That it's become more a thing about "nations" than "athletes" can be deplored until the cows come home but there's not a dang thing that can be done about that unless you ban all the anthems and burn all the flags and dress all the competitors in plain white duds, sans frills. Fat chance!
The strident Nationalism is out of control. The Americans are the worst offenders if only because they are the dominant presence both in terms of numbers and noise. Their rhythmic "USA" chants get downright belligerent. Once upon a time we laughed at the Germans for such antic behavior, bordering sometimes on mere idiocy. Enough, already!
Moreover, why is it such a big deal that the US should finish on top? As the richest and most powerful country with the largest budget, finest facilities, and most extensive educational system for the grooming of performers what possible excuse might we have when we don't? It seems more impressive that Britain with about one-sixth the population should win well more than half as many medals.
It would help if the so-called "Medal count" were not so aggressively emphasized. But there's even less chance of that being curbed with the media led by the all-embracing octopus of a TV network that's in charge understanding so well that gold, silver, and bronze are the coin of the realm. Otherwise, NBC did a fine job. The immensity of the task is almost beyond comprehension. Bob Costas reaffirmed that he's the absolute best. Did he have a single slip of the tongue in 17 days, or ever drift into banality? Many others did well but we could have done better with less cheerleading.
The Games remain less than perfect. It remains an embarrassment to have our so-called "Dream-team'"of NBA all-stars annihilate third-world patsies en route to another "Gold." Did they really have to whip poor Nigeria by 63 points? Do they have no shame?
Something was lost when they let the professionals with their enormous wealth, majesty, and ego intrude upon this show. On the other hand, there was no such complaint when Andy Murray gallantly whipped Roger Federer in the tennis finals in one of the more wonderful moments of the entire festival.
But then some would ask, what is tennis or basketball doing in these Games? Why shouldn't the Olympics be restricted to all the sporting disciplines that don't dominate our attentions all the rest of the time which, of course, was once the case. Maybe they should bring back tug-of-war, once a major event. It's a bit of a dilemma. The games have become swollen. They've been trying to get it right more than a century and will keep at it, no doubt.
In the meantime, we can celebrate in memory a long chorus line of splendid youth who made this frolic that Red Smith used to like to call "the global clambake" one of the happiest and most glorious ever. Given the nature of the times, that was quite a gift.
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