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Reflections on the Olympics

I really enjoyed the recent Olympics. I have little recollection of the Athens and Sydney games but did manage to catch quite a bit more this time.

A few thoughts, in no particular order:

  • NBC (and the media in general) have a definite propensity for only covering sports that are likely to be dominated by the US, quite a different approach from what I recall growing up. But I do rather enjoy the rivalry of the superpowers.
  • Great Britain almost finished with the bronze on the medal table. A clear win if measured by population or land area.
  • Watching on-demand video was pretty cool and made it fun to see the really close races again.
  • The Opening ceremony was incredible. Very clever usage of technology as a complement to the performance skill of many, many participants, rather than a replacement for them. I'm sure things went wrong during it the level of preparation made it impossible to notice.
  • Usain Bolt combined two of my favorite things in one man: raw talent and a fine example of  nominative determinism.
  • I was once again reminded of the attitude at that level. As Al Oerter once said "These are the Olympics. You die before you quit."

On the down side, the 'it's cool to bash China' sentiment in the media was very disappointing. Perpetuating already off-the-mark misconceptions without any balanced discussion of the issues seemed borderline irresponsible. Such behavior has the effect of setting public opinion irrationally against something and leads to attitudes and attacks grounded in ignorance. Although in a different context, I must say that story was strikingly familiar.

Anyone who doesn't believe there's a huge transformation happening in China is going to be mightily surprised. The level of optimism, enthusiasm and sense of endless possibility is unmatched elsewhere at this point.

Oh, and we were doing our bit too: