Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Olympic Games - Random Comments, Week 1

* I wish I had the time to watch the telecasts of the events that don't draw large crowds - fencing, rowing, shooting, etc. I did watch some of the badminton matches on my computer, and it is my hope that NBC will keep all the videos online for long time. The Olympics are still fun to watch even when you know who won.

* Michael Phelps won the eight gold medals he set out to win and beat Mark Spitz's record of seven gold medals in one Olympics. But when Spitz was in the Olympics, there were only seven gold medals that he could have won. As he observed, if there had been eight, he would have won eight. Seeing an old film of Spitz swimming in the Olympics, I was struck by the fact that unlike swimmers now, swimmers at that time did not wear caps, shave their bodies, or wear swimming suits. Spitz wore swimming trunks like any guy on the beach. Olympic athletes at that time did not have dieticians, sports psychologists, computer analyses of their training techniques, etc. Michael Phelps' achievement is truly awesome, but it should not be permitted to diminish that of Mark Spitz. Both did the best they could with what they knew. That is the most that can be said of any of us.

* I have watched Olympic gymnastics since the mid-1960s and Nastia Luikin's floor exercise in the all-around finals brought tears to my eyes. It was the best I have ever seen.

* Have you noticed how the first week of the Olympics the athletes were primarily Euro-American, and the second week will have many more Africans, African-Americans, and blacks from the Caribbean? Make of that what you will. I just find it interesting.

* One event I will watch on my computer, if it is not televised, is rhythmic gymnastics. There are many who do not consider this a sport, perhaps because it is so beautiful and requires the more refined skills of agility and timing. And there is no equivalent sport for men, so it can't be athletic, right? For those of us who believe that the world is in dire need of beauty, rhythmic gymnastics is the highlight of the Olympics.


"For the most part the spectator's stake in the proceedings is the gratification that comes from identifying with success. Whoever can provide such vicarious joy needs no other justification as a human being. The capacity of one man's actions to buttress the self-esteem of another is demonstrably a potent force -- a force that has been exploited whenever possible by the entrepreneurs of sports events."

Michael Roberts, "The Vicarious Heroism of the Sports Spectators," New Republic, Nov. 23, 1974

1 comment:

EnnaVic said...

I highly recommend the rowing. Out of NZ's athletes at the Games I think many of us in NZ are most proud of Mahe Drysdale in the Mens Single Sculls with his bronze medal. He epitomized doing your best in adversity. We are incredibly proud of him for finishing at all - let alone in the medals.

I agree about Nastia's floor exercise - stunning!