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Olympic Moments

The Summer Olympics. I’ve been watching the Summer Olympics since the days of three channels and rabbit-ear antennas with aluminum foil pressed around for better reception. Some casual observations:

  1. Remember when the athletes looked almost inhumanly fit, almost like they were from another planet? They are still fit; however, so is your neighbor down the street who is a Crossfitter-marathon runner.
  2. Remember when getting know more about the athletes was limited to special feature sections on one of three channels with rabbit-ear antennas? Now, I can Google the athlete and record an event or watch livestream anytime I want. Why does it seems so overwhelming now?
  3. Remember when the TV Guide came tucked into its bed of the Sunday paper? Now, there are so many channels and so many guides with live links that I find myself guessing and hoping I don’t miss any of Simone Biles’ routines. Even though I know there is Youtube and it has all been recorded. I want the best opportunity for viewing–I am going for the Gold in television viewing, which makes me an Olympian, right?
  4. Remember “Wild World of Sports”? The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat. I dozed off to these words almost every Sunday afternoon of my childhood. I am not sure “Wild World of Sports” as a title would work in 2021.
  5. My son told me once that there are 2 types of people: the one who wants to win and the one who doesn’t want to lose. Which one am I? This seems like a trick question to me.
  6. Olga, Nadia, Marylou, Carly, Shannon, Nastia, Gabby, Simone…I once watched Olympic gymnastics and decided to try some balance beam moves atop one of our wooden fence lines on the farm. On my dismount, which didn’t go well, I almost bit my tongue in half.
  7. Sugar Ray Leonard. I went through a phase when I wanted to be a boxer. In retrospect, a boxer’s mouthpiece would have been a good idea for my gymnastics phase.
  8. Now there is 3×3 basketball in the Olympics. I grew up playing half-court ball in Oklahoma. I’ve always tried to tell people that 3×3 is an entirely different sport from full-court basketball. I feel vindicated. I was an athlete ahead of her time living in a time-capsule state.
  9. Why is beach volleyball so addicting to watch? I plan my days around Olympic Beach Volleyball, and then the Olympics end and I forget it exists until the next Olympics. I feel like my calves are getting toner just watching the athletes.
  10. If you watch the Olympics and you aren’t familiar with the story of Jim Thorpe, be sure to Google and YouTube after you read this post. I am surprised how many people have never heard of this great athlete. There is a Facebook meme that floats around from time to time showing Thorpe in an old football uniform and wearing shoes that neither fit his feet nor match. What isn’t always told about Thorpe is the tragic irony of his burial and his children’s legal battle to try to bring his body back to Oklahoma for re-burial, which is what Thorpe wanted.
  11. I am not entirely sure our world creates true amateurs anymore. Most small towns, like the one I live in, start recruiting basketball players when the babies are still in the womb, or so we like to say. Even though most of us never rise to Olympic glory, many of us train, skip church, skip family events as though we will. Thrill of victory. Agony of defeat. It seems that now, anyone can run a marathon, pull off the Murph on Memorial Day, eat food that comes in little tubes like astronauts and fork out gzillions for the right equipment. Amateurism in sports is murky as are many other “cut and dried” aspects of competition that once we did not think about or question. In the real world, amateurism has been replaced by professional mediocrity. I formulated this idea while attending a sports fair prior to the Austin Marathon, where we were all lined up to buy expensive special socks, protein bars, some kind of weird tube-food, and elitist Gatorade that was called something else. All of this so my sister and I could run-walk the 5K and other family members could complete the big race with varying levels of fitness and training on display, proving forever than almost anyone can eke out the 9- minute mile if you deprive yourself of dessert, skip alot of church, and become “evangelical” enough about keeping your feet blister-free and in Brooks.
  12. The Olympics teaches us that life is about the journey, not the destination. This is what I tell myself as I channel surf my thousands of options, searching for beach volleyball. My face feels ready for my Wheaties Box, however, I will need to get a new recliner prior to the photo-shoot.

By Prof. Snell

Poetry is my thing!

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