As I've been tuning into the Olympics, I've been struck by the often ugly uniforms and that almost everyone on the track seems to be wearing the same yellow Nike spikes (granted the spike plates may be different, but from afar all of those uppers look the same). A better blogger might link a photo, but if you're watching the games, you've seen what I'm talking about. With the massive sponsorship by major corporations that takes place, I would think there would be a good deal of unique expression but perhaps because they are major players it results in the opposite: a merit[less]tocracy. The Men's 400m final will also be Merritt-less and, in fact, American-less, unusual for an event we generally dominate.
The Olympics was originally founded on amateurism, and certainly these days a great many of the athletes that participate, or certainly those that excel, are anything but. I am okay with this I think because it really does allow athletes to rise to another level of achievement. My gripe, however, is with the specialization of some of the events, and how it really bars many individuals, and whole countries even, from excelling at certain sports. Take swimming. You aren't gaining access to a high quality pool for hours a day if you're poor. This goes for tennis too, and anything equestrian. Now it's true that if a country focuses on a great many sports, the talent pool is diminished somewhat, but this is inevitable.
What Michael Phelps does and has done in the pool has been pretty amazing. He seems like a dick and I get annoyed when they flash the camera to his mother in the stands — I find her incredibly annoying. But I can separate performance from my perceived thoughts, even if I've heard second-hand that he's a dick and thus my thoughts there might move closer to verification than perception. I won't even make the point that I was starting too that, if many more people swam, things might get a lot more interesting than one guy asserting such heavy dominance. Instead, I'd just like TV coverage to focus a little more on some other sports, or some other athletes.
I get it, I'm watching TV in America, and the tendency is to show the events we excel at. Since the Olympics is meant to be a global event, why not show some other events we're unfamiliar with that could be interesting to watch? I'll even settle for not having Shaun White be interviewed during the men's trampoline event in gymnastics. Why is a completely niche performer (even by winter sport standards adding snowboarding was a stretch...on balance shouldn't skateboarding and BMX be in the Summer Olympics? EDIT: shortly after posting this, I saw BMX racing on TV) commenting on something he has no idea about? He even had the audacity to suggest that what they were doing was easier, because they could tuck their bodies tighter and thus maintain higher speed. I mean, they're doing something almost completely different, so please don't tell me that what you do is supposed to be harder or better...the men's trampoline champion is probably not going to jump on a snowboard and outperform Shaun White, but nor is Shaun White going to get on a trampoline and come anywhere close to their achievement.
Does anyone, even if they give a shit about Olympic Snowboarding, want to hear some dude who's good at it's uninformed opinion on a very tangentially related sport? Is that individual even tuned in to men's trampoline? Bob Costas tried to bring it in by asking if he'd done gymnastics when he was younger and that was as close as it got.
When there are a great number of commentators both knowledgeable and passionate about specific sports, why must we recycle the same heads that seem to have no specific knowledge about any of these events?
But it's cool, because amidst it all, just by sheer volume of coverage, great moments like Nathan Adrian's sincere excitement at victory and contagious joy trump moments like McKayla Maroney's Gold Medalist snub.
Also, if you can't recognize or acknowledge me in a bar when I am standing right next to you after we have met for some two or more hours, there's no need to send me an invitation to connect on LinkedIn. This is more than a suggestion. It is funny though. Hehe.