The longer you watch the Olympics, the more the suckitude intrudes. Why is golf an Olympic sport? Why are zillionaire American pros permitted to play Olympic tennis? Why can’t any of these color commentators just shut the hell up once in a while?
And of course, why do idiots keep weighing in on Simone Biles’ “mental health?” I put it in quotes because the way some of them talk, you’d think she’s hallucinating demons perched on the uneven bars, when it seems pretty clear what is happening: She’s had enough, and she’s done, and she’s not going to risk breaking her neck for the entertainment of a bunch of fat-asses in Barcaloungers, and that’s that.
With all we’ve learned about women’s gymnastics in recent years, isn’t it time for us to shut up and listen to them? I think so. I also think it’s grimly hilarious that the people who are saying but-but-but-Kerri-Strug and but-but-but-the-Magnificent-Seven can now hear directly from Strug and, oh, Dominique Moceanu, and they and others who have been in Biles’ shoes are all saying, girl, you did the right thing. Also, Rachael Denhollander:
Hey America- ya'll praising the "results " of the old system- did you know that our elite athletes were systematically starved so severely that at competitions many of them would walk the halls of the hotels eating scraps of food from food service trays put out as garbage?
— Rachael Denhollander (@R_Denhollander) July 28, 2021
And many, many more.
Even Mitch Albom got up off his cash-stuffed bed and phoned in some piece of shit I won’t link to because it’s paywalled and also, it sucks. But here’s one passage:
“At the end of the day, we’re human, too,” she told the media. ”We have to protect our mind and our body, rather than go out there and do what the world wants us to do.”
It’s hard to argue with that sentence. It’s just weird to hear it at the Olympics — in a sport that is defined by Olympic performances. It’d be one thing if Tom Brady stepped away from Game 15 of the regular season, saying he was burned out or needed a break. It’d be another thing if he did it after the first snap of the Super Bowl.
As many have pointed out: When Tom Brady has a bad day at work, he throws interceptions. When Simone Biles does, she can end up in a wheelchair.
Of course, only idiots still read Albom. Meanwhile, in the Washington Post, Sally Jenkins wrote one outstanding column about her and USA Gymnastics, may that outfit rot in hell, today. She had another really good one on the utter idiocy of the debates over what female athletes should wear in their performances two days ago.
But both of those are paywalled, and this one isn’t, by my old colleague Dave Jones, about the malign influence of one ambitious NBC executive on the Olympics and, by extension, every American who watched or competed:
The outgoing network showcased the athletes of the world and told us their stories. It could be Ethiopian marathoner Abebe Bikila or Kenyan 1,500- and 5,000-meter specialist Kip Keino or Russian gymnast Olga Korbut or Russian weightlifter Vasily Alekseyev or Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci – as well as the great American champions such as swimmer Mark Spitz, skaters Peggy Fleming and Dorothy Hamill, decathlete Bruce Jenner and gymnast Mary Lou Retton and diver Greg Louganis. Whatever and whoever the great stories were, ABC found them, regardless of nationality. Which is, after all the ideal of the Olympics.
Under Ebersol’s command at NBC, all that changed. Obsession with Americans and only Americans, to the point of almost jingoism, was the theme. Nobody else was worth personalizing. Foreigners were essentially made adversaries. The nightly medal count became paramount.
Ebersol was the man who gave us schlockmeister John Tesh as a preeminent event host, complete with his… what would you call them – illustrated lyrical narratives? – before the ’92 Barcelona Games women’s gymnastics sessions. If a Celine Dion ballad of the era could have been whipped for 90 seconds in a Cuisinart with a tablespoon of orchid nectar, it would have emerged as a John Tesh NBC Olympics essay.
And it’s a fun read, too.
Finally, Danny Raskin died this week. He was 102. You probably don’t know who that is. A columnist for the Jewish News here in Detroit for no fewer than 80 years, he wrote a restaurant/around town column called “Best of Everything.” This was the best obit, and the kicker is hilarious:
Scott Raskin said his father was wearing his customary suit and tie when they went to lunch at the Stage Deli in West Bloomfield shortly before the onset of COVID-19.
Mr. Raskin, then 101, spoke briefly to another diner there, a bent and aged-looking woman Scott Raskin guessed to be around 80.
Then “he turned to me,” he said, “and told me, ‘I dated her mother. She was a looker.'”
