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And the gold medal for best camel-toe goes to…

Submitted by on August 6, 2012 – 4:58 pmNo Comment

The Summer Olympics have won me, I’ll admit, in spite of my overexposure to that disingenuous, blue-eyed shit Bob Costas and all of the pronounced dongs-in-tights I have to abide to watch my now-favorite running events. It wasn’t long ago (try three days) that I thought of the Olympics only as a bunch of maladjusted almost-adults living a dream that would serve them no use after their twenty-second birthday. I didn’t watch because it was depressing to think about the thousands and thousands who gave their whole lives to a niche sport and fell short of the “Olympic Dream.” Becoming an Olympic athlete is such an incredible sacrifice of time that it’s hard to imagine people being ready for life afterwards in any sort of meaningful way.

I still feel that way, to an extent, and many of the interviews with athletes don’t do much to dissuade me. To be one of the best divers/javelin throwers/long-distance runners in the world, I imagine you have to give up much of the socialization and education that turns most people into productive adults. That isn’t to say that I had cast every Olympian in the same light, even before the Games won me over.

Listen to pretty much any of the Jamaican runners, for example, and you hear gregarious, driven, dedicated people who seem perfectly capable of doing anything they want after their bodies can no longer hold up to the Olympic standard — and there are plenty of other “great quotes” scattered across all countries and events. It’s just that the whole thing had a depressing undertone that kept me away – especially from the Summer Olympics – until this year.

It’s true that I only started watching because I had nothing better to do. The Phillies are having a cursed season, the Flyers are still a couple months away, and football that matters hasn’t started yet. Plus, summer TV sucks and the Olympics are on half the channels anyway, so I relented. It didn’t take long to get sucked into something I never thought I’d be watching. The first event I saw was synchronized women’s diving. I mean, really. I started out cracking jokes and generally taking the whole thing less-than-seriously. Then the medal round came on, and I found myself rating the divers right along with the judges.

“She really got great extension and rotation on that dive, didn’t she?”

Ok, I didn’t quite get that in depth about it, but it wasn’t too hard to tell who was good and who wasn’t. I was amazed when the winning team pulled off a dive that seemed almost perfectly synchronous. I know, I know – thus is the point of synchronized diving. Still, it got me. I always thought that I’d have a hard time getting invested in sports I didn’t understand, but there I was cheering for divers like I had a clue what I was talking about.

That night, I also watched some of the track prelims – 100 meter, 400, and so on. That’s what really hooked me. I had to know who won the finals, and of course I wanted to see Usain Bolt (one of the few Olympic athletes I’d heard of) blow away some records. So I watched another night, and another, and here I am waiting today for the good stuff to come on in primetime.

The drama of sport is always great, and the Olympics are chock full. I actually like the “human interest” stories, too, because they do what they’re designed to do – get me invested in each event. I wanted to see Sonya Richards-Ross win for her cool-looking parents and NFL QB husband, and all of the people rooting for her at home. Her redemption was a great thing to watch. She learned from her mistakes in the last Olympics and used those lessons to win gold this time. Great stuff.

There were also some people for whom I wished failure. Mckayla Maroney, for example, could be seen on the sidelines sniffing her shit and reporting that it smelled like roses. Pretty sure NBC did a whole feature on it. I wasn’t rooting against her, per se, but I certainly got a little excited when she fell on her face after the commentators handed her the medal before the event even started. Women’s gymnastics, by the way, is what led to the title of this piece. I could not stop laughing at them adjusting their coochie-floss leotards before every attempt. It’s the female equivalent of MLB players who adjust their junk between every pitch.

After watching Miss Maroney react to her loss, I couldn’t help but feel validated in my pleasure that it happened. She couldn’t have taken her defeat with less grace. Just look at her “hugging” the winner:

I certainly wish no ill will towards Mckayla in the future. She’s sixteen, after all, and pretty much had the event in the bag going in. It had to be tough to lose, and she was fucking amazing on her first vault. I just hope that she comes back next time with some stinkier shit, so to speak. Bitterness in defeat is not a good look.

Overall, though, the athletes have been a breath of fresh air. Sure, there was that US relay swimmer who talked for five minutes without breathing, and some other folks who didn’t seem to know how to do much more than long jump/sprint/whatever, but most of the athletes seem like pretty normal people. They also have great back-stories.

I just assumed that I’d be rooting for the red, white, and blue straight on down the line, but stories like that of Shelley-Ann Fraser-Pryce and her mother making the best of a tough upbringing had me cheering for athletes I’d previously never heard of, from countries that aren’t my place of residence. It makes the whole thing much more interesting.

So from now on, I’ll try not to judge the Olympics so harshly, and I’ll certainly be tuning in for more than just ice hockey at the next Winter Olympics. I do hope that NBC gets rid of Costas, the most bloated sack of hot air this side of Rush Limbaugh, and also cans the lady who traveled around doing those stupid spots about James Bond and whatnot, just because she came off as incredibly fake and face-bleedingly annoying. She could definitely land a job on the Today Show. And I know it must be hard to find qualified, interesting commentators for things like Men’s Gymnastics or Curling, but they could at least try. Still, this isn’t about bitching but celebrating something new. In spite of my annoyances with and preconceptions of the Olympics, I’ve found that it’s something I can really enjoy. In a Summer where the next best thing has been betting on the next Phillie to get injured, I’ll take it.

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