Things you need to know about the Olympics

Here’s a quick breakdown of the hard-hitting aspects of the Games you might not hear on a major news station.

  • The Olympics always remind passionate sports fans like myself just how many sports we don’t understand.
  • The Olympics quickly makes us experts in these sports, though.
  • It must feel a little weird for non-returning participants in the last summer Olympics to watch the current go-around, especially if the athletes were on the fence as to whether to try and come back this time, or if they did try to come back and barely missed the cut.  I would love for someone to interview Shawn Johnson right now.
  • Related: if I worked at NBC, I would actually be a little worried about TV ratings (assuming I’m the kind of person who would worry about TV ratings, ever).  For some reason Phelps having the most medals ever seems less important to root for than Phelps winning eight golds in one Olympics, and our women’s gymnastics team is, on average, less attractive than their counterparts from four years ago.  Since swimming and gymnastics are the sports that everyone most fervently becomes a temporary expert in every four years, these things might actually matter.
  • Seeing athletes from less developed countries compete fills me with a mix of admiration and guilt, in that people from countries where having clean water is a salient concern have gotten more out of their bodies than I have.
  • There have been spectators, plural, dressed in Captain America costumes.  I really couldn’t be more proud of this country unless Kenny Powers showed up and made a “Real American” entrance.
  • Speaking of entrances, Kobe Bryant made the classiest/coolest entrance of any American athlete at the opening ceremonies by not having a phone/video recorder out and glancing with derision at people who did.  And by looking completely at home in his hat.
  • Tunisia basketball is the only men’s hoops participant without an NBA player, but they are also the only participant with a player named Makrem Ben Romdhane (pronounced “Ben-Ramadan”), which is probably more important.  He actually played really well against the US, scoring 22 and adding 11 boards.
  • The canoe/kayak venue is the coolest place at the Olympics, pending further observation.  It’s a manmade river that looks like a whitewater raft ride at an amusement park.
  • As of today Kazakhstan is in fifth place in the medal count, with 3 golds.  Let’s run through some facts.  1) NBC is on the record as saying they are all about coverage catering to Americans. 2) The Olympics are in Great Britain. 3) Sacha Baron Cohen is British.  How has an in-character interview not happened?  The only thing that could beat out NBC’s rampant homerism its desire to appear very sophisticated.
  • This is unverified, but I’m pretty sure India has the worst medals-to-population ratio.  Horribly inefficient.  Generally Australia epitomizes the opposite and wins a lot of medals despite having a fairly small population.  This is, obviously, because people from Australia are automatically physically impressive by virtue of still being alive in a country occupied mainly by poisonous animals.  You can monitor the race for most medals per capita here.
  • The Visa commercial that runs EVERY SINGLE COMMERCIAL BREAK would have gotten old way sooner if it weren’t narrated by Morgan Freeman.
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