And with that? Another storm is coming, high winds, so better get this posted in case the power goes out.
Sherri said on July 30, 2021 at 12:41 am
I remember being sick that Kerri Strug was sent out there to do that vault despite being clearly injured. I thought then it wasn’t brave or heroic, it was abusive. But I had also read Joan Ryan’s book Little Girls in Pretty Boxes, which told us way back in 1995 that the Karolyis were abusive coaches. In other words, before Simone Biles was born, the abusiveness of the Karolyis was public, yet their ranch continued to be the training center for USAG until Larry Nasser was sentenced.
Dexter Friend said on July 30, 2021 at 3:18 am
I had the Tigers game on the radio and the announcers said they could see it pouring hard rain 200 yards north of Comerica Field , yet not a drop on the field.
2 weird happenstances here, as I drove to the country farm stand for a load of sweet corn and peppers. The farmer approached the self-serv-stand and began talking to me, and I felt really creeped out. He believed every stupid right wing thing, Trump won, BLM was paid for by socialists, Confederate statues should stand, but when he said Covid 19 was just a hoax, and those that died just had the flu, I wanted to haul off and…but I just drove away. I have been buying produce there since 1993. I love their corn. I did not know the owner of that farm was a fascist asshole.
Three miles towards home, a Chevy Equinox passed me on a blind yellow line and forced an oncoming car into the ditch…I slammed the brakes to avoid a deadly wreck…be careful out there.
ROGirl said on July 30, 2021 at 4:57 am
I used to watch the CBC coverage of the Olympics because the American network broadcasts are so awful, but I don’t even do that any more.
David C said on July 30, 2021 at 6:09 am
The last time I watched the Olympics was probably nine years ago when we still had cable. I must not have been watching the main NBC feed because they were showing badminton. That was truly a time for the commentator to STFU. It was pathetic. It pretty much went “he hit it, and he hit it, and she hit it, and it’s a shuttlecock not a birdie, and he hit it…”. I’ll still tune into the winter Olympics from time to time but I’m done with the summer.
alex said on July 30, 2021 at 6:51 am
Simone Biles may have lost her mojo but Nancy’s found hers. Today’s installment is a better waker-upper than my coffee, which nearly went out of my nose at every turn.
The Olympics have indeed changed, and yet it didn’t really sink in for me until it was pointed out here. ABC was definitely doing a better job of introducing foreign athletes and their compelling personal stories. And NBC was better at making comedy gold out of it:
Last night while dining out we watched men’s water polo on the big screen over the bar. The Italians were gorgeous. I swore I’d never become a lecherous dirty old man like so many I’ve known but I may have to stop watching the Olympics in order to fulfill that promise.
Jim G said on July 30, 2021 at 11:55 am
Joe Poskanski—who if he has a flaw, it’s that he tends to be nice to a fault—doesn’t mince words this time:
“This backlash seemed, for the most part, to be generated by a certain type of person — generally male, generally older, generally outspokenly conservative, generally, from what I can tell, from people who didn’t give one damn about gymnastics or Biles until they saw an opportunity they could seize upon to vomit their hot takes.”
I’ve read one or two pieces from people seeing the Kerri Strug vault in a new light, as abuse instead of inspiration, and I wonder what they were watching 25 years ago, because I sure as hell recognized abuse when I saw it.
Julie Robinson said on July 30, 2021 at 12:20 pm
What Nancy says about NBC’s jingoism is part of the reason I haven’t made an effort to watch, along with their mentality that gold is the only worthwhile medal. Work for four years, training your butt off, qualify for the Olympics, and lose gold by .00125/second? All NBC sees is Loser.
I read both the Sally Jenkins stories when they were published, and at the time I thought it was abusive that Kerri Strug was made to do that last vault under so much pain. I didn’t know about Moceanu though. Really, how did none of us look at all those huge gymnastics coaches and not see the potential for abuse simply in the size difference?
Also, I keep reading stories about the creepy old men setting uniform requirements, especially for beach volleyball and handball, but also for gymnastics. Anytime you’ve got someone measuring how many inches of buttocks are showing is a huge red flag. It cheapens the sport to make it so much about sex appeal. Men shouldn’t have control over women’s bodies, the end.
Jeff Borden said on July 30, 2021 at 12:48 pm
I enjoy debating with friends which sporting organization is most corrupt: FIFA, IOC, NCAA,Formula One, etc. All of them are greasy, greedy and profiting from the athletes they exploit.
Of course Simone Biles was the target. An assertive black woman who is the greatest of all time in her sport must be smeared by men with small minds and smaller dicks. Ask one of the Williams sisters. They’ll agree.
Deborah said on July 30, 2021 at 5:27 pm
Today is a busy day getting last minute stuff done before I leave for Chicago tomorrow. I can’t remember if I mentioned that I do have a private ride to ABQ now so I don’t have to use the crowded shuttle or the train to get there. So that’s a bit of a relief. I will have my normal mask with a filter inserted while I’m at the airport and on the plane of course. I will have hand sanitizer too. I’m taking LB and her friend who is driving me to ABQ, to breakfast at the lavender farm, Los Poblanos, in Albuquerque before the airport run, they have such good food and seeing the lavender fields is always a treat. I’m going to vacuum and mop the kitchen floor one more time (so much for white tile floors) before I go. I’m a stickler for clean floors). I am looking forward to being in Chicago again, and the weather forecast for the next few days there doesn’t seem horrible.
Deborah said on July 30, 2021 at 5:45 pm
Tomorrow morning the shit hits the fan again for our condo window replacement project in Santa Fe. Thankfully I won’t be attending because of my travel day. We have put together the document for our historic district to review and we owners will write our checks to the condo association for the lump sum down payment to get the ball rolling by the company we selected. We’re going to have to put a lien on the A-hole owner’s property unless she changes her tune, which is highly doubtful. And she’s 5 months behind again on her assessments. She is going to be meeting with more pushback than she expected. She’s been getting away with a lot for many years, no more.
alex said on July 30, 2021 at 6:52 pm
This week saw the retirement of my favorite boss, the one who has always utilized my talents to their fullest and given me many opportunities to shine. Wish I could retire right now too because it’s just not going to be the same.
Deborah said on July 30, 2021 at 11:12 pm
I’m starting to really freak out about my flight tomorrow. I can’t remember ever being this anxious about flying. There’s nothing I can do about it except take deep breaths and maybe a borrowed gummy. I wish I felt better about this experience.
beb said on July 31, 2021 at 2:10 am
I was going to say the Sally Jenkins columns were not paywalled then I remembered that my wife bought a subscription which she apparently shared with me. So I was able to cread those two columns and thought they were really good. Tennis is another area where have been strictly controlled. I remember the controversy about Serena Williams’ catsuit. And I remember that at one time women were required to wear a skirt. They couldn’t wear shorts like a man. Just a bunch of dirty old men looking for pantyshots.
Julie@7 “Anytime you’ve got someone measuring how many inches of buttocks are showing is a huge red flag.” Aint that the truth for every girl sent home from school for “inappropriate” clothing.
It’s cooling down so much in front of the storm I might have to wear long sleeved pajamas tonight.
Dexter Friend said on July 31, 2021 at 2:55 am
My boarder, the grandson who was homeless, was being yelled at by his boss to get inside the warehouse , and he left his van lights on and drained the juice out, dead. His battery was so old it would not take a charge so I drove him to the lot and then to a parts store for wrenches… and by gawd, he installed the new battery himself and it worked. I could not believe how cheap a new battery was…just $80 + tax. A few years ago they were much more, like $140.
Sherri said on July 31, 2021 at 3:45 am
Pro tip: no matter what side they’re arguing, if someone is arguing something is “scientific fact”, they probably don’t understand how science works. Scientific studies test an hypothesis to see if that hypothesis is supported by the evidence collected in the field. Thus, the most you can say is that the hypothesis is consistent with the evidence, not that it is fact. As more studies reproduce the results of the original, the evidence to support the hypothesis becomes stronger.
But too often, I see people pick up a study that confirms their priors, pay no attention to the methodology and the assumptions and just look at the result and say, see, scientific fact! It is but a piece of evidence, the strength and applicability of which is still to be determined.
