The Olympics draw two kinds of viewer — those who care deeply about sports, even sports as obscure as handball and water polo just for their own sakes, and those who don’t care for sports at all, and find the baseball-football-basketball trifecta especially tiresome.
Basketball is being played in the London Olympics, of course, but the Olympic Committee should just skip the formalities and hand the gold medal to the United States team. The competition on the basketball court has been about as lopsided as it can be, in favor of the American men’s team, which is probably the reason most of the sports media outlets have treated the basketball games like they’re not even happening.
I will admit, with the appropriate amount of shame, that I have watched a fair amount of this year’s Olympic competition, but I’ve tried to limit myself to sports I already know or have an appreciation of. It would take too much out of me to learn the rules of an unfamiliar sport, and as a big advocate of at least the baseball-football part of the trifecta, there’s a side of me that wants no part of some obscure sporting event that only Eastern Europeans excel at that has, as its only purpose, the aim of not allowing the Americans to run the table.
That parameter pretty much limits my viewing to boxing, which I’m not complaining about, even though it’s unlikely that a fighter will have his nose split open with that silly headgear on.
I don’t understand how Olympic boxing is scored, but that doesn’t matter. In the majority of the fights I’ve seen, the fighter who was clearly better has won, and that’s the only principle that is of any consequence.
The beauty of Olympic-style boxing is that only people who appreciate the technical aspects of pugilism can get anything out of it. The bloodsport angle is taken away, and what’s left is pure skill — the ability to land punches cleanly becomes more valuable than brute force or knockouts.
When the Olympics close, in nine days, there will be a collective sigh of relief among the average sports fans.
The doesn’t-care-about-sports viewer will go back to whatever it is he or she does with their spare time.
The rest of us can get back to what’s important, like endless hours of NFL training camp footage and debates on the relative merits of a $1 billion purchase of the Cleveland Browns.