08 August 2008

Olympics in China

I've never been excited about the Olympics, not that I can remember. What I do remember though, is Greg Louganis hitting his head on the diving board in 1988. The reason I saw that is because my family was gathered in my Auntie Helen's living room watching those Olympics. I may have been too young to realize it then, but now it's clear to me that the Olympics then were an Event, capital E. Sure, I saw Kerri Strug carried off with a busted ankle in 1996, but even then it was because some cousins were at my house and had monopolized the TV. Since then, the Winter and Summer games have passed with very little notice. Really the only news to me was that U.S. Men's Basketball actually had some competition and Shaun White started kicking snow and skateboarding ass the way we all expected him to. Unfortunately, I didn't see Derek Redmond helped across the finish line by his father until VISA chopped it into marketing material.
(Sorry about the video quality, but it was the only one I could find without Creed music). If you can watch that without tearing up even a little, you're probably dead inside.

For some reason though, I'm pretty excited about these Olympics (even though NBC will decide which sports we want to watch), and it's not just because the U.S. Olympic team is looking rather dapper for the opening ceremony (which they do). There really is a simple explanation for my interest (and a bunch of other people's too): these Olympics are in China. As many people have written, maybe it's right that the Olympics in China feels so wrong. Also, as much as I'm getting sick of ESPN and it's barrage of "news," ESPN page 2 writer Jim Caple's article about the Beijing Olympics points out that the Summer Games could and should put China's faults into the world spotlight. To be sure, a lot of other writers have made the same claim, but I linked Caple's story because of this quote:

And not to sound like an apologist for China's government, but before we get too high and mighty with our moralizing, we should pause to look in the mirror. Yes, China's policies in Tibet and Darfur are contemptuous. Then again, there are many U.S. policies and actions that draw international ire, as well.

While that isn't the most damning critique of some current U.S. policies, this was one of the few articles I found that didn't seem to blast China and praise the U.S. He does expand on it, but I'll let you read it for yourself if you want, and I think you should. I don't know if it's possible, but there is something about the controversy about these games that has me feeling the world might witness another Tommie Smith moment, a moment where an athlete or athletes uses the world spotlight to take a stand and send a political message. Of course I'll watch for the sports, because in all sports, anything can happen, but I'll also be hoping to see someone send their message.

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