Thursday, August 21, 2008

Pulled Muscles, Choking Filling Beijing Hospitals With Sprinters

Now that the Olympics are over, it is a good time to take a look back at what we've experienced.

Alright, so technically the Games still have five more days left, and technically I will still watch a lot of it because as soon as someone puts "U.S.A." on their shirt, I will watch them compete in almost any event, but for all intents and purposes, the Olympics are indeed over.

The swimming, water polo, handball, cayaking, road cycling and volleyball are done, as are the 200, 400 and 1500 in track, and the U.S. men's and women's 4x100 teams dropped the batons are out after the first round (oops, did I spoil tonight's NBC "Live" coverage?). Although, the best event in the Olympics - the men's 4X400 relay - is yet to come, I have grown so sick of our primadonna sprinters, and of sprinting in general, and I don't know if I really care anymore.

I coached a high school track team for four years and I wound up coaching different sets of athletes nearly every year: 800/1600/3200 kids, long/triple jumpers, 100/200/400 kids. Now, these were just high school kids, none of them particularly good (besides a 4:19 miler), but without a doubt the worst attitudes, worst work ethics, and worst teammates were the sprinters. They were always hurt, they were always complaining it was too hard, and they were always strutting around like they were any good.

I walk a fine line here, because my mom is a world-class Masters sprinter, but in general (Olympians are no exception of course), sprinters are the worst athletes to deal with! How many Olympian sprinters got hurt? How many Olympians in all other sports combined got hurt (including the weightlifter who dropped the bar on his own head)? In 2004, an Olympic marathoner got tackled by some lunatic after having run 25 miles. He got up and finished the race, swerving down the home stretch with his arms out like a little kid pretending to be an airplane. And how many sprinters blew out a muscle within five steps of the blocks? These people can't hand a stick to one another, they can't stay in their lanes, they can't stretch properly. How do they feed themselves?

I admit that there are some interesting finals still to come: basketball, soccer, etc., but really if I miss those, it is no big deal. I tried to watch the U.S. softball team play but they aren't all that exciting. They have allowed two runs in the whole tournament, while scoring about 60. The gold medal game is against a team they've drubbed twice already. Ho hum. And besides that, the screaching, squealing cheers from the benches makes softball basically unwatchable anyway! As long as Jenny Finch is pitching, I can just mute it though.

Speaking of softball, I just want to point out that the IOC has decided that baseball and softball are not viable Olympic sports and have taken them out of the line-up for 2012 in London. So let me get this straight: baseball (perhaps the world's second most favorite sport) is not a valid Olympic sport, but ping pong, synchronized diving, badminton and weightlifting are? Weight lifting isn't a sport, it is training for all the other sports! Why don't they have competitive stretching, hydrating, or ankle-taping - the Pregame Triathlon.

Next week, as the World's Commissioner of Sport, I will spell out how I would improve the Olympics. Post comments or email with your ideas.

Finally, the special Olympic gold medal that is awarded for sportsmanship should go to one of two people. This first is American hurdler Lolo Jones, who was the favorite in the 100 and clipped the last hurdle, dropping her from Gold to seventh in the last 10 steps of the race. Afterwards, during an interview in which she said, "I was shocked. My mind was numb. I worked so hard for this, and it disappeared in less than a second. All I could think of was just getting back on my two feet and standing strong...It's the hurdles - if you can't get over all ten, you can't be the champion," she stopped mid-sentence to congratulate Australian Sally McLellan, who won the silver. I can't wait to see her crush everyone in London.

But my pick for the person who best exemplified the Olympic spirit is Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. The guy invaded another country, just like back in the good 'ole days, right when the Olympics started. Many people say that interest in the Games has waned since the Cold War ended because there are no clear villains to root against. Well, Medvedev did his part to bring back a little of that Miracle On Ice fervor, and I salute his effort!

1 comment:

Joey K. said...

"Now, these were just high school kids, none of them particularly good (besides a 4:19 miler)."

Hey, I resent that! I am quite pleased with my 5:10 mile. I think the coach my freshman year set me back years if I might add.

Just kidding.