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In which this is my Olympic two cents

 

I grew up a big sports fan in a house full of sports fans.  My dad watched football religiously and was a huge Oklahoma and NY Giants fan. I grew in in North Carolina and was a huge Carolina and ACC basketball fan.  All three of us, my two brothers and myself, were year round swimmers.

 

We all swam in college, my older brother and myself at Johns Hopkins and my younger brother at The University of Virginia.  I knew people who went to the Olympics in the 80’s and I know some who are there right now.

 

My parents loved the Olympics and watched every sport.  Back then it wasn’t on as much as nowadays so when it was on we were glued to the TV.

 

I remember the Munich hostage taking. I remember the devastation of the rescue.

 

I remember Olga Korbut doing her routine ad becoming a Russian gymnast who was America’s sweetheart. This was when the Russian’s were still our “enemy.”

 

Then there was Nadia with her perfect 10’s.  Back then, although we routing 100% American it was about the personal triumph no matter the country.

 

In 1968 I was 9 years old when the American track runners raised their fists to the way blacks were treated in the United States.

 

The Olympics were more than just sports and just TV ratings; they were about athletes rising above politics.  Back in the day the Americans were the dominant swimmers and then the East Germans beat them badly.  As it turns out they were doping and it was upsetting.  It was the first time I remembered that “cheating” had a place in Olympic sports.

 

The games have never been without drama whether it was the Russians beating us in basketball by redoing the ending of the game or by athlete’s taking steroids like Ben Johnson or Marion Jones did.  However, I really feel it’s a disservice to the viewing public when the games are hyped as a personal one on one contest between two athletes like in the Phelps/Lochte story.

 

Anyone who has been watching Michael Phelps from the beginning, which was Sydney, knows that when Phelps made it in the team as a scrawny 15 year old, it was an amazing story but we didn’t know what to expect.  Then he became “Michael Phelps” the amazing.  He had an over abundance of talent and a hell of a work ethic.  As a result, he became the best swimmer ever.  And yet, he still wasn’t an extrovert so people saw him as arrogant and standoffish. I think he was shy and focused.

 

Ryan Lochte, who I really liked, isn’t some flash in the pan.  He became great in college and set tons of records. Without Michael Phelps around he would have been the star.  Great looking, personable and accessible Ryan is every PR persons dream.  He has refocused and spent the last four years with one goal in mind, to be the best.

 

Michael, meanwhile, had nothing left to prove and admittedly slacked off.  The trials and by extension, the Olympics have been hyped as the changing of the guard which I think does both these athletes a grave disservice. Ryan because he is the heir apparent but all he gets asked about is Michael Phelps.

 

Michael, because people think he no longer deserves the hype. The perception of him is that he’s an asshole. I know this because lots of non-swimmers only believe what they hear.  He’s a reserved young man who is intent on his sport and when he goes out, he is constantly asked to be in pictures and give autographs.  Even Natalie Coughlin said she felt bad for him.

 

So, everyone is routing for Ryan and he wins.  People see Phelps as getting what he deserved. What? He swam poorly.  He’s obviously not used to being on the losing end of things and indeed, looked shell shocked.  The press was pretty mean about it in my opinion.

 

Keely spoke to a bunch of people who said “I’m glad he lost because he didn’t deserve to win.”  I think it’s unfair the way he’s portrayed.  Meanwhile, Ryan is a fun loving guy who loves people, cameras and even the spotlight.

 

I just think it’s become too personal. The Olympics should be about a celebration of talent, hard work and great teamwork

 

Instead, all we see is the winning and the losing.  I think it’s sad.  When I saw the women’s 400 IM at 11:45 last night (thanks NBC…not) I realized that most people will remember the American, Elizabeth Beisel being passed in the final 100 Free. What I’ll remember is one of the most phenomenal closing 100 frees I have ever seen in my entire life. The winner was Chinese and she crushed the world record.

