August 12, 2008

Eat, Sleep, Swim (eat pray love?)

Have you been watching the Olympics?

Normally, I take only a cursory interest in any sort of sports, enough to make polite conversation, since I know what a widely shared cultural experience sporting events are. I've not been much of an avid sports fan since The Cleveland Browns left town, even though the team came back. That was the moment in my life when I realized, it's a business; the business of entertainment. Most athletes don't turn on the TV to watch me pair socks or grocery shop, nor do I have an obligation to watch them do their jobs. I don't dislike sports, in fact I consider myself a fan. Just not a fanATIC. I prefer to find other ways to spend my time.

I know, I know, this is The Olympics. The "amateurs". Those who are only playing for love of the sport. Oh, and endorsement contracts. Cynical? Perhaps.

So, anyway, I've been tuning in. And I'm enjoying what I see, especially with the internet so handy. "What IS that black thing on Kerri Walsh's shoulder"? Oh, it's some sort of new agey healing bandage. Cool.

I watched the men's synchronized diving last night. Holy cow! I don't even like to go into the water head first, let alone from a million miles in the air after doing 20 sommersaults, and 17 twists. AND COORDINATED with a partner no less! Cheesiness aside, that was pretty amazing. I also watched the men's gymnastics. Unreal the amount of strength and balance.

No commentary would be complete without a nod to Michael Phelps. The man is a swimming machine. I cannot help but wonder though, after hearing his biography, what sort of life does an Olympic athlete have? Are they so single minded in their chosen sport, that they have no outside interests? Mr. Phelps, who is likely to eclipse Mark Spitz as the greatest swimmer evah, does nothing but Eat, Sleep, and Swim. Pages of his biography include "what he eats". I found myself feeling sorry for him (as well as some of the other amazing athletes I watched, assuming their lives/habits are similar). He talked about how loud his dog snores and how he likes to watch TV when he's not swimming 6 hours/day.

At what price does his success come? Is there ever an off season? What will he do if he ever cannot swim? What happens to guy #2? What happens if Michael Phelps gets a silver or bronze and not a gold? Is that failure? I wish him well in his quest and in the aftermath. I suspect it won't be long before the endorsements roll in.


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