With all that is going on here in the states and with the Swift Boats and not-so swift ads, why go across the ocean to find the bull of the week? Because this year’s Olympic Games from Athens had a fair share of bull to address. I’ll deal with 3 issues.
Let’s start with the excitement and excrement from the gymnastics events. Paul Hamm is the excitement. The action of the FIG (International Gymnastics Federations) is the excrement. By now you have probably heard that Hamm won the gold medal in the all-around competition. The problem seems to be that the fudge factor, commonly known as the degree of difficulty, was not accurately figured in when Hamm came back from almost falling in the lap of the judges literally to wowing the crowd, the commentators and yes, the judges in the final event. I watched that event and wowing is the best word. Hamm’s final performance was as flawless as anyone in these games. The reward was that he was awarded the gold by the smallest margin in Olympic history. Then a couple days later, past the statute of limitations, the South Koreans noticed a mistake on the computation of scores that would have given their athlete Yang Tae-young, a gold instead of the bronze. Tae-young deserved the gold, based on performance, degree of difficulty and judges scores. But the Olympic committee gave the gold to Hamm, not realizing the degree of difficulty had been left out of Tae-young’s score.
So what is an International Gymnastics Federation to do? Do they suck it up and admit their mistake and switch medals or award two gold medals? No, they said that since the South Korean protest didn’t happen the very same night, the results would stand. Just about the time you would say, “well if you are going to be fair to everyone, you have to abide by the rules of protest”, they (FIG) started throwing bull. The FIG had the Rocky Mountain pre-cooked oysters (look it up if you don’t get it) to go to Hamm and asked him to give up the gold voluntarily. Not just ask, but pressure him. Hamm was declared the gold medalist the night of the competition and the night of the decision of the committee. But the committee wanted to try to talk Hamm into giving the medal back. I don’t know what Hamm will eventually do but personally he is a gold medal person in my mind. Paul Hamm, two hoofs up. FIG – thanks for being a perfect example of not taking responsibility for your mistakes and bull from the Olympics.
The second Olympic related bull came from, you guessed it, men’s basketball. I have rarely seen so many people that were “legends in their own minds” in one place unless you take in consideration WWE’s CEO Vince McMahon private office when he is alone. The attitude seemed to be: We are professionals from the USA so we will win. Personally, I’m glad the basketball team got whooped the first night. I was really hoping that they would be out of the medals but it looks like they will get one. Sports Illustrated did an online survey and here is what 32% of respondents said: “this team should be considered a bust even if it wins gold”. Whew. At least one third of the sports fans responding have seen through the “I’m a pro” façade. Guys, you may be professionals in that you get paid to play basketball. But I could show you hundreds of thousands of boys and girls that play your sport with more class than you without the money. Their attitude makes them the real pros in my eyes. The US team may not be able to pass the ball but they can throw the bull.
The final Olympic related issue actually does involve my normal favorite subject of this column. Politics. The Bush/Cheney campaign used the Olympics to enhance their campaign. First, there was word that the President, never known for being a soccer fan, was talking about going to Athens to see the team from Iraq compete. Even the Iraqi coach said “no, thanks”. There is one team that has seen too much politics over the years. They sure didn’t need it from the conquering hero. Then the B/C campaign decided to use references of the Olympics in campaign ads. Between references to the participation of Iraq and Afghanistan to clips from the Olympic Games in Munich, Germany and the tragedy there, the line was not only overstepped but is not even in the rear-view mirror. Whether the IOC owns the rights to the name or not, it is just another example of a campaign that can’t come up with an original positive ad.
The non-bull from the Olympics came from women’s sand volleyball and the softball teams. Two medals in sand volleyball and only one run scored against the women’s softball team the entire Olympics. Two hoofs up ladies. You make us proud.
Now, a video follow-up from a previous column. The guys at www.jibjab.com are in trouble with the writers of the original song, "This Land Is Your Land" for not asking permission before doing the parody of the song. Oops! One recent video that won’t have to ask permission of anyone is now at www.sojo.net/video. The site is Sojourners, an Evangelical organization focused on issues of social justice. Their new campaign is “God is not a Republican … or a Democrat”. Check this video out as your prepare for the GOP lovefest in NYC. I guess, if the B/C can make it there, they can make it anywhere.
Oh well, see you from New York next week.