Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Random Thoughts from the World of Sports

The Olympics are a big part of my sports experience. I recall being disappointed with the U.S. boycotting the Moscow Olympics, but I also understood us needing to take a stand against Russia. The Los Angeles Olympics in 1984 were significant for me, not only because I watched as much coverage of the games as I possibly could, but I was able to assist with the Torch Relay as it came through Boise. I still have a picture of me and my friend John holding the torch, it was pretty cool. I was able to attend the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics, where my friend Dave and I watched some hockey, aerial skiing, and spent some time in Calgary just running about and taking in the games itself. I've since watched Olympics go through various countries, the Winter Olympics go on a different schedule, and my personal experience of getting shut out of tickets to the Salt Lake games. I might try and travel to Vancouver BC in 2010, not only because the Winter Games are fun but I know the city well. But it's with great distress that I say that I'm not happy with what's happening now in Beijing.

It only slightly bothers me that someone lip synced a song in the opening ceremony because they thought the original girl wasn't pretty enough, and after seeing the actual footage on TV, it's annoying that some of the firework shots at the Opening Ceremonies were computer enhanced. I've heard that China is wanting to pull out all of the stops to put on the best ceremony ever, but simply put, this whole thing strikes me as a nation that is trying way too hard. We all know China doesn't have the best record of being an open country, nor do they deal with protests very well. Everything in their world is extremely structured, and the government controls all, even during this Olympics where the world was promised that we would see a new China. I'd think that with their human rights records and general bad impression on the world front, you'd want to be careful about things. But apparently a pretty face and computer images are supposed to make us all forget about Darfur and Tibet.

What I'm most irritated about is NBC's attempt to cover the Olympics. I'm used to watching sporting events that actually show coverage, provide analysis for what happened, and show the results. But the Olympics coverage is tailored more for the casual sports fan, as the coverage is littered with human interest stories, supposed live events that are cut and edited, and the footage is extremely slanted towards the US. I realize that NBC actually has numerous channels available to watch sports, and I've watched some of those channels simply to get away from the main feed. If an event is truly live, I'd expect it not to be interrupted with updates from other venues or in tonight's coverage, go from a supposedly live gymnastics competition to a swimming final and skip a whole turn. Seriously, it's as if NBC is thinking the viewers are all stupid and need to be force fed some patriotism and USA pride. I just want to watch events...

Which really gets frustrated when you have dozens of sports that rely on judging to determine results. I can respect most sports that have a clear cut winner because somebody scored more points, threw the object farther, jumped higher, ran faster or whatever. But to watch something where most participants do the same things and then have someone that is an expert determine who is better at spinning or tumbling or diving without really giving me, the viewer, any sense why one is better than another is dumb. A sport that needs to be judged is a sport that will create drama even if there's the smallest concern that something isn't right or there's inconsistencies in scores. When you rely on someone's perception to determine a winner, you run the risk of inconsistency and bias almost every time. Yet sports like baseball and softball aren't Olympic sports after this competition because they don't represent Olympic ideals. Yet tumbling and synchronized diving, gymnastics and boxing are, even with reports of judging issues in many past Olympics.

I can't take credit for the last point, it was discussed on the Morning Sports Page on 95.5 the Game during their morning show. I like the new format, and Gavin Dawson is a fresh approach to the sports game. He's a guy's guy but he also add some thoughtful comments and sensitivity to certain topics, plus he's a footy guy so that is a plus in my book. But seriously, guys, the problem with the previous morning show was that they talked Trail Blazers all the time, and I'm fearing this new version is risking the same issue. I love my NBA team, but I don't need to hear about every little move they make. I understand we are in a one major sport town, but there are lots of other things to talk about from the world of sports that are interesting. The talk didn't stop me from buying a quarter season ticket package for the Trail Blazers for me and girl, though, as I do need to see what all the fuss is about with this team.

After the Timbers match this weekend which I'll talk about a bit on Thursday/Friday in a preview as we face Montreal and then some afterwards, I'm going to get a new sporting experience. The LPGA Safeway Classic is next week at Columbia Edgewater, and I'm actually volunteering to caddy during the Pro-Am tournament on Monday. The proceeds for my volunteer work go towards Trillium Family Services, and at the very least, I will pick up some pointers for my golf game and spend some time outdoors. I will admit I don't watch golf on television because I find it extremely boring, yet I'll go out and swing the sticks anytime. Golf is a participation sport in my opinion, and watching it on television just doesn't have the same appeal for me as being there in person. Who knows, maybe I'll meet some famous golfers.

That's it for now, talk to you all later this week.

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