Olympic Thoughts

August 24, 2008

The Olympics are over and I’m sad. What will keep me up until all hours now; I’ll have to find something else. So I thought I’d wrap up with a few thoughts and observations before we forget about it. It’s like Erin’s closing ceremonies.

  • The Olympics used to be only for amateur athletes. But as professional sports grew in popularity it became obvious that the Olympians were not the best in the world anymore. Now almost all sports are open to professionals. One notable exception is figure skating in the winter Olympics. I think that they keep it that way because professional (what is popular for people to pay to go see) and amateur figure skating have two different goals. The former is purely to be entertaining while the later is to be as technically and aesthetically proficient as possible. In fact while the main focus of amateur skating is better and more difficult jumping, professional skaters remove difficult jumps they may fail to execute in favor of crowd pleasing dance movement. So the best skater is not always the most entertaining. That’s not the case in other sports. The better technically skilled a basketball player or a swimmer, or even a gymnast is the more likely they are to have professional success.
  • Two of Michael Phelps’s gold medals were won by relay teams. Including the second one when there was an amazing come from behind by the anchor swimmer, Jason Lezak, and the final record breaking eighth gold was the medley relay. It takes a team to be the best.
  • Jackie Chan was just singing in the closing ceremonies. I wonder if they’ll get Pierce Brosnan to sing at the London Olympics. (Wait I think he’s Irish… but he went to school in London does that count?)
  • In synchronized swimming, they do this thing called “deck maneuvers.” They are like dance moves that the teams do before they dive into the water. They are only allowed to spend ten seconds on them and they are not counted in the scoring at all. They kind of remind me of the way we used to do load in for theater competition in high school. We’d practice enough so that we could do it in silence and we’d enter and leave in a single file line. (People thought we were unbelievable pretentious, but I think that they were just jealous.) That certainly was not required and load in was only scored if you took longer than the allowed time and got points deducted. It’s all about making a good impression. If you have it together in the little things you’ll be more likely to have it together in the things that count.
  • I have one more but I think I’ll save it for it’s own special post. Let’s keep the party going.

I was watching the men’s indoor volleyball last night. US vs. Russia. The Russian team’s average height is 6’7″… That’s really tall. But you know what I noticed when everyone on the court is that tall the individuals don’t seem that tall. It’s kind of like the opposite of this picture. Doesn’t Lebron James look like a giant? Heck we got to told like a hundred times that Michael Phelps is 6’4″.

The match ended up a real nail bitter too. The US won 15-13 in the tie breaking set. Now on to the gold medal match.

“Never been done before, may never been done before; we never know.”

Congratulations Michael. May never been done before.

Update: Man this one is good too. “Here’s Michael Phelps about to be awarded the fourteenth gold medal in history.” Um I don’t think so Bob.

Bob Costas: Too pumped to make sense.

Tennis too, who knew?

Screen Capture from nbcolympics.com

Beijing Olympics Day 3

August 10, 2008

I love the Olympics. I think that I’ve loved it since I cheered Kristi Yamaguchi to her gold in figure skating. And I think that everyone in the US (and particularly the south) loved the fact that the Olympics were in Atlanta. That’s the year the US women’s gymnastic team won the gold medal. I was in the seventh grade. Fun fact… this was also the year I worked on writing the html for the GBMS website. That’s right, before I worked on it in 1996 GBMS did not have a website. Here’s a screen shot of a GBMS website I wrote in eighth grade circa 97. (Also, I am at this moment watching Hannah Thompson fence live from Beijing on the internet. Man times have changed. And the flashing mesh helmets are scary in a medieval slash space alien sort of way.)

One of the fun facts that I included on my personal page was how much I love the Olympics. (Fencing interuption… Hannah just won 11 -2, go team USA.) My friend and I even did our seventh grade history fair project on the Magnificent Seven and Kerri Strug. So I was watching today when the women’s gymnastic qualifying events started in Beijing. But the US girls are having a rough day. One gymnasts was injured in the last seconds of warm up meaning that they did not have a alternate in some of the events whose scores could be dropped. In the floor exercise two of them stepped out of bounds with two feet. On the uneven bars one girl feel off and the favorite in the event had a terrible dismount. (Swimming interruption… Just watched “the most incredible relay ever” the 4 by 100 men’s free where the US’s anchor man over took the highly favored French’s lead by about 3 ft in the last half of the last lap, amazing. And that leaves Michael Phelps’s quest for 8 golds still alive. And he is favored in all the rest of his events.) All for of those mistakes cost huge deductions. So the US is in second place meaning that China will be able to compete last in the finals so they will know exactly how many points they’ll need to win and be able to adjust difficulty levels accordingly. Better luck tomorrow girls.

Oh one last thing who ever chose these shiny red leotards is just plain mean. They are just not flattering (this picture’s not bad but trust or watch for yourself.) And you have to work really hard to make 95 pound girls with not an ounce of fat on them look bad. Bring back the white ones please.