July 6, 2016
The Summer Olympics will be arriving soon into our living rooms projecting onto our big screen TV’s from the shores of Rio. I admit, I have heard more about the Zika virus, body parts floating onto the beach and Russian steroid abusers than about the events and the athletes. Brazil has got their hands full this year and hopefully those folks can pull it off. We all want to see great athletic endeavors along with Brazil’s reputation for partying and frivolity more than bug bites and potential terrorist sad sacks trying to impose their will.
The two-week spectacle has always had a special place in my heart since the years that Jim McKay was the MC for ABC Sports. If were not for the great broadcasting by the Wide World Sports and ABC team, I would of not even watch the Olympics. I was hooked when I watched my first Olympics in 1972, the Olympics that featured Mark Spitz and a hostage crisis. I was very young and impressionable and inspired by the heroics of the athletes but at the same type baffled by the hostage crisis. The ABC broadcast team handled the situation will great concern and compassion as the nation was glued to the TV to watch the compelling events unfold.
Most of the sporting events we know nothing about, so we count on the Olympics to inform and educate us. Who on earth knows anything about Greco Roman Wrestling? Unfortunately, we will not see most of these obscure events because we will get bombarded with swimming and gymnastics. I, for instance, enjoy the track and field portion because it is the most diversified of all of the sports. Track and Field offers a wide variety of events that will showcase athletes from a multitude of countries that actually have a chance of winning. In particular, I can’t get enough of pole vaulting and high jumping. In addition, the 100 meter and 200-meter races are about as time honored as it gets and Usain Bolt will be competing and running again like lightning.
It is easy for all of us to feel cynical about the Olympics as a commercialized event full of cheating, shmaltzy glamorization of athletes who get paid for their participation. Certainty it feels that way sometimes and it makes us long for the day when Bruce Jenner was on a Wheaties box and not People magazine. On the contrary, I am glad we still have the Olympics as one of the few real global events that brings the world together as one for a fleeting moment. The terrorist and the haters may not like the big spectacle it but maybe they could find some joy in a little race or a weightlifting event. Better yet, maybe they can be inspired to see how far they can push themselves to excel in the world of sports which is the truth and essence of the Olympic spirit.