Sunday, August 24, 2008

I've Never Watched So Much Olympics In My Life

I've never watch (nor enjoyed watching) the Olympics as much as I did during the 2008 Summer Olympics.

I'm not really sure why...but I can only imagine that a lot of it has to do with just a general life stage. When I was in college, the last thing I wanted to do was watch 16 year old girls on a balance beam, or men's synchronized diving. Yet with a wife, and a baby, it's pleasant to sit and watch the American beach volleyball teams bump, set and spike, or of course watch Michael Phelps eeks out a couple minor miracles and a whole lot of lap whooping.

I also think that the NBC Olympic producers did an exceptional job putting together the prime time Olympic package as a story. Why else would we care about 50 m free swimming events if it wasn't for 41-year old Dara Torres and other similar athletes who's story we are introduced to. They chose the most interesting events and made them something that you could follow as opposed to broadcasting hours of random edited clips of jumping, running, kicking, splashing, and goal making.

I also attribute a lot of interest in the games to the host Beijing. They're contribution to the games is too fold. The first is the initial level of conflict, intrigue and pre-event stories. I wanted to watch to see if the smog was death defying, I wanted to see the harsh planned economy coaches to see how they treated their protegees, and I wanted to see the Chinese crowds put tremendous pressure upon their hurdler, their gymnasts, and their six foot three inch tall female volleyball players. In addition to all this intrigue and early predictions from many (including economist Daniel K.N. Johnson) of China's expected medal counts, developed an intriguing rivalry that had to be watched.

In addition, Beijing was an exceptional host country. Obviously pouring far more dollars (Yens) into the games than London will in 2012. The Water Cube, the Bird's Nest, and the amazing competitive climate that they created really made the games enjoyable to watch.

In addition to all these, it's such a neat experience to see the world compete together. In an ever increasingly global world it's neat to see the world compete, and to have the ability to respect athletes from other countries who are superior in their sport, like Usan Bolt from Jamaica.

I don't know if my experience is unique. But I've got to see I've never watched (or enjoyed watching) the Olympics so much in my life.


Yih said...

cool thoughts, but as a 23-year old, life stage isn't the main reason. All of my peers have agreed that we haven't watched this much since the '96 Games in Atlanta.

You're definitely onto something with Beijing and NBC. I don't remember the buildup to the Olympics this high in my lifetime, I don't remember another city taking its presentation of its Games this seriously, and I don't remember any network show so many hours of the Olympics. It didn't matter what cable system you have, when you slept or long as you had a tv, there was Olympics.

Anonymous said...

One of the things missing was the gathering of people in fan zones. The government was so worried about protests they banned public gatherings, disallowed visas to certain journalists, and deported others. Let's not forget the IOC's impotence regarding the Chinese Women's Gymnastics team. The President of the IOC is more than willing to criticize Usan Bolt for what he considered poor sportsmanship, but he was unwilling to launch an investigation when a government could be involved in creating fraudulent documents giving their athletes a possible advantage. What the Chinese government created with the Olympics was good theater. Everything was going to be perfect regardless of the price. Many promises were made when China won the Olympics, improved human rights, environmentally friendly, full access to the games. Very few were kept.

I the Chinese would get their feelings hurt mistaking their currency, the Yaun for the Japanese Yen;)

Anonymous said...

Like an idiot I went and pulled the plug on cable in July. I missed watching the Olympics a lot more than I thought I would, and probably partly because of the intriguing story lines you mentioned, but also because I love sports. I did see some at other peoples houses, but I won't make that mistake in 2012.

Terence Towles Canote said...

I have to admit. I watched very little Olympics. The fact that it was in China kind of irked my political sensibilities. And then it seems as if prime time was just filled with swimming and gymnastics, not sports i adore. I might have watched more if I could've seen the karate, boxing, and fencing competitions, not to mention soccer.

Anonymous said...

random thoughts:

-Sand volleyball was my favorite

-Watching the Olympics on the East Coast is not fun. I am too old to stay up that late

-Bob Costas reminds me of your dad

Deborah said...

I agree, I watched more than I have since 1976. It was thrilling. I loved swimming, diving, BMX biking (!), weightlifting. I wish they showed more track & field. I love track & field, I love all the decathalon events. Those used to be prime time events until the advent of basketball and volleyball in the Olympics.

Anonymous said...

I'm completely on the same page. I watched sooo much of it, and loved all of it! I cried (a few tears) during the closing ceremonies...loved it that much.