Thursday, August 26, 2004

Olympic Games 

I'm the guy who watches the Superbowl for the ads, and get snacks during the game -- even when the Patriots make the game. But though the Olympics haven't really cut into my Terry Goodkind reading much, when the tv's been on, I've been watching. Like a rattlesnake in a cage, you just can't help staring for a while when you pass.

I saw Phelps just enough to say I've seen him, and enough of that Retton-record-beating gymnast chick to know that she's no Retton when she's off the parallel bars but the cameras are on. Missed table tennis because we didn't get that staion, but saw some kayak slalom event which went badly for "our" American, and learned that some kayak slalom poles must be passed upstream. Saw a sloppy greco-roman semifinal lurchfest and plenty of trackstars.

I've seen men's volleyball at 2 a.m., and prime time women's beach volleyball. Even had a conversation with the Varsity coach here at school today in the snack bar line at supper, and finally figured out what that short guy in the red jersey was doing in among the huge guys in blue during all those group hugs (for those who care, he's a back-line perma-sub, able to grab a low ball to the back and pass it up).

And I've probably seen some other stuff, too. It just isn't that memorable, I guess.

As a media teacher, the Olympics fascinate me; they have better viewership creds than the superbowl, since theyir atheletes cover a larger breatdth, and come from a larger pool. But the way they drag out doesn't let them sustain the concentrated attention of our short-span theater viewing public. I suspect most folks are like me, watching sometimes, mostly just letting the idea of the Olympics -- that they're happening now -- settle into the brain like a string around the finger.

We've got a friend in the Olympic Village -- our festival buddy Dave was selected a long time ago as temp staff, bus-boarding athletes in return for a few event tickets, women's volleyball among them, supposedly. And artifacts, too -- Dave gave us some damn ugly mugs back before he went.

But it isn't enough to keep us watching for long. I mean, only those who were nationally ranked saber fencers in their adolescence (hi, PJ!) could make any sense of this too-fast-for-human-senses, lunge-fast sport. Guess that's why they were on so late, and why they're not shown in the constant replays and recaps, themselves dragging the pace even more than before, though their intention, surely, is to keep us high with highlights.

Too bad the two week high isn't sustainable. Good thing there's an antidote. If, like me, you're Olympicked out, Jonathan Crowe's celebration of these last place finishers makes for some light and enlightening reading. As a bonus, Crowe's rubric for tracking which country is the biggest loser seems cohesive and fair, with -- now that it's been adjusted for an error a bit back -- home team Greece in the lead. Go, team!

posted by boyhowdy | 8:51 PM |

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