Since I’ve got a few more weeks before I start doing NFL season previews, and I like to bring up some unique sports events from time to time (like the Triple Crown), I’m going to drop a few random thoughts on the Olympics over the next couple of weeks. Don’t expect comprehensive coverage – that’s what NBC and ESPN are for – but unlike the opening ceremonies, which I’ve described as a low-budget Broadway production of Lord of the Rings, there are some great moments that make this quadrennial event absolutely worth paying attention to.
Take, for example, the Men’s Archery competition early Saturday afternoon (note: I’ll be using the times the event airs in NY, not local London time. I can’t be bothered with the conversions). The American men earned an upset over the South Korean favorites by hitting three bulls-eyes in the final moments of their semi-final match to move on to the gold medal round against Italy. The Americans fell behind in the first half but slowly crept back and by the final series of pulls were only one point behind. The gold medals literally came down to the last arrow to be fired by the Italians. A bulls-eye wins them the gold, a 9 sends it to a tiebreaker shoot-off, and an 8 or less gives gold to the US. Unless you’re watching Disney’s version of Robin Hood, scenarios like this never really seem plausible. Yet there it was, unfolding in front of the world. The Italian fired, hit the rim of the bulls-eye (which counts), and won his team the gold medal on what literally had to be the most pressure-filled shot of his life. Sure, I’d have preferred that the Americans won, but just to witness a dramatic moment like that is what makes the Olympics worth it. And this is just Day 1.
Here’s another one. You know how you hate soccer? Be honest, that’s probably your default reaction to hearing about soccer. Most people complain that it’s boring and low-scoring. Well I dare you to go watch the US Women’s Soccer team play and then still insist that it’s boring. These ladies are the gold medal favorites after all, and just watching the way they play together and move the ball with precision and purpose, setting up scoring opportunities, will quickly change your opinion. Their opening match the other day against France was exciting from the very first minute right to the last, and their dominance of Colombia this morning has already guaranteed them a spot in the quarter-finals. If you’re ever going to give soccer a chance (and honestly, you should – don’t let the soccer cliches hold you back), the time to do it is watching the US women.
Maybe you like watching hot women compete but still won’t shake the idea that soccer moves too slow. Well then you should be watching the indoor volleyball team. The action is so intense and fast-paced, you won’t be believe people are able to react so quickly. Or table tennis. Or boxing. Hell, my friend just told me he was watching fencing and loving it. Seriously, how many other times do you get to see the best people in the world all complete all at once in such a different variety of events? And we still have all the highest-profile stuff coming – gymnastics, track and field, men’s basketball, swimming and diving… Honestly, if you aren’t giving some of these events a chance, you are only doing yourself a disservice. You’re going to get a much better thrill watching an Olympic handball competition than you will watching the Mariners play the Royals right now.
So like I said, you’re not going to see me posting about every single thing happening in London over the next two weeks, but I’ll try to have some coverage and thoughts about some interesting and exciting moments. If it all goes downhill from here and there’s nothing else cool to discuss, well then you can say you told me so. But watching the US women’s volleyball team fly all over the court as I write this tells me I don’t have much to worry about.