Thursday, August 21, 2008

I see London, I see France...

These days I have pride in my country more days than not. So I cheer for our athletes “to bring home the gold.” And when the network needs to fill time, I sit attentively and listen to the special interest piece designed to get me all weepy and ready to pump my fists at the heavens for gold in the next event. I watch the athlete’s stories and I study their faces. I cry out when they fly off a beam in error, and I cry out when they fly off a beam by design. I sit in amazement at how some athletes make themselves so great and at how others even make it onto the flight to Beijing. I try to man-up and bite my lip when I hear my country’s anthem being played for a superior member of the human race and I wonder what it must be like to be a part of that time-honored podium ceremony…

I played rugby for most of my athletic career so the elegance of the Olympic medal ceremony is, well, excuse the pun but, Greek to me. If I could imagine rugby’s equivalent for you for a moment, it would most likely go something like this: a bar top instead of a podium; a bar crowd singing a very rude limerick in lieu of a formal anthem; a golden beer for a medal; and one’s own jock strap in place of the kotinos olive wreath. The only real similarity I can possibly muster (and I know it’s a stretch) between the ancient version and my rugby experience is all the nudity...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

eHarmin’ me dot com…

There were five bar stools between my future ex-girlfriend and me. Absently stirring her drink, she stared at the TV behind the bar and yawned. The condensation ran down my pint and soaked into the pressed-pulp bar coaster. The coaster had had more to drink than me and it was then in my boredom I decided to test a theory. I had acquired a two-page questionnaire earlier in the day. I slid off my stool and walked toward her counting down the bar stools as I went. She was an early 20’s student athlete type who looked like she might enjoy dinner and a movie with the right person…

No one does that anymore – dinner and a movie. I think more people would if everyone didn’t expect that everyone else liked the hip, trendy bar scene so much. It’s like there’s a silent understanding that my date won’t like a movie and dinner if I could have taken her to a club or a bar. I say bullshit. Every woman I’ve talked to says some of her best memories are of the simple dates. I’m not talking about married and might-as-well-be-married couples, either. Married date-night is different; where the cautious analysis of your date and scud-shot conversations are replaced with familiarity and comfortable colloquy; or in some marriages, silence...

Monday, August 18, 2008

Phelps over Spitz is hard to Swallow…

OK. I gotta know… does anybody else wonder about Phelps' achievements? So no one misunderstands my angle, indulge me. Step inside my head for a spell. I’ll spill my thoughts out for you in detail to nosh on, then you decide.

Modern sports have become mired in controversy over drug use and doping. The fundamental rationale for the World Anti-Doping Code (which is wholly adopted in toto by the IOC in the Olympic Charter) is “to preserve what is intrinsically valuable to sport.” The code states intrinsic value is characterized by ethics, fair play and honesty; excellence in performance; and health. It’s a few of these that got me thinking… I’ll start with a ridiculously simplistic scenario then move into a more complex one.

Let’s assume you have two sprinters representing different countries. Both are evenly matched in abilities and health. During training, they both find they are lagging behind the field of sprinters as a result of some deficiency. The first sprinter chooses to take a drug to erase the deficit. The second sprinter chooses not to. The race is run and the first sprinter – the doper – wins...

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Waxing-off vs. The Real Thing...

Recently, I've realized that an experience one afternoon in college was to become one metaphor for how an awful lot of people enter into debates ill-prepared due to their own lack of desire to seek the facts before forming their opinion or broadcasting someone else’s.

In college there was a guy who roomed and played rugby with us who studied Karate – from a book. I’m sure he never earned a belt. What he did earn was a reputation for being the guy that told you to come at him slowly like you had a knife. After two or three restarts he would flip someone to the floor and proudly proclaim his status as a master of something-or-other. One afternoon over a few pints of Guinness we all watched the Master get the Bruce beat out of him by a guy on the tennis team. Apparently his Ninja-like discipline didn’t apply to his lips. Or, perhaps Martina hadn’t come at him as slowly as he’d been practicing. In the end, the pints of Guinness dulled grasshopper’s wounds, we laughed our asses off, and life went on...

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Island of Atlanta...

So there I was sitting in the Atlanta Airport waiting for weather to clear so I could get to Dallas for a three-day business meeting. My plane was delayed for 4 hours and according to Delta it would be 2 more.

I'm a people-watcher so I don't mind delays and layovers. I actually quite enjoy myself as long as I get to watch the human animal in action - especially when it's unaware that it's being observed. Besides the nose-picking, wedgie-fixing, crotch-scratching members of the herd there are those that are truly worthy of being studied...