Monday, August 6, 2012

USOC: Goldfingers

So…are ya following the Olympics?  It should probably go without saying that I have been -- following the Olympics, that is.   

I still remember when Nadia Commenici took the Olympic gold for gymnastics back in 1976 -- it was electrifying, and I'm sure I was still doing cartwheels and roundoffs for months after; now, 36 years later, a young black American girl named Gabby Douglas takes home the gold medal for gymnastics?  Pretty compelling television, in my book. 

I missed the Pistorious race, unfortunately…although as I understand it, I'll have another chance to glimpse this bionic man.  Allow me to say this, and I mean no disrespect:  I think it's bullshit times two that Pistorious is allowed to participate in the "normal" Olympics.  I mean…the whole thing is just kinda crap, if ya ask me.  How is it that someone with bionic legs is permitted to participate in the "normal" Olympics against folks with "regular" legs?  Why isn't that person limited to participation in one of the several "special" Olympics? 

I dunno, it just seems kind of unfair...while we're all celebrating his overcoming adversity, what's the message that's being sent to all those young boys and girls with old-fashioned legs? 

Take the triple-jump event, for instance:  what if the participant is a double-amputee with special pogo-stick legs -- what's the difference in the two scenarios?  What if the world's fastest person had Down's Syndrome -- in which Olympics would he or she participate?  I mean, aren't Miss America contestants barred from having plastic surgery and/or implants?  What's the difference in all of this? 

Since we're on the topic of skin games:  I happened to be up early one morning, and caught the last hour of the women's marathon race or whatever it's called (I can't remember) -- talk about watching paint dry -- I mean, WOW was that some boring television.  

I'd have fallen sound asleep had it not been for my outrage,  inspired by the skimpy "uniforms" worn by the US and Chinese runners (both of whom failed to place, despite their aerodynamic attire); honestly, I'm not kidding when I say I was astonished and embarrassed by the utter absence of and want for modesty. 

Go figure -- it's hard to rationally explain many Olympic Oddities, and the Olympic organizers are a strange group of people.  In the same year they allow headscarves for female Muslim participants, they allow bikinis for female cross-country runners; how does that make sense?  

What about the Olympic Horse Jumping event -- do both jockey and horse receive a medal?  If the jockey tests clean, but the horse tests positive for doping, are both disqualified…or can the jockey get a different horse?   

Where are the horses?  Don't they count, too?

How is a horse different from a motorboat?  I'm presuming you do know that motorboating was once an Olympic sport.  MOTORBOATING.  

Boy oh boy, I bet that made for a real humdinger of a pickup line:   

"Can I buy you a drink, doll?  I once took home the Olympic gold, you know."  

"Wow, a gold medal!  In which event?" purrs the object of attention, stirring her drink with suddenly piqued curiosity. 

"'In which event?' she asks.  Take a good, long look at these forearms, baby -- what event do ya think?  Why, I'm an Olympic motorboater, of course.  It wasn't easy; it took years of practice, and I spent thousands of dollars on my Evinrude.  But enough of this chit-chat.  Come on up to my place, baby:  I'll give you my autograph and let you touch my medal…" 

So silly.

They're considering adding pole-dancing as an Olympic event.   I dunno if it's true or false, but my son tells me there's an Olympic Chess event.   Let that sink in. 

Well, if chess really is an Olympic event, then why not Olympic Monopoly (oh wait, we already have one of those here in Colorado Springs -- see my next article on the USOC).  How about Olympic Jenga?  

I'd like to suggest an event:  Olympic Typewriting…or "Keyboarding" as it's now called.  The event would be judged on various merits:  there'd be the "technicals"….in which each participant is handed a one-page manuscript written by Mike Moran (former United States Olympic Committee communications director); whoever types it fastest and most accurately wins.  Do you understand how challenging that'd be?  Each typist would have to squint and count the numbers of dots in each of Moran's many, many ellipses………..need I say more? 


