By Bob Hiller –
Well, sports fans, buckle your patriotic safety belts, because it is time to cheer on the good ol’ US of A in the 2016 Summer Olympic games. I have to confess; I am a sucker for the Olympics. I get all giddy when I hear the “BA-BUM-BA-BUM-BUM” of NBC’s Olympic soundtrack. I find the opening ceremonies captivating (Though, in the case of China a few years back, I found them utterly terrifying!). I get caught up in the human interest stories about the kids who learned to run on the battlefields of their war-torn countries wearing nothing but dreams on their feet because they couldn’t afford shoes. And I love watching my own kids get all fired up to cheer for their country.
One of the things about the Olympics that I find amusing is that it gives us permission to act in ways that are just not acceptable at any other time. So, in order to help you relax during your Olympic watching experience, I thought I would share with you a few things you are allowed to do ONLY during the Olympics (WARNING: your friends may, rightly or wrongly, punch you for such things at any other time.)
- Revel in American Superiority—I know that it is not very chic to be patriotic these days. We are supposed to be cynical and negative about our country or whatever. But, as my Jagged homie Graham is happy to point out, we live in the best country in the world! So, when Michael Phelps hits the water and smokes the Australians (pun intended), or Carmelo Anthony puts up 28 points in six minutes on some inferior Eastern European squad, pride will appropriately swell your chest as a reminder that this is the best freaking country in the world! Forget the chaos that is our nation’s election year, and enjoy the envy all over that Canadian bronze medalist’s face as he has to hear the Star-Spangled Banner again! America (You know the rest…)!
- Watch Gymnastics—That’s right. Grown men who are neither coaches nor fathers of the participants are allowed to watch gymnastics. Any other time, if you show up to Taco Tuesday telling the guys you watched some dude on the parallel bars or some teenage girl on a balance beam, you would get smacked and have to buy the beers and tacos. But not so during the Olympics! I knew a man once (whether in the body or in the spirit, I cannot say) who sat on the edge of his couch with his four-year-old daughter yelling, “C’mon, Gabby (Douglas)! You can do this! For America!” There is no shame in that. Not during the Olympics!
- Turn Off Bob Costas—Look, I may be in the minority here, but I am a Costas fan. The dude knows sports and is a baseball genius. But let’s be honest, you can only stomach so much of his snark. After two weeks of listening to him pretend to care about what happened to the Nigerians in the latest fencing match, you just want to cut your ears off with those Nigerian’s foil.* By day ten, it is clear to every member of the home audience that even Costas is sick of his smug jokes. Oh, and whenever you see Mary Carillo sitting on the couch across from Costas, run, don’t walk, to the fridge for a prolonged snack break. The banter is about to become insufferable, and the human interest story is going to lack, well, anything of interest!
*Olympic pro tip: I learned a “foil” is what they call the sword in fencing by visiting the indispensable guide for all your Olympic informational needs: Wikipedia. Have you seen that site? It is a wealth of information about every sport played in Brazil this summer and more!
I suppose there is a great deal more the Olympics allow you to do. They may inspire you to take up a new sport like rowing or shooting. They may allow you to convince your boss to let you watch TV at work because only a Philistine or a doped-up Russian spy would prevent you from cheering on your country. I suppose the only thing you can’t do with the Olympics is gamble on the events. I mean, if you bet against the US, you may win money, but at what cost? Treason? You, who would bet against your country, how do you sleep at night or look your kids in the eye? For shame. Gambling has no place in the Olympic realm. Gambling belongs to the NFL. Wait, did someone say football?!?! Never mind, Olympics. A real sport is just around the corner!