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Tim Cahill: Why I Am Not Excited About the London Olympics

Tuesday, July 31, 2012


Tim Cahill, GoLocalWorcester MINDSETTER™

I once looked  forward to the Olympics Games the way a young child looks forward to Christmas.  Because they only took place once every four years, the anticipation would be even greater for me.  One of my childhood heroes was the great discus thrower, Al Oerter, who was the first track and field athlete to win a gold medal in the same individual event in four consecutive Olympics.

I was even fortunate enough to attend the 1976 Olympic wrestling trials in upstate New York. There, I was able to watch and meet my all-time favorite athlete, Dan Gable, the 1972 gold medalist at 149 lbs.  Although I realized after attending the camp that I would never have enough skill or talent to make an Olympic team myself, I never tired of watching others succeed (and fail) every four years at becoming the absolute best in the world.

As I look at the box of Wheaties on the counter in my kitchen I cannot help but place some of the blame for my dissatisfaction on the  Kardashian's favorite whipping boy, Bruce Jenner.  Before he became some plastic surgeon's biggest mistake, Bruce won the decathlon at the 1976 Olympics to become the world's greatest athlete.  From there he immediately cashed in with his California good-looks and a gold medal.  Both Jenner and Madison Avenue realized that the Olympics not only bestowed gold on the winners but were also an advertising gold mine.

It has never quite been the same for those of us who enjoyed watching the very best American athletes test themselves against the best athletes in the world.  So here are some reasons why I am not looking forward to these Olympic Games.

(1) The opening ceremonies are projected to cost $47 million to kick off an event dubbed the "Austerity Olympics." Director Danny Boyle made Slumdog Millionaire for $15 million which was better and shorter. It used to be just about the athletes marching into the stadium. Now it's half-time at the Super Bowl - on steroids!

(2) Gymnastics,  Gymnastics, Gymnastics. This will probably get me in trouble in Needham, but a little gymnastics goes a long way.  And to top it off, the arena where the athletes will perform is entirely pink (advertisers demographic alert!).

(3) Although Michael Phelps' total Olympic gold medal haul will certainly be impressive and possibly the most ever, I am still voting for Al Oerter as the all-time greatest Olympian.  Al won his third consecutive gold medal at his third consecutive Olympics throwing the discus with a broken rib. And he never did a Subway commercial.

(4) The new "Dream Team." I cannot bring myself to root for any team where Kobe Bryant is the elder statesman, LeBron  James is the team's most dominant player, and Carmelo Anthony its best shooter.  Give me the "old school big three" of Magic, Michael and Larry and I would be happy.

(5) The most heated rivalry is between the US and Australia in the Men's 4X100m Freestyle Relay swimming event. Really?  Makes me nostalgic for the Cold War and the former East Berlin Women's  (or was it Men's?) swimming team against the US Women's team.

(6) Bob Costas.  There is no possible way I will survive two weeks of this smarmy guy who seems to be using way too much hair dye.  Give me the late Jim McKay from ABC any day.  In fact, if we could trade Brian Williams and Matt Lauer for Curt Gowdy and Keith Jackson, I would  even consider watching the equestrian events.

The last and probably most important reason why I am not looking forward to the Olympics is the commercials.  NBC has ruined the experience by cramming too many commercials around too little sports.  Once again I get nostalgic for the good old days of watching the Olympics on television (not just in primetime) as the drama of each event unfolds, uninterrupted by someone trying to sell me a Prius, Kindle or iPhone every five minutes.

So maybe in order to bring back the good old days before Bruce Jenner spoiled everything that was good and pure and exciting about the Olympics, I will just use my iPad and watch it over the Internet.


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