Pet Cobra

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Tuesday, August 17, 2004

I hate the Information Age, I've decided. It's ruining the Olympics. In my job, I'm on the Internet for at least 5 hours a day. And try as I might, I can't avoid MSN, CNN, Yahoo, and Google. The good folks at these sites have decided to post Olympic updates as they happen, right on the front page, so the surprise is ruined for those of us who don't live in Greece.

These Olympics are shaping up to be one of the most bizarre in memory. Cheating Japanese swimmers (one used a dolphin kick to win a race; I don't know what that means either, but I'm sure before the week's end I will know everything there is to know about the dolphin kick and when it can and cannot be used), and Japanese Olympic judges who change the rules right before the start of events. The continuing idiocy of USA Basketball. The empty stands.

And I've found myself rooting for other countries. During a discussion last night with friends who were over for dinner, I made the point that the end of the Cold War was the worst thing that could happen to the Olympics. Remember when we used to envy/hate the Soviet Bloc for all of the things they did to tip the scales in their favor? Government-built and backed, state-of-the-art training facilities. Athletes who were doped to the gills (in the case of their swimmers, I mean this literally) on steroids. Professionals who were paid - WELL paid, by their country's standards - to practice and compete in their sports year-round. Sad to say, but the U.S. has filled the USSR's Olympic shoes quite nicely. What made the U.S. hockey team's victory in 1980 (arguably the greatest moment in American sports) so sweet was that these weren't uber-players, but a bunch of college kids. What made Edwin Moses so impressive was that he WAS a hurdler, a pure track guy, not a hormone-juiced, wanna-be NFL running back. We used to set an example; that despite being the richest nation on earth, we were above stacking the deck. Not anymore, it seems.

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