Will here, was just thinking to myself "God, I suck." Sometimes seems like all I do is copy other bloggers and I have no originality whatsoever. At least I can be witty about it. At the very least.
In any case, I just read a fine article over at Sports Card Info which is an entry into a Beckett contest. I read his piece and thought, "Hey, I can write 600 words on the Olympics, let's pound it out."
Really, that's what I thought. So I did. Took a couple of hours, and I was interrupted twice, but here's the final version, it would have been a three page paper had I formatted it for college. If you'd like to vote for me, click the title and hit "thumbs up". If I win the grand prize, I'll be happy to trade the printing plate to someone who would really enjoy having it.
Besides Presidential Elections, every four years sports fans across the globe have another major event to look forward to: the Summer Olympics. The games of the 29th Olympiad are rapidly drawing to a close, and with them we pause to reflect that past, present and future of the games.
When Baron de Coubertin founded the modern Olympic movement in 1894 he couldn’t have possibly imagined the scale and technical grandeur of Beijing’s Opening Ceremonies, which were quite possibly the most spectacular live event in history. Hyperbole aside, when the eyes of more than a billion people around the world are watching the same thing, it’s definitely special.
While technology allows the athletes to personify the Olympic motto of
“Faster, Higher, Stronger” we often forget that the individuals competing are people too, and they come from all walks of life. From the fantastic story of Lopez Lomong, the U.S. flag-bearer during the opening ceremonies, to the despicable behavior of Ara Abrahamian the Swedish wrestler who casually tossed away his Bronze medal because he felt he had been treated unfairly by the judges, we need to remember that we’re not watching robots or computer simulations, that these extraordinary (and sometimes ordinary) feats of skill are being performed by people like you and me.
Fortunately these games have been relatively safe, secure and scandal-free. World politics haven’t really entered any of the sporting arenas, and while protests regarding China’s lack of humanitarian treatment of their own people rage world-wide, the people of Beijing appear to have really welcomed the rest of the world with open arms. Time will tell if these games are successful financially, but they certainly appear to have set the bar fairly high for success in staging the games themselves and the space-age venues, especially the “birds-nest” and the water-cube are among the most stunning arenas to be built for sporting events.
Of course there are the individual highlights to look back upon, these games will be forever remembered as the coming out party for Michael Phelps, though he wasn’t exactly an unknown commodity before the games, he’s certainly the biggest star now. The United States team had strong showings in so many events that it’s difficult to single out one or two for further review. The host-country set out to have their best showing ever, and succeeded medaling in more events than they had in past Olympics, and dominating the diving platform, sweeping the gold medals and taking almost half of all the available medals in the first seven events. In fact, China’s overall Gold haul, which at this writing is over half of their total medals, is the highest of any country, by a large margin.
These games have been called China’s reintroduction to the world stage, but I would say that the Chinese aren’t strangers to the world. We may have just needed reminding that they matter. Well, of course they matter.
Looking ahead to the London games of 2012 one has to wonder how the Brits can pull off anything close to what the Chinese have accomplished this year. Fortunately the English have already held TWO Olympic games and become the first city to hold three modern Olympics. High-speed rail lines and a continuation of the modern building projects that begun with the Millennium Dome should give London the infrastructure needed for what is guaranteed to be the biggest games ever.
It’s just too bad that we’ve seen the end of Baseball and Softball for the time being. At least it’s my hope that they’ll both be reintroduced in 2016.