“Spanning the globe to bring you the constant variety of sport… the thrill of victory… and the agony of defeat… the human drama of athletic competition… This is ABC’s Wide World of Sports! ”
That opening started one of my favorite programs when I was a youth.
ABC’s Wide World of sports eventually evolved into ESPN. However, the Wide World of Sports concentrated on what I hate to call “minor” or little known or promoted sports—hence, the “constant variety of sport.”
The Wide World of Sports wanted to do a program on the OMBAC Over-the-Line Tournament but OMBAC refused to tone down the names of the teams. I am proud of OMBAC, not because they allow teams to use politically incorrect and downright vulgar names, but because they refused to sell out.
In an earlier column I pondered why the powers that be only televise some sports every four years. Now I know. Some of the Olympic sports are so boring for the majority of viewers that even having them aired every four years might be pushing it. The Olympics truly is an example of “spanning the globe to bring you the constant variety of sport.”
I am biased. I am a big fan of team sports, a big fan of sports that can be scored objectively and a big fan of athletes competing against other athletes. I consider myself a patriot with two honorable discharges, membership in the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and Veterans Administration, and having coached and played American Legion baseball. However, I am not a fan of jingoistic and chauvinistic flag waving. That topic will be covered later.
I don’t believe “sports” that are scored subjectively are true sports. I am not knocking them. Gymnastics may be the most difficult sport in the world and divers are just gymnasts that land in the water. Both sports and off -shoots of those sports take true athleticism. But they are not what I consider sports. They are really art. I am a fan of art. It takes athleticism to be a ballerina, but we don’t call ballerinas athletes. If we could objectively measure those sports, I would call them sports.
Realizing that this will upset a large segment of Ramona’s population, I am going out on a limb. I have to be honest. Cheering is not a sport. Competition cheer is gymnastics. It takes athleticism. Cheerleaders are athletes, but cheerleading is not a sport.
Dancing and waving a hula hoop is not a sport. Two people swimming upside down is not a sport. Waving a ribbon and dancing is not a sport. To me, when they play music during any competition and the athlete performs to the music that is a dance and dancing is an art, an art that I have butchered for most of my life.
I am not a big fan of planned or trite celebrating after an athletic event or using an American flag as a towel. You have to realize that when one goes to a pre-determined place to get a flag to use as a prop after an athletic event, it was a staged celebration. Having shirts ready to promote you or your team after a victory cannot be spontaneous. It is, however, capitalism at its best.
Also, I am against athletes competing for other countries because they can’t make the team in the country in which they live. There should be a residency rule. In my opinion having an American run in a Middle Eastern country’s uniform isn’t a breakthrough for women.
Other women who are of the Muslim faith have been competing for several Olympiads. American Muslim athletes have been competing for decades. When third world countries really treat women as human beings, then that will be a breakthrough. But they will have to use their own citizens as pioneers— citizens who will have to return to their countries and face the heat.
The women’s soccer team was my favorite part of the Olympics. They came from behind to get to the finals in the most exciting soccer game that I have ever watched. They beat a team that had beaten them in the World Cup in the finals. I can’t buy into the revenge or redemption gig. Great teams meet and play in international sports, and one team loses every time. Playing them again and beating them is what sports is really about— “the human drama of athletic competition.”
The Brazilian volleyball team’s celebration after beating our American women was, “…the thrill of victory… and the agony of defeat.”
Beach volleyball was also one of my favorites. Beach volleyball originated in Southern California. Jack Menotti and I often argued whether it started in his hometown area of Venice Beach and Santa Monica or my hometown, Manhattan Beach. It must have been in Menotti’s hometown because he never lost an argument. The old Manhattan Beach Open Volleyball Tournament was one of my favorite sports events before there was pro volleyball and beach volleyball in the Olympics. Beach volleyball is a sport.
The best quote from the Olympics came from Michael Phelps. He quoted Dr. Seuss: “Don’t cry because it is over. Smile because it happened.”
I am smiling because it is over and because it happened.