This editorial will appear in Monday’s print edition.
‘We now return you to your regularly scheduled midsummer madness . . .”
Well, that was fun. As of this writing (Friday), the Brits had put on a jolly good Olympics show, and the American athletes had hauled in roughly the expected number of medals. Now we can get back to the real business that takes place every four years at this time: complaining about too many nasty political ads on TV.
Before the London Summer Olympics fade into memory, some afterthoughts.
• It was the year of the woman, with every country in attendance sending at least one woman to the games for the first time.
Who could not be moved seeing modestly garbed Muslim women competing simply for the love of sport, even though they knew they risked criticism – or worse – from extremists back home. They had no chance of medaling, or even coming close. But they were there, and that made a powerful statement.
Yes, the Saudi women had to walk behind the men as the team marched into Olympic Stadium during the opening ceremony. Baby steps.
And let’s hear it for the American women. For the first time, they outnumbered the U.S. men and won the lion’s share of the team’s medals.
Title IX played a big role by opening up competitive opportunities for women in team sports like soccer, basketball and volleyball. But many of the athletes – including the “fierce five” gymnasts and young swimmers like 17-year-old Missy Franklin – train in private clubs, their parents spending thousands of dollars for coaching. Title IX doesn’t explain their success.
• Why can the rest of the world watch the events live, but Americans have to pay extra for it? However much we carp about it, though, NBC racked up great ratings for its tape-delay prime-time coverage. Turns out a lot of us prefer watching the Olympics when we already know the outcome. Less stressful that way.
• America trains the world, it seems. Often the announcer noted that the winning athlete from another nation actually trained in the United States, usually at a publicly funded state university.
In Beijing in 2008, the Pacific-12 Conference alone trained athletes for 48 countries. And U.S.-trained foreign athletes won an estimated 6 percent of the medals that year. One example this year is Grenada’s Kirani James, who won the men’s 400-meter race. James trained at the University of Alabama, where he was a two-time NCAA champion.
There’s been some talk about capping the number of athletic scholarships given to foreign students. But with those students helping U.S. colleges win championships, it’s unlikely the NCAA will move in that direction any time soon.
Still, perhaps each nation’s medal count could include an asterisk noting how many medal winners from other countries it trained.
• Among the South Sound athletes who competed, the highlight was Bremerton swimmer Nathan Adrian, who won two gold medals and a silver. The KING 5 promo about his parents, including his “Chinese tiger mom” who threatened him with chores if he quit the swim team, was priceless.
Congratulations to Adrian and to the other local athletes, whether they won a medal or not.
And just think, only two years to the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. Time to start brushing up on the rules of curling.