Sarasota notes from this year’s Beijing sports spectacular.
By Hannah Wallace
My new hero.
Aside from my reccurring nightmares in which the planet’s sole language consists of one word, “phelps,” I didn’t think I was Olympicsed out. But as I sit down to write this blog two days after the closing ceremonies, it already feels like incredibly old news. Still, because I spent the last two weeks watching handball, water polo and discus, I’m going to post it anyway. So here now, my summer Olympics superlatives:
Most entertaining commentator: Bela Karolyi. You don’t know what he’s saying, but man, is he excited about it.
Most annoying celebration: The U.S. men’s gymnastics team. Realizing they’d scored a bronze in the all-around, the whiteboys in tights strutted and flexed in front of the camera shouting, “Yeah! That’s how we do.” Comment from the men’s basketball team: “Kudos, fellas, but perhaps you should consider a more appropriate vernacular.” I was rooting for them, too, and then? Iiiii...kinda wished they would've shut up.
Best celebration: Misty May-Treanor, who again sprinkled some of her mother’s ashes on the beach volleyball court after winning gold.
Worst irony: After the U.S. team’s decade-long dominance caused the IOC to remove softball from future Olympics, the U.S. women lost the final game to Japan.
Biggest disappointment: Boxing. Or what I like to call “competitive hugging.” There was a whole channel devoted to boxing, but it sucked. I’ve seen bar fights with better technique. Hell, I’ve participated in bar fights with better technique.
The right hook headlock ear-nibble--one of the more common boxing techniques at this year's Olympics.
Worst misstep: Lolo Jones, who was a full step in front of the field when she stumbled over the ninth hurdle in the 100-meter hurdles final race. She came in seventh, and sat on her knees just past the finish line for five minutes with a look of disbelief nearing tears. A few minutes later, she gave a charming, smiling, articulate interview—stopping mid-sentence to hug the silver medalist from Australia as she passed. But a few minutes after that, the camera caught her standing in the tunnel by herself, sobbing.
Lolo Jones, after going from first to seventh in a heartbeat.
Best name: Usain “Lightning” Bolt. The 6’5” Jamaican sprinter virtually stopped to sign autographs on his way to the finish line in the 100 meters, and he still broke the world record.
Worst petition of a referee's decision: A Cuban tae kwon do competitor was permanently banned from Olympics competition after kicking a referee in the face.
The gold medal for stupidity.
Best joke: From Television Without Pity Olympics coverage, a commentator complained about hearing an infant in the crowd during gymnastics competition; her husband assured her that it was just one of the Chinese competitors.
Best competing programming: Animal Planet’s “Puppy Games.” If you haven’t watched it, surely you think I’m a moron, but seriously, Animal Planet’s vaguely sports-themed footage of puppies playing (they did this during the Super Bowl, too) has to be the most brilliant low-budget programming ever. It’s sort of like cuteoverload.com: You have no idea how soothing it’s going to be until you find yourself watching. And smiling. And forgetting to change the channel back to the actual Olympics. During the puppy swimming “competition,” CCB was actually screaming at the judges—who were goldfish—for, in his mind, underscoring the Dalmatian’s performance. Seriously, cursing at goldfish. It was awesome. This is how we do.