Sunday, August 21, 2016

Sporting shots.

1) Closing Ceremony tonight. We all know about the tradition of all the nations' athletes marching into the stadium together as a gesture of brotherhood, and that it goes back to 1956, when John Ian Wang of Australia, then 17, wrote an anonymous letter suggesting it to the Melbourne Olympic committee. It was adopted for those Olympics and has been used ever since. This is the only time since Grace Bedell wrote a letter to Abraham Lincoln suggesting that he grow a beard that anyone in a position of authority has given a damn about a suggestion from a nobody. Anyway, now that I hear about so many athletes going home long before the last day of the Olympics, I have to wonder if the IOC really adopted the "goodwill gesture" so it wouldn't be so obvious how many athletes had already fled the host country.

2) American men have won 16 gold medals as of Sunday morning; American women have won 26.* Why? Because after decades of the culture telling us boys are violent and evil and girls are kickass and good, men have turned into sissies. Thanks, culture.

3) On the whole I did like what I saw of NBC's coverage this time. Not so many sob stories this time; more of the sports. And the main thing I attribute to this improvement of NBC's coverage? Time zone. Rio is just an hour ahead of New York. The producers did not feel they had to package the events for the American audience. For the most part, they couldn't. They didn't have time.

4) In swimming and running, I really like the short sprints. Especially the 50 m swimming. Just chuck 'em in the water and watch 'em swim like merry hell. Short attention span sports!

5) I was thinking about one of my great Olympic heroes: Spyridon Louis, who won the marathon in the first modern Olympics, in Athens, 1896. Greece had not been doing too well in the track events, which was very disappointing as most of them were ancient Greek sports. But Spyridon, a simple water carrier, became a national hero by winning the race, finishing in 2:58:50, seven minutes ahead of the second place runner. Louis would have been faster if he hadn't stopped to get a drink of wine and an Easter egg from his stepfather in Pikermi.

The man himself.
The king of Greece was so happy he promised Louis whatever he wanted. Louis asked for and got a donkey cart for his water delivery business. He never ran again.

6) At the end, I have to give Jerry Seinfeld the last word, in his classic bit on the Olympics:

* I drew up this count from medal totals because no one I could find has a breakdown by sex posted. (Why is that?) Note that I didn't count our gold medal in mixed doubles tennis, which I think is the only mixed-gender sport in the Olympics. At least until the Big Dodgeball Tournament becomes mandatory. 

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