Monday, August 25, 2008

Game Week!

It's game week in my house and I will be making the trek to Lincoln this weekend. Here are a few videos to get you ready.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Olympics Part Deux

I'm still watching the Olympics religiously...a few thoughts:

1. Michael Phelps is incredible, I don't think he's the "greatest athlete in the world" as some have dubbed him, but others have called him the greatest Olympian of all-time and that's probably correct. There's really nothing new to be said about Phelps.

2. I'm struck by the differences in our athletes compared to almost all of the rest of the world(with a few exceptions). Team USA looks like it lifts weights and eats meat, many of the other athletes do not. Even in women's gymnastics, our athletes have thick, muscular thighs and hips and the Chinese (for one example) team's uniforms can barely stay on because they are so thin and willowy.

3. I don't follow track and field closely, but I've never seen anything like the Jamaican sprinter Bolt. It's almost as if he can go as fast as he wants, there doesn't appear to be a limit to his top speed. There's no way to know his actually time in the 100 because at varying points in the last few days he has shut down his run with between 15-40 meters to go...simply incredible.

4. The so-called "Redeem Team" should easily win the gold, it looks like Coach K has this program back on the rails, I can't imagine a team staying with 20 points of Team USA from here on out, barring a rash of injuries or a complete breakdown on the court.

5. I was thinking about women's athletics. There are many individual sports that the United State's doesn't seem to be able to compete in at the highest level, but in team sports, we are almost unmatched. I started thinking about this and I think it comes back to Title IX. Title IX is a law passed in 1972 that makes it illegal for people to be excluded from education based on sex. The most common application of this law is it's effect on high school and college athletics. In an ideal world, this would mean that boys, girls, men, and women would have access to any educational or extra-curricular program they would be interested in. In the real world, money is a consideration, and you can't offer everything under the sun for people to participate in. So, the compromise has been that there have to be an equal number of sports slots of men and for women (this is an entirely different column, but in my personal opinion they should just take football out of the equation for title IX, and match up the rest of the sports. There isn't an equivalent sport to match for women so it just ends up hurting student athletes...but I digress); unfortunately, this means that some men's sports have been cut in recent years. Men's swimming, diving, and wrestling are popular cuts for high schools and colleges to make; it's an unlucky, but necessary application of the law.
On the other hand, this has created many, many opportunities for girls and young women that other countries simply don't (or can't) provide. Women that are of Olympic age in 2008, have spent their entire lives competing intercollegiately, so they have a great understanding of the intricacies of sport and the team concept. It gives them a real advantage on the playing today, I say "Hurray!" to Title IX.

6. This brings me to my thoughts on China. First of all, I really want to visit. The country looks extraordinary, and so much of it was closed off to the west for so long, that there would be a lot of excitement in just setting foot in China.
I, like many others, were very curious to see what China would look like when peeled back for all the world to see. An article I've linked here: LINK
in a British online paper, is disturbing. According to the article, China has created a beautiful games for the world to enjoy, unfortunately most of their citizens are unable to enjoy it in the same manner. They apparently aren't allowed to assemble, have limited internet access which makes subjects such as Chinese history, Tibet, wikipedia, or any topics that the communist party might deem subversive(behind a firewall their government has cleverly named the Great Firewall), no true freedom of religion, speech, etc. Shamefully, some American companies such as Yahoo and Google appear to be complicite in this effort by altering their search engines and giving in to Chinese pressure. There is much about China that appears ready to "break out" and join the world stage. There also appears to be a ruling elite that is trying desperately to stay as the elite and not allow any visible signs of disention.
In totalitarian regimes I've always wondered what the point is to all the secrecy? If someone can read about Tiananmen Square, what's the big deal? Maybe's it's all just over my capitalist head, but it seems much ado about nothing. I'm fortunate, because no one in China will be able to read my critical thoughts on China...I checked, and is blocked by the Great Firewall!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

The Olympics

I love the Olympics. Love them. I don't understand people that don't want to watch the Olympics from start to finish. There is so much human drama, so many amazing moments, and thanks to cable television, now I can watch 3500 hours of uninterrupted coverage!

The United States has had a lot of great Olympic moments, and many of them came against Russia (or the Soviet Union), but this year it's different. In the coverage of the games I've seen so far, the Russians just don't look the same. They already seem defeated. Instead, China has risen to take the spot of arch-nemesis to the United States, sort of like Lex Luthor to our Superman.

To me, the Olympics are also a time to become an expert in a bunch of sports that I know nothing about. Sort of like horseracing when the Kentucky Derby is about to start. All of a sudden I start spouting all sorts of nonsense that I read on the internet and pass it off as my own. Normally, you couldn't pay me to watch gymnastics, but during the Olympics, I'm glued...glued I tell you! Same with syncronized diving, badminton, fencing, one-man dingy racing, and basketball...okay, I'm kidding about the basketball, I actually do know a thing or two about that sport.

So, if you can only watch one thing this August, make sure it's the Foxsports Net preview of Nebraska football, but if you can watch two things make sure the second one is the Olympics.

More to come on the Olympics...including my thoughts on China...