 

Who cares that the American didn’t win? It was an amazing swim.  I’ll remember the triumphs, not the failures.

 

And this Lochte/Phelps thing. A great rivalry requires great races. Let’s hope we get some of those.

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17 Comments

  1. Taragel
    July 30, 2012

    Well put, Lynn! After the 2008 Olympics, I became a big fan of a Canadian ice dancing team who won the gold there, and yet, when I stuck my nose into skating message boards and forums, found a lot of hate for them because….they just weren’t the American team. I’d never really realized how partisan Olympic sports can be, because like you I just routed for whoever interested me. Usually it was Americans because those are the only players that the networks really cover in any depth, but years ago I remember their being more coverage of all the top athletes regardless of their country. Now we don’t even get to see other countries’ team performances usually (like in ladies gymnastics). Such a shame.

    • Lynn
      July 30, 2012

      So that’s how you became a big ice dancing fan!!! I hate the coverage. It just gets worse and worse. I also hate when they build stuff up for the ratings. I just want to enjoy it all.

      Thanks for commenting girl!!!

  2. Annabelle
    July 30, 2012

    I wonder if it’s partly a feature of the 24-hour TV and internet coverage that’s normal these days that the “human interest” parts are taking over from the sports themselves. Ultimately the races/games are what it’s about, but the networks have to fill in all the spaces with *something*. I agree that it’s too bad.
    Annabelle recently posted..Trifextra: FantasyMy Profile

  3. Dylan Lin Calista
    July 30, 2012

    Like I said, the best thing I can do in the water is either float or drown. Or maybe even both.

    But, like you, I’ve been following Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte’s performances. And, I think people are being a little too harsh when it comes to Michael.

    Everyone is different and people are so easy to pass judgment. Not sure why he appears to be struggling – whether or not he hasn’t trained enough is something I have to admit that I cannot say. Some people say it’s age, some say it’s the lack of commitment. Who knows.

    What I do believe, however, is we all have our time to shine. We all have our peak moments. It could be that Michael Phelps has already had his time and now it’s someone else’s to shine.

    The Olympics is suppose to be a time when people from all over the world get together to compete in a friendly game of sports. This is perhaps one of the rare moments when groups of people from far and wide get together to ‘play’ nice. And yet, what I notice is a lot of people seem to bent on winning that they don’t care.

    I was keeping track of the medal count and I read a few comments on news sites where people have said stuff about China for winning a lot of gold…then came racial slurs…blah blah. Ridiculous really.

    I’ll still keep watching but I may have to take a chill pill every in between because it annoys me when people are being far too critical. It’s supposed to be fun, for pete’s sake. If they don’t want to enjoy it, at least I will. Just pass the Zoloft, please.
    Dylan Lin Calista recently posted..In Being SelfishMy Profile

  4. Faith.The Blond.
    July 30, 2012

    I don’t even watch the Olympics because of all that both of you said. The bringing people down and slamming them. The lack of coverage of other countries. I can remember back in the 80’s and 90’s watching the Olympics and being proud not just of the USA but all the countries who had athletes competing.

    Now..when is the bobsledding being shown? I want to watch the Jamacians!

    • Lynn
      July 30, 2012

      hahaha…Bob bobsled. Jamaican bobsled

  5. your favorite daughter
    July 30, 2012

    Shocking as it is, I actually read your blog. And now I’m commenting – maybe the zombie apocalypse is finally upon us?! Anyways, I totally agree and hope that people who have little or no knowledge of a certain sport (in this case swimming) won’t just trust any old media article that probably doesn’t have that knowledge either. Instead they should take a look at the handshaking, the tweeting, and the back-clapping in and out of the pool to judge someone. Lochte may have won that IM, but he was still a good two seconds off the world record (which, ahem, belongs to Michael Phelps); maybe he should remember that before running his mouth and saying that this is his (Ryan’s) time. It can be both of their time, but it doesn’t take away from past achievements, and just like it was unfair for Lochte not to get the recognition he should have received in the past two Olympics (because yes, people, this is Lochte’s third Olympics!), it’s utterly absurd that Phelps get pegged as a “flop” because of one bad race.