David C said on July 31, 2021 at 5:48 am
It sounds like the window installers are going to need a police escort when they install the windows in the A-hole owner’s condo. I’m so glad I sold our house in the site condo development. Never again.
robert said on July 31, 2021 at 8:43 am
Nice column (+ interesting comments). I think gymnasts are some of the most amazing and bravest athletes in the world, but I hold my breath every time they get on the balance beam – so many things can go wrong so badly. Just this morning, my wife and I were complaining about “medal counts”. TV jingoism and IOC corruption make the Olympics “must avoid TV” for us.
alex said on July 31, 2021 at 10:00 am
No need to belabor what’s obvious but it sure is fun:
Dexter Friend said on August 1, 2021 at 2:36 am
TGIA. It is August, which folks call the hottest month, but the caveat is that the days are so much shorter the temps drop more sharply that the usual sustained temps in late June and all of July. I am a Virgo and I love the fall of the year much more than the heat and misery of summer. Geographically, my daughter in Las Vegas, Nevada is likely to move to the Columbus, Ohio area since her 2 daughters already did that, her son moved to Houston to be a paramedic, and her husband and she now have little to do with her husband’s mother, who re-married to a young man with lots of energy and exclude the rest of the family. But my middle daughter is committed to Florida and I have an invitation to come on down any time I want to check out Port St. Lucie. I might bulldoze this ancient house and just move in with them…THAT would go over well, right? Yeah. Sure it would. 😉
Deborah said on August 1, 2021 at 8:34 am
I’m back in Chicago, where it’s humid but not hot, at least for now.
My flight was uneventful except for all the dick noses in the airport and on the plane. Is that the way the mask averse get away with it when masks are required?
I thought the work would have started on our place here, but it has not. My biggest peeve is the closet door, it’s leaning up against the wall for months now.
Deborah said on August 1, 2021 at 5:34 pm
I’m trying to get my walking mojo back while I’m in Chicago these next few weeks. I didn’t quite make it to 10,000 steps today, only walked 8,500 or 3.5 miles. It was quite a nice day, not hot and cooler by the lake. It won’t be too bad for a few days ahead, so hoping to work back up to the full 10,000 soon.
Lots of salads planned for our time here.
We are lawyer shopping now for our window replacement fight back in NM. I’m kind of enjoying this, so far.
Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on August 1, 2021 at 7:50 pm
Watching some of the afternoon Olympics coverage, and I had to appreciate the featurette they did on Billy Mills with the usual Pine Ridge footage, but a fairly complete telling of his remarkable race in Tokyo 1964, plus interview-ish quotes from him and his wife and some other Lakota about what that medal meant.
What really grabbed me was a quick end-of-the-hour piece they ran after that, noting that (of course) Tokyo 1964 was the first NBC Olympics, and it was fully televised, and they ran a set of parallel screens to show the quality of the cameras and coverage in a variety of gymnastic events, the host and sidekick talking about contrast and color and lighting, et cetera.
I was jolted by the extreme difference in the 1964 vs. 2021 floor exercise and vaults and pommel and bars routines, quickly clipped, and thought it would be interesting to see a longer piece done by gymnasts to talk about where their sport has gone, and what the future holds. Golf you see different clothes and ethnicities, but essentially the clubs and shots are the same; shotput or hammer throw, even more so. But WOW, gymnastics . . . one flip vs. double flip and triple twist, or a loop and back and drop and bow, vs. flying above the bars in a rotation, under-over-under flip twice and rotate back, hammer into the landing and bow, or a few almost (I couldn’t do what they did then) desultory hand-stand legs-around in ’64 vs. a blur of rotation with hands on pommel handles. Honestly, you can’t help but think we’re in a gymnastics place like the 3:43 mile: there are human limits here, somewhere. Albeit short of more doping or implants, I suppose.
If you don’t know Billy’s story, this is a good summary: https://www.wbur.org/onlyagame/2020/05/22/billy-mills-olympic-gold-runner
FDChief said on August 1, 2021 at 8:59 pm
I’ve been watching the women’s soccer, and when they have an event I’m intrigued by, like fencing. Otherwise the relentless NBC “USA! USA!” is truly offputting. Watched the team foil yesterday and the entire focus was on a single US fencer on the team that finished third. The Russians (who won?) The French (second?) Might as well not even have been there.
Here’s an oddity about the fencing, though. I fenced foil in college in the 1980s. One of the principal elements of scoring was “right-of-way” (sometimes called “priority”). You established ROW/priority by extending your sword arm – there used to be a lot of havering about whether you could gain ROW by the ACT of extending the arm, or whether you had to have it straight before you gained ROW. But that was key; if you had ROW and your opponent didn’t and you both touched simultaneously or too closely too call – remember, this was largely before electronic scoring – if you had ROW your touch counted.
