There’s still a week left of the 2012 Olympic Games and I’m already planning for 2016. I’ve been setting aside money because we’re going to need someone to clean the house and cook. I can’t pass off Cocoa Puffs as dinner for very much longer, and the dogs aren’t doing a very good job at cleaning or folding the laundry – in part because of their lack of opposable thumbs. So far, there’s only $1.27 in my Save the Farm jar, but I’ve got four more years to add to that – two, if I fall apart again during the 2014 Winter Games.
Michael Phelps. Three Olympic Games, 22 medals, 18 of which are gold. I know that those aren’t complete sentences but they do get the point across. He is a one man wonder, and I’m so glad that he’s our hero. The best part is that he accomplished all of this without ever losing his humility. His own idol is Michael Jordan, and Phelps is being compared to Tiger Woods in terms of his athletic abilities. I think he’s got them both beat and I hope his retirement is a productive, and lucrative, one. Secretly, I’d like to see him in Rio, though, and I think his mother might be with me on this one.
Also among those who deserve our recognition and pride are those five teenage pixies of the women’s gymnastic team. Fifteen year old Jordyn Wieber managed to put a huge disappointment, a stupid rule change that kept her out of individual competition, to pull herself together and help bring her team to win a gold medal. I’m not sure that I could do the same thing in under thirty-six hours. It speaks volumes about what makes an Olympic champion. Then we have the aptly nicknamed “flying squirrel” Gabby Douglas. She too did something for her sport, for Olympic history and for all the little girls who dream of soaring through the floor mat competition and making the uneven parallel bars look easy. Gabby became the first African-American to win the Gold Medal in the Women’s All Around and the first member of a U.S. team to win both that competition and team gold in the same Olympics.
Our women’s basketball team is now 5-0, after today’s game against China. The final score in that game was 114-66, a score which tied an Olympic point record and means that the U.S. has won 38 straight Olympic games. The men beat Lithuania in their last match with a score of 99-95. Maybe the men should watch the women and do exactly what they do.
There have been some strange goings on as well. During the badminton competition, South Korea, China and Indonesia decided to try to throw some games by losing. They weren’t even good at faking how badly they were playing. The goal was to lose in order to play against less competitive teams in future matches, but even a toddler could have figured out their awful plan. Crowds booed. Officials warned them. Then they were simply disqualified. I guess the best laid plans of mice and men really do go astray. There have also been accusations of doping by the athletes, something which is bandied about by one country against another during almost every Olympiad. We also learned that the athletes are paid for earning their medals, and taxed on those earnings. I didn’t even know that there was any kind of monetary incentive, so I’m torn over the tax issue. I did find out that some other countries put some real money on the table per medal, with bonuses in excess of $100,000(USD) in some cases. Who knew?
We were also informed about things which we really didn’t need to know. Ryan Lochte revealed that he loses control of his bladder when he hits the pool’s chlorinated water. I didn’t need that information any more than I needed to know about his parents’ mortgage troubles or the financial problems faced by Gabby Douglas’ mother. If those last two pieces of news were meant to evoke sympathy, then it was a failure on the part of NBC. It’s one thing to give us the back stories of how these athletes came to be champions. It’s another matter entirely when a network is poking around someone’s very private and personal economic struggles. One more thing – at the risk of sounding just the tiniest bit disloyal to all of our American athletes, I’m still quietly rooting for Oscar Pistorius. Like so many others, his is the kind of story which makes for Olympic magic.
I also wanted to share a link of another future Olympic hopeful. He might be ready to compete before he starts collecting Social Security.
Some Thoughts About The Economy and Charity
Maybe I’m caught up in the emotion of the Games, but I hope you’ll bear with me for a moment. I have seen pleas for help from some charitable organizations which have found themselves in real trouble – even to the point of considering stopping their activities – because of the economy. One of those is our local STAR program, with which I’ve been involved. I know the community will rally to their side and see to it that the students don’t lose what they so love. I’d like you to try to find some way to help out other agencies and charities in your own area that may be in need right now. It really doesn’t take much to make a big difference to them – the cost of a dinner and a movie can buy supplies or keep the doors open for any number of these good and worthwhile groups.
This is Jesse, one of the STAR students, riding his noble steed. Just try to resist that smile – it’s got gold medal written all over it.