A few thoughts as the Olympics wind down.
* I really enjoy being able to watch sports that aren’t on very much and athletes who are not millionaire egos. It’s nice to watch people who compete because its fun, they enjoy it, for country, etc. It’s much more pure than the big marketing machine that is major sports in this country, with supser-sized contracts and endorsements and egos.
* One sport I have discovered that is fun to watch is Team Handball. If you have a chance, see if you can catch the Gold Medal match (if it’s on – most likely on Bravo or MSNBC). It’s fast-paced and is kind of like a cross between soccer and basketball if that makes any sense.
* I really enjoyed watching the US women win gold in an intense match with Brazil yesterday. They faught hard and sent some of their retiring vets out on top – players who put women’s soccer on the map, like Mia Hamm. They did a lot of good for the sport. I hope they are successful in resurrecting the WUSA because it is so different than most professional sports in this country in presenting better role models, a kid-friendly environment, etc.
* Finally I gotta comment on the Paul Hamm situation. It is absolutely ridiculous that he is being pressured by the international gymnastics association to give his gold medal to the Korean guy. The judges made a mistake in one of the Koreans events and it cost him 1/10 of a point, which would have been enough to give him gold. BUT, if they’re going to rely on replay review, they should review everything. If they did that, they would apparently catch another judging mistake which would cost the Korean an automatic 2/10 point deduction.
But even without that, it’s still silly. Imagine that a couple days after the Super Bowl, the NFL were to decide that a ref made a bad call that cost one team the game. Would they then go take the Lombardi trophy away from the winning team and give it to the losing team? Of course not. Officiating is part of sports.
One more comment – this all reaffirms my belief that sports that rely on judging aren’t as good as sports that rely on head to head competition. In a race there’s no question who the winner is, same thing in a soccer game. Judging, as in gymnastics, brings another level of subjectivity and uncertainty to the whole thing. (Remember what happened in the figure skating at the Winter Olympics – the corrupt French judge and all that?). I wonder if, instead of being an American gymnast and being, say a Romanian, if they would still be hounding him and asking him for the medal back. Maybe.
So he should keep the gold medal without apologies.