Monday, July 14, 2008

Citius, Altius, Phelpsius

With the Opening Ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics less than four weeks away, let’s take a look at what the big stories will be. Let’s see … off the top of my head, there’s Michael Phelps’ pursuit of Mark Spitz’s seven gold medal record, there’s USA Basketball’s quest to regain world supremacy in the hardwood ‘hood, and there’s Tyson Gay’s attempt to recover from injury and set the world record in the 100 meters without the aid of wind, steroids or ruby slippers. What else?

Checking over at, the TV network home of the Games of the XXIX Olympiad, I find a promo for tonight’s schedule, featuring Nashville Star, America’s Got Talent, and Dateline NBC, which informs me that I might be rich if I own some of the $30 billion of unclaimed property held in state treasuries across the nation. Riveting programming no doubt, but no Olympic hype.

How about this link entitled NBC’s All-American Summer? Looks promising, but Apolo Oh No, now I am awash in America’s Got Talent, the freak show of mediocrity which will never be known as “America’s Got Ratings.” Desperate for info, I type “Olympics” into the search bar and come up with 939 results! Excellent! The first three are an NBC Olympics Legacy T-shirt featuring logos from 12 different Olympic Games, a Beijing Olympics 2008 Logo Tumbler (it’s a cup, not a gymnast), and a Beijing Olympics Embroidered Military Cap designed by Roots (just the perfect accessory for that visit to Tiananmen Square I’ve been planning).

I try to refine my search and click on the menu tab indicating six video results, and I get the following: three clips from an episode of The Office, one clip of Nadia Comaneci plugging her charity work on The Celebrity Apprentice, one clip of a woman named Erin Birch who won $167,000 for the Special Olympics on Deal or No Deal more than two years ago, and wait a second, a segment of Last Call with Carson Daly from last August which must reference the fact that the Olympics are only a year away, but who knows because the wireless network in Bethany Beach, Delaware, doesn’t seem to be able to handle the bandwidth I need to see the clip.

Okay, so where’s all the Olympic scoop? Where’s the heartbreaking story of the gymnast who perseveres through pain, puberty and Communist oppression for a chance at fame, fortune and future reality tv stardom? Or the decathlete whose success lands him first on a Wheaties box, then a series of TV cameos, an infomercial, and finally a reality tv show about his spoiled, narcissistic, hateful stepchildren? Or the diver who misses a chance at gold because of America’s boycott of the Moscow Olympics only to win in Los Angeles and Seoul, the latter despite gashing his head open on a platform dive attempt, and then comes out of the closet and has his story told on a made for TV movie starring Mario Lopez, and yet somehow has never been on a reality tv show unless you count Circus of the Stars 11?

Wait a second, there’s a different website called I can find stories, pictures, video, blogs and a live clock counting down to the Opening Ceremonies? And athlete profiles, where two out of every three items focus on an American who has little, if any, chance to win a medal next month, while numerous foreigners who are slam-dunk gold medal favorites get the shaft because they don’t hail from the Home of the Brave? Oh. Never mind.