Thursday, August 09, 2012

08/09 (Olympics) Quickie

The Olympics are winding down, but not without some drama: Misty and Kerri's third straight Olympic gold in women's beach volleyball, Allyson Felix winning the 200, more US gold in the women's long jump and men's 110 hurdles, USA hoops cruising to the semis (and Nic Batum's never-to-be-forgotten crotch-punch on Spain's JC Navarro). We've still got women's soccer gold today (US vs. Japan) and watching Bolt destroy the 200 and the always-entertaining 4x100 and 4x400 relays.

Ever the instant-historian, I'm fascinated by the "Best Evers" in their respective sports: Misty May and Kerri Walsh, Usain Bolt, Kim Rhode, Michael Phelps (obviously).

I can't help presuming that in LeBron, we're watching the greatest player to ever participate in Olympic basketball, catapulting past Michael Jordan's '84/'92 combo. And the potential that, in Missy Franklin, we've just got our first glimpse of another "Best Ever."

This is, of course, why we watch: To see "best ever" performances -- maybe not of all time, which is a luxury, but there's something appealing about "personal best," to watch someone culminating a lifetime of commitment with a gold (or even a silver or bronze).

There was this moment during Bolt's 200 semi where, immediately afterward, this young South African competitor rushes over to Bolt to give him a hug -- partly it was out of respect, partly out of admiration and partly out of his joy to come in second.

Imagine coming in second to the greatest sprinter in the history of the world -- not a bad place to be.

We also watch for the disappointment and the surprises and the collective "moments" and rooting interest in sports we mostly couldn't care less about the other 3 years and 50 weeks of every four-year stretch. But what a joy to watch greatness -- the achievement and the pursuit.


*Best thing I read today, this week, this month and in the lead-up to the college football season: Wright Thompson on Urban Meyer. Give yourself 15 minutes to read it, then set aside some other time to think about two things: (1) Do you think there's any way that Meyer can change his essential nature -- can any of us? And (2) What are the personal costs you are willing to assume to achieve professional success? What level do you expect/demand from your sports heroes?

How does this second question make you think about Andy Reid and the tragic death of his son Garrett? Without presuming to know how he parented -- Andy was clearly more involved after Garrett got older and got into more trouble -- what about the choices Andy Reid clearly made about how involved he would be with his kids when they were little and most likely to benefit from his influence, versus his obsession with creating a professional career for himself at the highest levels of football? There is always a trade-off, and we don't talk about it enough.

*NFL Camping: I was all set to pick Trent Richardson in my fantasy draft far higher than almost anyone would find reasonable -- back of the first half. Now, news of his knee surgery makes me a wee bit nervous about that kind of investment. Tough break for the Browns, because this has ominous foreshadowing written all over it.

*More NFL: I'm totally rooting for Terrell Owens, well past the twilight of his career, to make it in Seattle.

*Meanwhile, if you missed the first episode of "Hard Knocks" with the Dolphins on Tuesday night, it was outstanding.

Note: Taking the family down to Florida for our annual summer pilgrimage to St. Augustine, but I look forward to having some time to write and reflect while I'm down there. Posts continue here, daily.

-- D.S.

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