I miss terribly the 60s and 70s and part of the 80s when the Russians and the United States were athletically trying to kill each other, since by some miracle both countries realized that dropping the bomb was not a good option. It was fun to hate the Soviet Union. It was important, a way of building American pride, since we of course did it right while the Russians started grooming their own athletes from the age of six months by placing a shot put and javelin in the crib as well as estrogen and hormone tablets. There was of course the greatest sporting event in history at Lake Placid in 1980 when a scrappy U.S. Olympic beat a far superior Soviet Union in hockey, 4–3, to go on to win the gold.
The medal count meant something then, not what it does today since the Chinese, being the Chinese, purposely excel in obscure sports that no one else cares about with the exception of gymnastics, which is only interesting because Tim Daggett is even more unctuous and irritating than Matt Lauer during the opening ceremonies, and that is very, very hard and therefore bizarrely fascinating, like rubbernecking a car crash.
Call me Ishmael, but I don’t care about the synchronized-diving competition the Chinese won yesterday, except trying to figure out how exactly one decides to go into synchronized diving. It is difficult, but so is life. Much like I wonder how one becomes a beach-volleyball official from Egypt—an economic outgrowth of the Arab Spring I suppose.