelessly pursue perfection in sport not based on dollars. In my opinion, it is the unnamed and unsung participants of sports we only hear about every 4 years who can claim honest ownership of the Olympic Spirit. The rock stars of sports we see every day in the news or on TV would be nothing without them. So the next time you meet a power walker, don't snicker. Tip your hat and say thank you.

My wife told me that China did not allow clergy of any kind to travel with their various teams. Given China's well documented dislike of religion in general, I don't find this surprising. But what I do find surprising is the willingness of the rest of the World to accept this. I heard the Chinese promised to allow demonstrations in specific places around but not too close to the venue. Groups wanting to demonstrate had to register first. Just having to register first had to be a deterrent, but then I was informed that almost all those who registered were refused and some were arrested or deported for just filling out the application. And again, no one seems to pay this much attention. China has indeed become a powerful country when what we used to publicly call them on the carpet for is now quietly ignored. And yeah, it pisses me off. Not about what China is doing so much as no one seeming to care. Or is it no one seems willing to dare to care?

Of the many US Olympians testing themselves in Beijing, at least 7 of them hail from the great state of Maine. And of the 7, 4 have medaled and will be bringing home 3 golds and a bronze. Adam Craig (at left) is slated to race his mountain bike in a quest for one more. Ranked 10th in the World right now, he has a very good chance at pulling it off. Adam is one of those gifted riders who makes riding in the woods look easy. Yet he does not rub your face in how good he is compared to us mortals he often rides and hangs with. He rides for Giant Bicycles as a pro, but later today he will be riding for us. I wish him luck and hope to see him on the podium. Congratulations to all of them for even getting to the Olympics. The time and dedication to compete at such an elite level is awe inspiring.

And one last note for the night. I thought about how the Summer Olympics have always been followed by a Presidential election. That when I see the flame in August, I know the political studs shooting flames at each other are not far behind. I had hoped and still do hope that there is some kind of kernel or astute observation I can draw from this 4 year confluence of events. But try as I might, worry the idea like a dog with a bone, all I can come up with is -

Both have worldwide ramifications and both are watched closely worldwide.

Both are chock full of political intrigue and drama.

The Olympics can boost our spirits or dash them. The election seems to have a similar effect.

One boosts the economy of a country and the other sucks a large chunk of the economy out of a country. Either way, cash flows. And from what I have been led to believe and taught, Cash Flowing is always good for someone.

The efforts wasted in the pursuit of either end up being an exercise in frustration for most of the participants, leaving a very select few to bask in the glow of victory.

Both attract talking head couch coach experts like flies to cow pies.

Conjecture and predictions bloat the atmosphere of each driving the emotions of the faithful almost to madness.

That's it I guess. Not really much there after all. Just another series of days on the planet that offer us a few moments of distraction from the daily grinds we all exist in.



Gary ("Old Dude") said...

Your right every four years, we first get the wild emotional circus of the Olympics---followed by the clowns.

Anonymous said...

I much prefer the sport of politics than this IOC fiction ... c'mon, a bunch of pros playing basketball, tennis, et al .... not to mention the agony of defeet in Olympic Mongolian toe wresting.

And regrettably Leni Riefenstahl was not available as she was in '36 to film the pageantry of the opening ceremonies .... fake singers, fake fireworks, fake amateurs.

We've come a long way since Josef Goebbels. Indeed.

American Hill BIlly said...

I'm glad you turned your corner.

I haven't watched the Olympics since the US Cheat team....I mean Dream Team of basketball played. Kind of against the grain of what you pointed them to be. They should be about what you say. Maybe I'll tune in again.

As far as China, and Freedom of Religion/Speech, the US now has Free Speech Zones at any political events. Usually tucked far away, and no point in protesting.

United In Peace And Freedom