Olympic Reflections

Was it me or were the Olympics hard to watch this year? Not figuratively; literally. Thanks to instant global news, I unintentionally caught headlines that gave away the stories before I made it home to watch.

Then, when I made it home, my DVR had recorded all the broadcasts, day and night. So I never quite knew if I was watching yesterday’s events or today’s or tomorrow’s. It led to a kind of sports malaise that always seemed to default to beach volleyball.

I did manage the basics: the queen jumped out of a plane; a gymnast cried; parents cheered (not at the gymnast who cried); Phelps lost a race; China is nearly the USSR of my childhood. But it felt piecemeal. If I had fewer kids and more time for the NBC Olympics app to load, it might have felt different.

Nevertheless, I caught the double amputee South African gazelle, figuratively speaking, of course. He reminded me that we’re all disabled in some way. Some just manage to overcome.

I noticed the first American to win individual medals in five consecutive Olympics. The skeet shooter reminded me that I don’t need Insane Bolt’s body to win gold.

I realized America’s female sprinters are more classy, gracious and articulate than 95% of professional athletes. The NFL should put them on retainer.

And I discovered playing to lose in badminton is the functional equivalent of giving the International Olympic Committee the bird. Aside: I wonder what it feels like to stink at stinking.

Then came the gold medal game for men’s basketball. With eighty international players currently in the National Basketball Association, Team USA doesn’t have quite the Sunday drive down the lane that it did in 1992. Still, it’s only news if they lose. Therein lies the pressure.

It’s a bit like the U.S. at war or in the global marketplace. Excellence is expected and failure is proof of American decline. There is no one I would rather have leading our roundball troops into that opposition than Mike Krzyzewski.

The legendary Duke University coach is the epitome of pride without ego, success without distraction. He endured an Olympics with Carmelo Anthony and Mike D’Antoni on his bench: further testament to his steely temperament.

NBA stars were draped in Stars and Stripes after Sunday’s gold medal game because of Coach K. Millionaires danced like children around a golden Teletubby because of him. The players bring the raw metal; he forges the medal.

Some will say Chevy Chase could coach NBA superstars to gold. That perspective doesn’t respect man’s capacity to self-destruct, to swipe defeat from victory’s jaws.

I had never seen Coach K fling his hands toward the sky and leap for joy before. He did Sunday in the final minutes when guard Chris Paul sliced through Spain’s defense for a coffin nail.

And I had never seen a basketball coach get a water cooler bath until LeBron James dumped two water bottles on Krzyzewski. Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” blared in the background.

Asked afterwards what it’s like to win an NBA MVP, an NBA title and Olympic gold in a matter of months, James said, “It’s all about the USA. It’s not about me.”

LeBron channelling Krzyzewski. America maintaining dominance.

Kevin Thompson writes weekly for The Boerne Star in the Texas hill country. He can be reached at kevin@kwt.info.

1 Response to “Olympic Reflections”

  1. 1 Grant August 22, 2012 at 23:56

    Another winner, pal

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