    • Lynn
      July 30, 2012

      Good point Keely!!!

  6. Julie
    July 30, 2012

    I am trying to get into the “Olympic Spirit” but I’m having a hell of a time.

  7. Jester Queen
    July 30, 2012

    Ugh. Gymnastics. Last night, those fucking fuckers behind the camera could not leave poor Jordyn Wieber ALONE. For god’s sake OF COURSE SHE WAS SAD. But instead of really focusing on the upbeat Aly or Gabrielle, they kept zooming in on that poor woman like she was a loser, like she didn’t just get fucked out of a minute percentage of points by minor errors, like it couldn’t have happened to anyone, and like the fact that she is the reining world champion who can now not compete in the all around doesn’t still leave her as an awesome contributor to an incredible team. And they didn’t even remember to tell us Aly’s final awe inspiring score. They just jumped right to the celebration and dread, and I wanted to punch them in the mouth. Mom offered to throttle the guy in blue during the swim parts. God. Shudder. Ugh.

    • Lynn
      July 30, 2012

      yeah…I’m not impressed with the coverage at all. It’s like they’re LOOKING for drama instead of focusing on the performances.

  8. Liz
    July 30, 2012

    I’m so sick of hearing about only three swimmers! The Lochte/Phelps drama and Missy Franklin (because she’s from the same state I live in). There are so many other phenomenal athletes that deserve some recognition, too! Let’s give them a little attention!
    Liz recently posted..Happy 1st Anniversary Kristen & Stacy!My Profile

    • Lynn
      July 31, 2012

      yeah…Now I’m feeling sorry for Ryan Lochte because of the relay and bad coaching decisions. I do like Missy Franklin however. I think they underestimate the viewing public and our desire to see more athletes.

  9. Ribenatina
    July 31, 2012

    I live in the UK and I don’t think we get as much of the hype over here. There has been a lot about Phelps and Lochte issue but as Keely said although Lochte won he didn’t beat Phelps record. We don’t tend to concentrate on just the UK though which I find refreshing. Though those we feel may win gold are concentrated on (such as Rebecca Adligton) there appears to always be a conscious effort to include other swimmers in the commentry especially those with great records set in both the Olympics and their own countries as well as comment on the wonderful win – whatever the country.

    What has annoyed me slightly (because it can take a lot) is that there has been almost an automatic jump to voice slurs against the 16 year old Chinese girl who smashed Beisel’s record – I say good on her; it was amazing to watch yet so many now seem to be jumping on the “she must be doped” bandwagon. Why can she not just be congratulated on such a wonderful swim?! Her memories of winning this medal will be slurred with the memory of having to defend her performance.

    So far, I am enjoying it – the only thing is I did have 3 weeks leave booked from work especially for the Olympics and my own self-conscious has dictated I work the first week to finish some important work – no-one else to blame for that except me!
    Ribenatina recently posted..Things come in threesMy Profile

  10. Alexis Coleman
    August 2, 2012

    I am looking forward for the outcome of this London Olympic 2012. In fact, I watched and read news about the happening of this event. I hope our team from our country will bring awards from London Olympic. So, excited for the outcome of this event so I will make sure that I always updated.
    Alexis Coleman recently posted..Lose Weight with Cayenne PepperMy Profile

  11. Jhoanna Lyncon
    August 5, 2012

    London Olympic is an interesting event to follow since every contestants who will win on every game will bring pride to their country. So, good luck to all players and to the players of my country.
    Jhoanna Lyncon recently posted..Clear Skin Max’s 6-step acne treatmentMy Profile

  12. Hanna Ross
    August 21, 2012

    Yes, fortunately London Olympic is ended very well. I am happy for those who won on different games and representing their country.
    Hanna Ross recently posted..Toxic Colon : Detoxify your colonMy Profile

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