The Olympics end Sunday. They sure weren’t your father’s Games.
They were not mine, either.
My Olympics barely started. Track and field was shown by NBC a half-day late. Men’s and women’s basketball was on fairly obscure cable channels until the final games. Baseball was tucked away in the electronic wilderness. The Big Peacock home network was too infatuated with swimming, gymnastics and the bikini-clad titillation of women’s beach volleyball to show more traditional American sports.
Oh, Bill. Where do I start…
How about with a brief history lesson. While gymnastics was techincally created by the Greeks, swimming and volleyball are about as American as it gets. Not exaclty baseball and apple pie, but volleyball was created in the late 1800s in the state of Massachusetts. Competitive swimming was reportedly created after mimicing the Native Americans – now known as “free style.” I think it’s safe to say that these two sports would be considered “American,” but that is just one opinion. Feel free to disagree. Now, with that said…
There are plenty of people in my life who are nostalgic to a fault. It is simply one version of the many fans out there. I’m very accepting of that, though it is not a way I choose to view things. Browns fans, more than others, I cannot fault for reminiscing the old days when there were winning seasons upon winning seasons. I’d talk about the new regime, but that would be off point as we gear up for the 2008 slate. I also know of a few people who do not like the Cavaliers any longer, as it “isn’t as good as the Mark Price days.” Those people are just missing out to no fault but their own as we have one of the best players to every suit up in our own wine and gold.
But then you have a totally different group of sports “fans.” Those who refuse to succumb to the evolution of time. Typically, these people also take their VCR’s to get fixed, instead of spending considerably less money and buying a new one. Or, you know, perhaps investing in digital technology…the crazy fad that it may be.
They are the ones that revel in the days of ABC’s Wide World of Sports. And they’re also the ones that refuse to accept anything considered “extreme” like the X-Games, or even the emergence of Mixed Martial Arts. They do not understand that things evolve through time; sometimes for the better, others for the worse.
To be a bit upset that NBC did not broadcast baseball or basketball at ultra-prime hours is one thing. To not accept the fact that other sports have grown in terms of importance to a wide range audience is another.
In Livingston’s piece, he managed to not only put down the events of today, but also managed to be the last person aboard the sexism bandwagon (if you didn’t notice, beach volleyball players where bikinis. Oh, the horror!) while rehashing the racist comments of Don Imus from a year ago. The rare trifecta of old school thought. Those with the winning tickets can collect your purse at the window.
Do I think that Bryan Clay received entirely too little air time? For sure. In fact, he may have had more time during the Closing Ceremony pan-over than he did prior to those 25 seconds. And was I happy that the gold medal game was shown at 2:30am? Not especially, though I do understand the whole time zone issue.
But to say that the Women’s Gymnastics team and the beach volleyball tandem of Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh got air time because they’re “cute?” How about the fact that they are amazing athletes? Believe it or not, there were several other female gymnasts and beach volleyball members that did not get air time. The names Nicole Branagh and Elaine Youngs are likely unknown to most sports fans even though they too were wearing bikinis and (wink, nudge) cover sand. If it was all about “titillation,” one would assume that these two would have been front and center, right?
May and Walsh have won over 100 consecutive matches, something that is relatively unheard of. They came strong with a background, stories that many can relate to, and then finished it off with a very decisive run at the games. The women’s gymnastics team was supposed to be a gold medal team, despite leaving with the silver. Shawn Johnson and Nastia Liukin received their air time, and answered with multiple medals in individual events. Other members of the team, clad in identical uniforms, did get as much prime time viewing not because of their looks – at least to my knowledge – but because of their abilities.
Look, I’m sorry that Terrance Brown and barrel jumping has been replaced by Shaun White and the half pipe. I’m sorry that Fedor Emelianenko, Anderson Silva and George St. Pierre have replaced the Leon Spinks’ of the world. I really am. But while I may be of the younger, more accepting generation, I do know that refusing to accept new things – while longing for the days of old – will get you nowhere. I have no idea how long these new events will be around, but what I do know is that I will be here to root for the superb athletes that participate in them, for their respective countries, and are damn good at doing just that.
Regardless of what they’re wearing…