Posted by: Nathan | August 5, 2008

The Beijing Olympics

As I started writing this post, I couldn’t help but feel that I had written on this subject before. Yep, I did. But that was over two years ago and it was for the winter games, which I like slightly better. The summer Olympics commence this Friday with what is bound to be the amazing and slightly overwrought opening ceremonies. I intend to watch it if I can. I can’t help it: I like the Olympics.

Every time the Olympics rolls* around, the folks on ESPN start talking about whether it matters. I ashamedly admit I’ve been a part of the “does this matter?” conversation before (on other matters), and it’s always very self-absorbed and myopic. Do the Olympics matter as much as a Cubs World Series? Not to me, but for just about everyone else in the world, the Olympics are far more important. The Olympics is the World Series for every sport involved**.

There is a lot to love about the Olympic Games. Everyone the world over is involved in this event, and this is especially true of the summer games–folks who live around the equator don’t ski much for some reason. I like the spectacle of each nation being announced in several languages and marching around the track. Yes, the costumes are corny sometimes, but so what? I like watching sports I forget exist and becoming engrossed in the action. I really like that there is always something on TV worth watching, although this may be troublesome for my thesis…

I like that stupid NBC tipany and trumpet theme: “Da, DA, da-da da duh da duh, duh duh duh-duh, da-da-da-da duh da-da-da da DA!” (Editor’s note: I realize the previous sentence is complete gobbledygook for anyone unfamiliar with the song.) I also enjoy how NBC has to bust out their E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, and M broadcasting teams to cover all the events: “Phil, you’re doing water polo!” “Water polo? What do they do with the horses?” “Just get over there and figure it out!” I bet if you were in Beijing and had a suit, they’d recruit you.

And there’s the national anthem. It’s always inspiring when one of our (more famous) athletes wins the gold and we watch squi sing along with “The Star Spangled Banner.” It’s also fun to hear other countries’ national songs.

In the spirit of PTI, I’m going to give you some things for which to watch. 1) Catch that opening ceremony. You can skip the closing one. 2) Find time to watch diving. What those divers do in mid-air is spectacular. 3) Swimming, especially if Michael Phelps is involved. It gets very exciting. 4) Gymnastics. Hey, I want to watch this stuff, so J gets some influence. There’s usually a lot of drama here anyway. 5) USA basketball. Can the men restore the legacy of the Dream Team? 6) Some track and field (not too much). The pole vault is always cool. 7) At least one sport you don’t care about at all. I love doing this. Turn on the games and watch something about which you know very little and see if you can learn something. There are people in other countries who care about this event; maybe they know something you do not.

Well, that’s all I’ve got. Are you watching? How much does the Olympics grab your attention, if at all? I’m curious to hear from you.

*This sounds like bad agreement, but I’m treating “Olympics” as one collective event.

**There are a few exceptions, notably soccer, which has the World Cup.


  1. It will be interesting to see how many athletes pass out from the smog over there. I always like the high diving. Laura Wilkinson is back again this year. She won the gold medal in 2000.

  2. I’m most definitely watching. This is partly due to an affinity for the Olympics and partly due to an affinity for being a couch potato. I’m a sucker for the water sports and track and field. I’m going to get sucked into the basketball stuff, too, to see if the USA can win.

  3. A sleeper sport to watch is team handball. I was reminded about it on ESPN and I’ve watched it’s kind of a mix between field hockey and basketball. Pretty good stuff.

    I’ll be watching the opening ceremonies tonight and as much olympic action as I can get over the next couple weeks.

  4. Yes, the Olympics are always fun. I am always into gymnastics, with swimming and diving right behind. I do wish they’d give a little more attention in the main broadcast to what is happening in sports beyond the main ones that they cover. What about shooting? Does anyone cover that?

    And I don’t like how much attention they’re giving some athletes over others. At least 85% of the coverage of last night’s team relay win (which was astounding! fantastic!) was about Michael Phelps. Hello? 3 other people were on the team!

    But really, I love it. I look forward to it every 2 years.

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