After months and months of stories about bribery and corruption in high levels, a city and a country being brought to near bankruptcy over their stageing, reports of poverty and of ungodly living conditions that include water pollution that might kill you, the risk of disease carrying insects, and athletic quarters where raw sewerage is running down the walls, the 2016 Olympic Games begin tonight in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Hoo-ray!
While I may not be as sour on the Olympics as Ron Cook described himself in his Post-Gazette column this morning (but to be fair, nobody can be as sour about anything as Ron Cook is about almost everything), I must admit that the magic of the Olympics has lessened for me somewhat with each passing four years, and I have come to have no illusions that the "Olympic Ideal" of Baron Pierre de Coubertin no longer exists, if it ever existed at all, in today's athletic world.
Still, I will be watching the Games themselves because they can be entertaining, compelling, and just plain fun to watch. If that makes me a hypocrite, so be it.
These are some of the things to which I will look forward to seeing over the next 17 days:
- Men's Basketball. Will the USA team continue it's dominance since the introduction of professional players in the Games? Remember this: when it gets pointed out that This Country or That Country has two NBA players, or four NBA players so watch out for them, keep in mind that the USA has TWELVE NBA players, an entire team of NBA players.
- Women's Basketball. This field may be more competitive from top to bottom than the men's field, so will the USA be able to bring home the Gold?
- Women's soccer. Can the USA continue what they did in the Women's World Cup last year?
- Swimming. Always fun to watch every four years in the Olympics. Can Michael Phelps win yet another gold medal? And will American Katie Ledecky continue her supreme dominance in this sport?
- Track and Field. Another sport to which I only pay attention every four years. Couldn't name an American T&F athlete. Wait, yes I can...Justin Gatlin and Donovan McNab's daughter. However, somebody will emerge as an American star and capture our imaginations over the next two weeks in this sport.
- Usain Bolt. Can he continue to be the Fastest Man in the World?
- Gymnastics. Will the young women representing the USA actually crack a smile and appear to enjoy themselves during the course of the competition.
Someone whose name we do not know today will become a Story and a Star over the course of these games. Will it be a male or female, from a mainstream or a niche sport, from a poverty stricken third world nation, or a world super-power? That will be the fun of watching the Olympics.
And when the Games are over, we can then begin to start counting all of the medals that will be stripped from the winners because those winners were found to be, you know, cheaters.
Citius, Altius, Fortius.