Olympics Impressions

So, you know, I am totally into the Olympics. They will pretty much be on whenever I have a free moment. Obsessive much?

I'm a little too preoccupied with actually watching the Olympics, and work and stuff to recap them in any way. I have learned not to volunteer to do that any more. The "why did I say I was going to do this?" feeling is the same every time. But I've got a few impressions so far that I wanted to share. And I know that some people will disagree. It is what it is.

The Opening Ceremonies. Worthy of DVRing for sure. The best part was the look of excitement and pride on the faces of the Chinese participants. I have to admit, that I have a place in my brain where all memories of opening ceremonies go. I hate to say this....they all kind of seem the same for me. Whether the wonder is due to the human performance and synchronization or the ability of technology to do the same, well, they all kind of blend together for me. The scope and effects are spectacular, but considering what we see on TV, I guess I am a little desensitized to it. And I imagine it would be better in person. The parade of nations is cool. I record it and then fast forward, stopping for the US, countries where my peeps are from (Erie, Polska, Deutschland, uh, The Netherlands, England and Scotland....sorry, here we see the limits of my language skills) and countries I have visited. I like the stories (like the young Chinese boy who pulled people out of the earthquake rubble because he was the hall monitor and it was his job...gotta love that little kid). I figure that the announcers can stop saying that this is the best opening ceremony ever and will never be topped. You can't say that every time. And either they forgot that they have said this before or think we have. Just a bit too much gushing.

The other thing that I always notice about the opening ceremonies is the excessive use of hard to understand symbolism. This symbolizes this, that symbolizes that. I am sure it's hard to resist the quest for deeper meaning in the ceremonies, but mostly I just want to be entertained. I love the Chinese culture though, so it was all good. And I will never remove from my mind the faces of the people operating the printing blocks. Their sweetness and exuberance jumped through the screen.


Michael Phelps makes me want to rethink my affinity for the underdog. In some ways, doing what nobody has done before kind of makes you the underdog. I have very mixed feelings. Would kind of like to see someone take one away from him but really wants him to get his 7 medals. He's a super-human, awesome freak of nature. Sunday nights 4x100 freestyle relay almost gave me a heart attack. Awesomeness!


Speaking of the underdog thing, I have to admit that I enjoy watching some other countries beat us in events. When you hear about our medal counts during the games, it sounds like in many sports we are dominant. So that underdog thing of wanting the unexpected to happen means that sometimes there's an upset. You can't help but feel happy for the winners from the other countries. Of course you want the American team to do their best, but did you see the 23rd seed  Latvian beach volleyball team beat the second seed US team in pool play (not single elimination)? You couldn't help but be excited for them. This is where you sing "we are the world" and talk about being citizens of planet earth. I can feel it.


OK and the political thing. Again, just my opinion and I am open to people disagreeing with me, just not people being nasty about it. So feel free to respond. I was really disappointed to see Jim Lampley or Bob Costas or whoever it was (I sometimes have trouble telling them apart) interviewing the President on foreign policy with China. What was this, freaking Meet the Press? I wanted sportsmanship. Hey, NBC put the team sports no CNBC and other categories of content on other channels. Perhaps they could have saved the political stuff for another venue. This just totally rubbed me the wrong way, I think that the Olympics is an opportunity for people to discover what we have on common and learn about each other.

Anyway, I personally found the focus on political stuff inappropriate. Take it up in a foreign policy forum, but let's just focus on the harmony and competition of the Olympics. It's like people from other countries not liking our government and therefore thinking all Americans are bad. I think we should have a broader view of what "China" is. Is it the people or the government? I went to China in 1997 and I found the people lovely. And although there may be things from a human rights standpoint that we disagree with the Chinese on (and I am not minimizing those things), I think that focusing on it during the games really takes away from the positive aspects. Frankly, if we can't do a little compartmentalizing (hey, sometimes it's a good thing), I am not sure how many of us can get out of bed in the morning.

I'm totally all for the peaceful protests that took place during the torch relay. The attempts at torch-snatching, not so much. I guess my perspective is to keep the Olympic games themselves pure because there's so much good that comes out of it, and feel free to use the lead-up to the games (or even after the games) to make your political point peacefully. I've been reading and watching TV about the struggle for Tibetan independence and I don't want what I say to take away from that. But I don't think we will see the Dalai Lama condemning the games any time soon.

Maybe it's simple of me to want to keep the good and discard the bad, but we can always take the bad stuff up at another time and you know it will happen anyway. That interview during the games just totally harshed my buzz.


OK, one last thing. Did you see the look on the faces of the French team after the swimming relay Sunday night? I got a little too much pleasure out of that. Had they not said that they were going to "blast" the Americans, I would have actually felt a little bad for them (yeah, yeah, with their perfect bodies, endorsement deals, baguettes, wine and chocolate...I would have felt as bad for them as I could). But since they decided to bring on the cockiness, the looks on their faces felt a little like justice, or at least a reminder that you don't have to say out loud everything that you think because there's a good chance that you will be wrong. Yeah, I actually learned that lesson, earlier in life, the hard way.

I'm sure there will be more comments to come if I can ween myself off the TV long enough to write about it some more.

Comments (4)

  1. Greg Lucas says:

    What do you think about the fake fireworks and the lip syncing little girl?

  2. HeatherLeigh says:

    You know I just heard about that last night. I could tell the little girl was lip synching but I had assumed she was lip synching to her own voice.

    I think I’d be OK with the fireworks if they said "hey, look what we can do with fake fireworks" but I don’t like the idea of someone trying to fool people.

  3. Brian says:

    I agree the whole political discussion was extremely inappropriate and took away from the spirit of the games.   In fact I flipped to another station until it was over.

  4. Tim says:

    Glad to see someone else (okay, everyone else) is up late and sleepy in the morning because of the Olympics. Be glad you don’t have rabbit ears and a digital tuner. I really thought the opening was spectacular – and in some ways crazy politically scary. In fact, everyone I spoke to the next day, not millions so this is not a poll, commented on the creepiness of the Chinese army. (Especially my mother’s friend from from Amsterdam. The goose stepping brought back some bad memories.) I don’t think you can go into a country like China without weighing in the political ramifications. I would love to put it all aside, but I can’t help but reflect on the human rights violations (remember the blogger who Yahoo! turned in?), the questionable"16 year-old" gymnasts, and the strange fact that 3/4s of the stuff Americans own is being made there. I’m not impartial here, Heather, I’m not a China fan, so maybe it’s different for me. Maybe if I met their people, like you did, it would change me. I love watching all the athletes compete and most times during the last week, I haven’t thought about it much, so maybe there’s hope for the average American after all.

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