"The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but
taking part; the essential thing in life is not conquering but
fighting well.” --- Pierre de Coubertin, founder of modern Olympic
“If you don't try to win you might as well hold the Olympics in
somebody's back yard.” --- Olympic track and field champion Jesse
That telling exchange nicely summarizes how different people view the world. In this case French versus Americans or possibly blacks and whites.
But we're not going to plumb the depths of the human psyche here. We just threw it out there in celebration of the summer Olympics,
starting this week in a 17-day extravaganza that will be watched by
That the Olympics are once again upon us is good news on several
--- It provides a spectacular stage on which the athletes of the
world can compete.
--- In this town, at this time of year, it saves us from the
mind-numbing effects of bad baseball and endless TV reruns.
The games this year are brought to you from London, which is spending
$14.5 billion for the pleasure. The least you can do is watch.
After all, it’s the event that, once every four years, displays the
noble side of human nature, of love and camaraderie amid the
heartbreak and triumph.
No matter how awe-inspiring the Olympics may be, however, it will
still have its good, bad and ugly moments. We guess it will break
down something like this:
The good: 3500 hours of coverage spread over NBC’s various outlets.
The bad: The time difference between Los Angeles and London is eight
hours, meaning you may have to settle for kayaking during prime time.
The ugly: The Romney and Obama campaigns bought more than $12 million
of air time for political ads during the Olympics. Said one stupidly
optimistic Democratic media consultant, “ It’s great context, too.
People are already primed to think about their country.”
The good: The opening ceremony is always a tour de force. The Brits
will present a cast of 10,000 performers, 12 horses, three cows, two
goats and 10 chickens.
The bad: The cost of the Olympic opening ceremonies often exceeds the
gross national product of some of the participating nations which in a
few cases is sometimes less than 12 horses, three cows, two goats and
The ugly: With the Royal Family in in attendance, announcers will
spend so much time fawning over them that you may begin to wonder who
won the Revolutionary War.
The good: thrilling competition between the world’s elite athletes.
The bad: Some judge, smarting from the fact that his country lost a
minor border dispute some 500 years ago to an athlete’s homeland,
will adjust his scoring accordingly. The result will be declared a
scandal and cast a pall over the proceedings.
The ugly: The weather. The forecast for London is mostly soggy.
The good: The U.S. team looks like a winner.
The bad: Our heroes will parade into the stadium wearing uniforms
made in China while there are 600,000 vacant manufacturing jobs in
The ugly: What’s next? Outsourcing the athletes?
The good: The British have deployed a massive security force to
protect spectators and participants from harm including deploying
missiles atop of buildings.
The bad: Britain may have to call up more soldiers to guard the Games
after a failed private sector recruitment drive left an embarrassing
gap in security.
The ugly: Agents from the U.S. Transportation Security Administration
will take up positions at British airports where they will grope
regardless of race, creed or national origin.
The good: The Brits will stage a major Olympics concert in Hyde Park.
The bad: The headliners will be Duran Duran, a band that reached its
zenith in the 1980s.
The ugly: As one wag said, “What’s next? Leg warmers and Rubik Cubes?”
The good: For the first time, women's boxing is included in the
program, with 36 athletes competing in three different weight
The bad: Women’s softball, along with baseball, have been dumped as
Olympic sports. They are the first venues to be removed since polo in
The ugly: A special dispensation was needed to allow the various
shooting events to go ahead, which would otherwise be illegal under
Britain’s gun laws.
Good, bad or ugly, it ought to be one hell of a show. Stay tuned.