LONDON, ENGLAND – Here’s what I tweeted earlier this week:
Apparently people still watch the Summer Olympics. Huh. Who knew?
[Note: If you’d like to track this and other riveting tweets by yours truly, click here]
Truthfully, I haven’t watched a single second of any of it. In fact, the last Summer Olympics I paid attention to was Montreal 1976.
What? A man writing for a sports website hasn’t followed the Summer Olympics in over 35 years?
You got it.
I mean sure, I see the occasional 100 meter dash final or catch a glimpse of flip-flopping on a gymnastics mat now and again. But for the most part, I don’t bother.
You see, when I really wanted to care, as a 12 year old back in 1980, we boycotted the Moscow games. President Jimmy Carter was upset about the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, which if you think of it now, is just beyond irony. And when I was 16, the 1984 LA games were tainted by the payback boycott of Soviet Union and the entire eastern bloc. In retrospect, it was probably the beginning of my lifelong complete lack of respect for the City of A-Holes. Great food, but beyond that it’s a suburban nightmare.
Anyway, by the time the 1988 Seoul games rolled around, I was almost 22. In other words, old enough to know better. My entire teen years were absent of meaningful Summer Olympics, and encountering it as an adult, I just didn’t care.
Hammer toss? Discus? Javelin? Synchronized Swimming? Target Shooting?
Honestly. Who gives a shit?
And something I could actually get behind, like boxing? The 1988 Seol games were when corrupt officiating cost Roy Jones, Jr. the gold medal after he absolutely dismembered a local South Korean fighter. What a joke.
And as far as the sentimentality and romance of the games, it was too late. I was an angry young man. The traditions only seemed saccharine and hypocritical to me. For example, I think those Olympics were when I learned that during the opening ceremony the U.S. delegation is the only country not to respectfully tip its flag as it passes the host nation’s pavilion. Tradition? No. Total dick move. You’re a guest. Show some f—ing manners. Take off your hat when you enter someone else’s home. Self-righteous, spoiled !@#$s.
And the idea that I’m supposed to get warm and fuzzy when someone gives it their all and comes in last? That’s a notch above celebrating people who go to work everyday, bust their hump, and remain mired in abject poverty. That shouldn’t make you cry in admiration. It should make you nauseous.
The rich countries win most of the medals. Get it? Some poor schnook from NeverheardofitStan pulling a bronze in Greco-Roman man-humping isn’t a moment of uplifting triumph. It’s the exception that proves the rule, and a reminder of just how stacked the whole system is.
So no, I didn’t watch much of Seoul in 1988, and almost none of Barcelona in 1996. And to be honest, I couldn’t even tell you where the 2000, 2004, and 2008 games were. Maybe somewhere in Australia? Whatever.
But in 1976, almost-eight year old me was riveted by the spectacle of thousands of athletes competing in some far-off exotic city where they spoke hillbilly French and rooted half-heartedly for the Expos.
My memories are, of course, a bit hazy. I remember Bruce Jenner winning the decathlon, though being far to young to realize he was a huge fan of The Village People. And I remember Sugar Ray Leonard being the belle of the ball in many ways. His lightening fast hands were tailor-made for amateur boxing. Other than that? I dunno, maybe some guys in spandex unitards lifted some weights or something.
And you know what? As far as the Summer Olympics are concerned, that’s enough for me. I’m happy to leave it at that. You can keep London. I’m gonna go watch a ball game.
Cheesy Bruin goes for the gold tomorrow.