Like moths to the light of a summer evening’s patio lamp, they are attracted to the prospect of an Olympic Games bid, American cities with a real shot, others without a clue, and individuals and political grandstanders seeking sound bites and attention…………and so it is again this summer, as the United States Olympic Committee goes about its mission of repairing its fractured relationship with the International Olympic Committee, ruptured by a decade of dysfunction and the actions of individuals unworthy of the moments they were accorded. As USOC Chairman Larry Probst and CEO Scott Blackmun crisscross the globe on a weekly basis as ambassadors of a revitalized and committed partner and friend of the IOC and the International sports community, as well as carefully addressing the sensitive topic of the USOC’s share of U.S. Olympic television rights and sponsor fees, they are forced to deal with continued pressures and sometimes baseless media reports related to future Olympic bids. The USOC has repeatedly stated its position on any future Olympic Games bid, which is that it will not submit an American city by the September 1 deadline for the 2020 Olympic Games, and that there were no plans at this time to consider a 2022 Olympic Winter Games bid…………in accordance, the USOC notified Los Angeles, New York, Minneapolis, Chicago, Tulsa and Dallas last week of its decision after each had expressed interest in 2020………..“With such little time left, we don’t believe we could pull together a winning bid that could serve the Olympic and Paralympic Movement,” said USOC spokesman Patrick Sandusky. That message did not, apparently, reach some in Las Vegas, and what happens there did not stay there yesterday when a Vegas group, reportedly headed by a Texas developer named Chris Milam, sent a letter to the IOC, asking the body to bypass the USOC and its decision and allow the city to enter a bid for the Games. The IOC wasted no time in throwing cold water on the Vegas bid by letter and supporting the USOC. Now, media reports state that a possible Denver 2022 Winter Games bid is being threatened by “an international dispute” between the USOC and the IOC over the revenues issue, following a decade-long Denver effort to secure a bid. The subject now has even unearthed former Colorado Governor Richard Lamm, one of the most prominent among the attention-seeking individuals from growth-control, environmental protection and anti-spending camps who torpedoed the 1976 Denver Olympic Winter Games under the mantle “Citizens For Colorado’s Future” that got a piece of legislation banning any state funds for the Games on a 1972 ballot which passed with a 60% supportive vote. The IOC responded by stripping Denver of the Games and turning to Innsbruck, which staged a success story instead. The 1976 Denver Winter Olympics venues included Alpine skiing: Beaver Creek; Nordic skiing/ski jumping: Steamboat Springs; Speed-skating arena: next to Mile High Stadium, Denver Luge complex: near Stapleton Airport; Olympic Village: University of Denver campus; Opening/closing ceremonies: Mile High Stadium……………..Despite the embarrassment of becoming the only city ever to turn back the Games, Denver remains a superb candidate for a time when the USOC feels it is appropriate to bid again. In fact, Denver actually bid again for the Winter Games, a story apparently lost in the vortex of media reporting and hyperventilating. On June 4, 1989, in Des Moines, the USOC selected Salt Lake City as its candidate for hosting the 1998 Olympic Winter Games. Salt Lake’s competition in the final balloting was Denver, Anchorage and Reno-Tahoe………the excellent Denver bid was led by Mayor Federico Pena and television executive Roger Ogden, and included several of the ill-fated 1976 venues and a proposal of a $14 million television fund-raising campaign for the USOC, which was big-time dollars at the time for the organization………..this time around, the effort embraced environmentalists and some of the former critics in the campaign. Vail-Beaver Creek was chosen as the site for Alpine skiing and Steamboat Springs for Nordic skiing. Breckenridge was the venue for Freestyle skiing, and Denver would host ice hockey and figure skating at McNichols Arena, speed skating at Denver University, and curling at the South Suburban Ice Arena. Ogden said at the time that Vail Associates might foot the bill for the construction costs for the luge and bobsled runs in the city, and that negotiations were underway with DU to possibly build and indoor speed skating arena with corporate support. In Des Moines, USOC President Robert Helmick allowed each city to make a thirty-minute presentation to the USOC Executive Committee and site selection team chaired by Sandy Knapp of Indianapolis, which had made visits and inspections of each candidate city in May. I watched each presentation and heard the Denver team address the sticky subject of what had happened in 1972 and if it might still affect the IOC voters should the USOC choose Denver again as its candidate city. In the end, Denver was eliminated on the first ballot, and Salt Lake chosen over Anchorage in the next round. Anchorage had been the USOC candidate twice before, and its officials were enraged. The USOC also stipulated that Salt Lake City would be its candidate again for 2002 if the city failed to win the 1998 Games, which is exactly what happened when Nagano won the 1998 race and Salt Lake came back to win a first-round triumph for 2002………….but here we have Lamm again today, telling the Denver Post  that the city should be careful about a future bid. “The history of the Winter Olympics has been soaked in red ink,” Lamm said. “But I know that those five rings are so glittery that they can distort people’s judgement.” Lamm apparently does not read about the Games much these days. The 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, which once hoped merely to break even on a $1.3 billion budget, wound up with a $101 million profit, organizers said. Fraser Bullock, chief executive officer of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee, said the surplus was almost double the $56 million projected in April, two months after the Games ended. A statement from the SLOC said the profit grew through unused contingency funds and cost cuts on venue restoration. There also were savings on ceremonies and litigation. The extra money will help finance U.S. sports programs and keep the venues from the Winter Olympics in shape for training and competition. And, if my memory serves me well, when Lake Placid was having problems with snowfall ahead of the 1980 Games, representatives of Colorado and then Governor Lamm, offered to host the Olympic skiing events if no solution was found. The Lake Placid organizers implemented the first artificial snow-making effort in Games history and it went off without a hitch. As we enjoy our summer day in Colorado, we are reminded that our state is the envied model of the nation in sports and sports business.Over one million spectators enjoyed the prestigious USA Pro Cycling Challengelast week and millions across the world saw a beautiful Rocky Mountain vista. The state’s ski areas have exploded in growth and popularity, and Denver is among the best sports cities in the world. Colorado Springs is the home of the USOC and 22 of its elite sport national governing bodies. The Games will again come to America, maybe to Colorado one day in the future, and one hopes that Dick Lamm has to stand in a long line for his Curling tickets.

There'd be a speed segment, i.e., race.

Then there'd be the interpretation segment of the competition:  each typist would have to decipher and make sense of a fourth-grader's handwritten essay paper draft.  For the artistic portion, participants would have five minutes to think up and type a one-page essay on any one of a list of topics: 

Surely, a controversy would arise concerning the fairness (or lack thereof) surrounding the gold medal win by a little black spider from Colorado Springs:  "...but Judge, of course she finished faster -- she was typing with eight legs!

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