Saturday, August 23, 2008

Yo, Meathead!

So contrary to popular belief, Ed and I do still write this blog….

Never thought I’d see the day, but the main focus of today’s piece is the Olympics.

I never really got into the Olympics before—I usually stick to baseball and football (I used to watch basketball before the NBA players grew so out of touch with their fans, and as for college hoops, I really only watch the March tournament). However, my wife is a fan of the Olympics, so we watched.

I have to say that it’s been fun—to a certain extent. The other side of the coin is that watching the Olympics has stoked my cynicism for sporting events yet again.

Let’s start with the opening ceremony. What better way for China to proclaim itself as an up and coming power than to put on an unmatched display of overkill. “Look, world,” the blatant show of excess seemed to say. “We can waste as many resources on frivolity as the Americans do!” What about using some of the money that was spent on this ceremony to feed a few of the millions of poor people in China, or to help find cures for the diseases that run rampant through the poor villages that have no electricity or running water? What about using it to clean up the polluted Chinese rivers from which the rural villagers must drink and wash, exposing them to cancers and other results of toxic chemicals?

Besides that, everyone has heard of the little Chinese girl who was not allowed to sing on camera because she wasn’t cute enough. Instead, her voice was used with another little girl who lip-synched her way through the song. Gross!

Then there are the games themselves. The displays of athleticism were surely amazing, and most of the athletes deserve only the highest amount of credit for performing at the top of their game while the world watched. But…

The scoring for some of the events that require subjective judging sure seemed fishy. I’m still unsatisfied by the explanation of the tie-breaker that led to He Kexin of China’s gold medal over American Nastia Liukin in the uneven bars. And I can’t believe the scoring for the women’s vault—China’s Cheng Fei actually stumbled and fell on her landing, and North Korea’s Hong Un Jong took a big step on hers, but both got higher scores than Alicia Sacramone of the United States, receiving medals for their performances, while Sacramone finished fourth. How does Cheng even stay in the competition when she fell?

Of course, the entire Chinese women’s gymnastics team is under suspicion since at least three of the members are thought to be underage, including He. Thank goodness the International Federation of Gymnastics (FIG) is currently investigating such claims. The Chinese are calling the claims sour grapes by the Americans, but if the Chinese have nothing to hide, why did web pages with the girls’ ages as 14 suddenly disappear after they were first noted? (Gymnasts must turn 16 in the Olympic year to qualify.) And doesn’t it seem a bit dodgy that the passports for all three girls who are thought to be underage were issued within the past 6 months? If the Chinese have nothing to hide, why don’t they just produce the documents that FIG is requesting and remove any chance of suspicion? Cheating in sports is still cheating, no matter how you do it or what sport it is. The Chinese might as well be taking steroids if they’re going to cheat. (He Kexin, meet Barry Bonds….)

There are many other things going on that make the Olympics a trash heap of scandal: The 56 “ethnic” children that were supposed to represent China’s 56 ethnic groups in the opening ceremony were really all from the dominant Han majority. The Cuban taekwondo expert kicked a judge in the face after his disqualification, resulting in a possible lifetime ban from the sport. The Ukraine women’s heptathlete was disqualified for doping. The German equestrian favorite was disqualified for doping his horse. The list goes on; feel free to add others in the comments section if you can think of any I missed.

It’s enough for any American to say, “Thank goodness for Michael Phelps!” Of course, the way the media fawned all over Phelps was just as revolting as all the scandal.

Just another day of sports in the 21st century….

SEASONINGS: I want everyone to know that I took my mother-in-law to the Mariners–A’s game last night. Anyone else ever do something like that? It was actually a lot of fun! Thanks, Bev!

Also, Ed, can you please tell your Dodgers to try harder against the Phillies this weekend? I’d love for the Mets to have a little more breathing room at the top of the NL East, even though they’ve won 10 of their last 11!


ed said...

Thanks for a great post, Meat! I have been so busy editing a book and at work that I have not been able to blog like I should. My Dodgers suck, so I am ready for the NFL!

Meathead said...

No worries, Ed, but I wouldn't say the Dodgers are so bad right now!