Monday, August 30, 2004

"I call upon the Youth of the World..."

I watched the Closing Ceremonies last night, which is always an interesting endeavour. It’s a lot of pomp and circumstance, which is fun, but I really just want to see the athletes, most of whom looked like they were having a lot of fun. I got to see Aaron Peirsol messing with Brendan Hansen’s camera, Lisa Leslie smiling like she owned the world and dozens of athletes from as many countries wearing their medals and smiles spread wide across their faces. Every time they passed a camera, they mugged like high school students at a Friday night football game.

Bob Costas, who I really do love, mentioned that the US women’s teams (soccer, basketball and softball) had a combined record of 22-0-1. The women’s soccer team had a tie, I guess. Either way, that means that combined, the women won 22 games en route to their gold medals. Not one American men’s team could pull that off. The only thing that I can think of that the women have over the men is heart. The women play for love of the game. Title IX granted them the ability to play at any level, but there are still so few opportunities for women to make a living playing professional sports in this country. I’m glad when I see huge billboards of Marion Jones and Barrett Christy on the side of Niketown. I love seeing women’s soccer draw the crowds that it can. It makes me happy to see Lisa Anderson and Layne Beachley competing in front of the same crowds as Kelly Slater and Andy Irons. It’s nice to see that, but I wish it were a little more equal, I guess. Not to the point where women become NBA players—I don’t understand the point of the NBA. They’re all overpaid, overmanaged divas. It’s ridiculous. Give me David Robinson, give me Chris Dudley, give me MJ, give me Magic or Danny Ainge or Larry Bird. Take the rest—we don’t need them. Worthless divas, for the most part.

Anyway, this turned into a rant, and it was actually meant as a paean to the Games, so I’ll bring it back to that. Watching the closing ceremonies is always a little bittersweet. I’d love to try to get some friends together and go to the Winter Games 2006 in Torino—that would be sweet. I’d love to go to Beijing. I want to answer that call as part of the youth of the world. We’ll see. Really, I just love being able to lose myself in a bunch of sports that never get enough airtime except for two and a half weeks every four years. I salute each and every athlete who made headlines for winning medals or earned the respect of sports men and women everywhere by just showing up and giving it everything they had, regardless of what place they came in. I know that I couldn’t do it and I am continually amazed by the people who can.

Quote of the Day: “I declare the Games of the 28th Olympiad closed, and in accordance with tradition, I call upon the youth of the world to assemble four years from now at Beijing, to celebrate with us there the Games of the 29th Olympiad" Dr. Jacques Rogge, reciting the Closing Statement

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