Saturday, February 11, 2006

The Olympics are here! The Olympics are here!

I meant to post this yesterday but the opening ceremonies were so riveting that I couldn't bear to look away. Yeah, not so much this time around. I am not sure what it was; maybe NBC's coverage, the modern industrial-themed dances, the somewhat hackneyed cirque-de-soleilesque acrobatics. I am sure it had something to do with Bob Costas and whatever news guy was co-commentating with him last night. How long has Costas been doing the Olympics? And he still isn't good at it? I think he just gets too enamoured of his own smooth voice and doesn't think about THE WORDS THAT ARE COMING OUT OF HIS MOUTH! Maybe I am just getting too old, have seen too many opening ceremonies but they all seem the same now. There is always a little kid component, some interpretative dance number, the acrobats, the diplomat speeches (thankfully short this year, I thought), and the lighting of the torch--the last does not seem less meaningful thankfully.
I was disappointed that when the US team walked in we heard very little about the athletes. Usually the fortnight is filled with moving stories or hardship, heartache, injury, perseverance (which too get hackneyed) yet the only people we heard about really were Bode Miller--multiple mentions, flagbearer Chris Witty (deservedly) and mogul skier Jeremy Bloom and of course Kwan (more posting on her to come!). I want to see and hear about the people who may get no more attention for the rest of the games. I want to see the underdogs, and those from less popular sports (of course given that this is the winter games the last is all relative).
Oh well--I am pretty much over it and have moved on to exciting things like the women's hockey team which won their first game today!
But on a somewhat sadder note. Even while we celebrated the opening of the games yesterday, we had to mourn the defeat of softball's reinstatement to the 2012 London Games. Baseball didn't make it back in either. There are some interesting things to examine in the responses.
US National Team coach Mike Candrea said: "I think this is really going to make some kids make decisions quickly: Do they start raising a family or do they keep pounding away, not knowing what the future is?" Yes, because the only two options for women playing softball are either to keep playing or to start popping out babies. Way to heteronormalize the sport and set the women's movement back a few decades, coach! Also--Candrea's use of the term "kids" is rather disappointing and ironic given the starting families part of the comment. Kids is a diminuitive term--they are women--and of course if kids having babies is actually not so accepted in our society.
Another interesting comment came from a US IOC member who noted that the "packaging" of softball and baseball may have hurt softball's bid. True dat, sister, but softball participates in the construction of that packaging by making constant comparisons between the games, with players who cite baseball players as role models, and with commentators' remarks during broadcasts. I am not filled with schadenfreude over this--I am truly disappointed by the IOC vote--but this might be a good time for softball to really look at how it packages and presents itself to the world.

4 comments:

EBuz said...

You're right, ken, we didn't get too much substantive biography about the US athletes last night, mostly scandal and controversy. BUT we did get reintroduced to Grandma Luge from the VI. How cool is she? NBC interviewed her today, and she gave us the quote of the games, so far: "Women over fifty. They are my nation."

Amateur said...

It's tragic that Grandma Luge has broken her wrist!

Some good insights about softball, ken.

Amateur said...

And here's something you might like: How Bob Costas really feels about hosting the Olympics

EBuz said...

Like Mauresmo, Grandma Luge is definitely in the "willing to die out there" camp of athletes. Makes me love her even more.