I don’t know if I could have enjoyed the Olympics more than I did this year. Part of it was the mixture of taped and live events that television was able to bring to the east coast of the US because of the 12-hour time difference between here and Beijing. NBC did a masterful job of blending the competition in with the US’s efforts in nearly every competition.
Some, like swimming, we dominated in so it was easy for the network to focus on both objectives at once. Other sports, like say women’s pole vault has mostly non-US athletes involved (although we won silver in that event) but NBC was still able to bring the event to life with out over dramatizing the whole thing.
There are a lot of things I don’t like that NBC Sports does with their whole television philosophy but they had these Olympics figured out. I guess it’s not their job to point out that the host nation is one under communist rule and the people are oppressed but I think on a regular basis they did go a little overboard politically pointing out how wonderful China was.
I think it’s a fascinating culture with a rich history and according to all reports from friends who were there, the people were very friendly. Perhaps, much like people think of Americans when we travel, I’d like their people, it’s jus the government I disagree with. Nonetheless I got caught up in all kinds of sports from the standard swimming, gymnastics and basketball to table tennis, open water swimming and team handball.
I do like it that they put all kinds of sports on all kinds of networks. My son made a chart for me so that just about any time of day I could tune in to see some kind of competition.
That’s one of the other things I really enjoyed about watching these games. It’s the first time I was able to sit down with my son and see him enjoy all kinds of competition, learning about different sports and awakening his curiosity about not only the sports, but also the culture of the people who excelled at them. Who knew that the national sport of Hungary was water polo?
As Bob Costas said in his final commentary, the Olympics are big for any city that hosts them but this one was huge for the host country as well. China, in many regards, can be described as a third world country with first world weapons. But their expanding economy and now this two-week exposure to the world could bring the people of the country, one fifth of the world’s population, onto center stage. If a communist country can have a job classification of “capitalist,” you’d figure they’d know how to capitalize on this time on the world stage.
I do know that I never have really wanted to visit China, despite my insatiable wanderlust, but after seeing the Olympics, I’d like to go there. It sure will be interesting to see how people view China in the future when it comes to tourism. It hasn’t been a big destination in the past but that sure will change. And now that 1.3 billion people have seen the world through the eyes of the Olympics, will they want to go visit these foreign lands for themselves? How many Chinese have you seen touring around the world? That could be the next thing that happens.
I also think that any rational person, after seeing these games, the expense China incurred, the number of volunteers involved and the organization, must consider China a player on the world stage in just about any situation. In any conflict, either in the boardroom or on a battlefield, they’ll be a formidable foe.
Based on their performance in these Olympics, they’re going to be a force in sports on the international stage for a long time.