As far as I could tell NOBODY bothered to extend their arm noticibly in the bouts I saw. Lots of big tip-circles (another no-no), lots of sort of jabbing and poking with bent elbows…but none of the to-me familiar straight-armed lunges or fleches (that is, a running attack).
I wonder…is that an artifact of the electronic scoring systems? Given how much subjectiveness that’s taken out of the game, I wonder if there has been two or three generations of fencers growing up without the obsession with arm-extension/ROW that it’s pretty much died out? Or is it simply that the electronics allow the movement to be a lot more subtle than it used to?
Worthless to expect the commentators to help with that; all they wanted to do was hype the American guy (who did win his bouts, so good for you, Yank…)
ROGirl said on August 2, 2021 at 4:28 am
In the Today in nn.c history comment thread from 8/2/2016, Alex attached the link to this article.
Did anyone ever doubt that he wouldn’t have done it if that election had turned out differently?
alex said on August 2, 2021 at 7:30 am
After four years of gaslighting, and continued Republican complicity in the effort, Trump’s assertions in 2016 no longer seem shocking or surprising at all. In hindsight, you can hardly blame Dems for being complacent in the belief that there was no way this flaming shitbag could ever win an election.
Suzanne said on August 2, 2021 at 8:30 am
David Brooks. I am struggling to understand what he’s saying.
Mark P said on August 2, 2021 at 8:51 am
David Brooks is a shallow person’s idea of a deep thinker. He’s intellectually lazy. He has hazy ideas and pretends they are insights. He finds a shiny stone and thinks it’s gold. He should climb up onto the “control deck” of his intellectual “yacht” and putter off to the imaginary world he lives in.
I have a finite lifetime. I’m not going to waste three minutes of it reading his drivel.
Jeff Borden said on August 2, 2021 at 8:58 am
We reluctantly canceled our planned trip to South Florida this coming weekend to see our nephew get married. It’s just too insane. Every one of our Sunday newspaper reads had stories on the rising toll in the Sunshine State and we’ve been monitoring the daily papers in Miami, St. Petersburg and Orlando, where the news has not been good. Call us cowards or wimps or whatever, but we have no interest parachuting into a Hot Zone.
While Florida leads the nation in new coronavirus cases, Gov. DeathSantis was at some conservative gathering demanding Republicans say no to vaccine mandates, no to masks in schools, no to proof of vaccination cards. No, no, no. Apparently, it’s fine for governments led by Republicans to make it impossible for a woman to control her own womb or for transgenders to find a bathroom, but boy howdy, when it comes to a deadly, fast-mutating virus, it’s hands off.
It’s hardly an exaggeration to describe the current GOP as a death cult.
Deborah said on August 2, 2021 at 9:05 am
Jeff B, you’re doing the right, smart thing.
JodiP said on August 2, 2021 at 2:29 pm
Jeff B, absolutely the right thing to so. It is so terrible that the governor’s actions will lead to more severe illness and death,but that’s been the Republican’s dance for nearly 18 months…..
And a little levity, tying into the Olympics: https://unofficialnetworks.com/2021/07/29/second-place-winter-olympics/
Deborah said on August 2, 2021 at 7:50 pm
My 102 year old mother-in-law is fading. I was just bragging a few days ago that even though she has not been who she was before mentally, she still had a strong will to live. That has changed dramatically in the last week or so. She is not at all well and some estimates are that she may have weeks left, not months. It’s sad but she was ready to go a while ago and my husband and his brother and sisters hate to see what she’s having to endure now. We all do. May it be swift and peaceful.
Deborah said on August 2, 2021 at 8:20 pm
Is Cormac McCarthy’s twitter site fake? I hope not https://twitter.com/CormacMcCrthy
Deborah said on August 2, 2021 at 8:30 pm
My friends who moved to Paris are back in Chicago for a vacation and we’re getting together on Wednesday afternoon. I’m excited to see them and the kids, I haven’t seen the kids since they moved to France, which I don’t even remember now when that was.
It makes me think about how cool it will be to go to France again. Nancy, I’m looking forward to hearing about your upcoming trip.
Lollapolooza was happening in Chicago, I rode past it in the cab on the way home from the airport Saturday night. It seemed like a super spreader event to me, it’s over now, haven’t heard what the statistics are yet.