A columnist of heart and mind

A columnist of heart and mind
Interviewing the animals at Children's Fairyland in Oakland. L-R: Bobo the sheep, Gideon the miniature donkey, me, Tumbleweed Tommy the miniature donkey, Juan the alpaca, Coco the pony

Monday, August 13, 2012

You Go, Girls!

Well, the Olympics are over, and the big winner is. . . Betty Friedan!
Never before have so many American stars been women, from Kerri Walsh and Misty May to the U.S soccer team to the Fabulous Five. What we're witnessing is the full fruition of Title IX, forty years later.
And we're a better country for it. Instead of utilizing only half our population, now we can draw on the whole talent pool. And athletics are just the tip of the iceberg.
So who was the biggest male star? With respect to Michael Phelps, it's Usain Bolt's world, and the rest of us are just living in it.
I don't mean to denigrate what Phelps accomplished, but his medal count tells only part of the story. Unlike Phelps, Bolt could compete in only three races. But in a sport where the finishers are usually separated by fractions of an inch, he crossed the finish line yards ahead of his challengers.
So who were the biggest losers? It's a tie between NBC and the International Olympic Committee.
The IOC loses for refusing a moment of silence in memory of the Israeli athletes who were murdered at the 1972 Munich Olympics.
At a meeting with the athletes' families, IOC Chairman Jacques Rogge lamely explained, "There are now more than 40 Arab delegations…my hands are tied" - to which one of the widows replied, "Your hands were tied? No. My husband's and his teammates' hands were tied. Also their feet. To the furniture. Then they came home in coffins."
As for NBC, how come it took them eight hours to bring us images 3,000 miles from London when NASA was able to deliver images 250 million miles from Mars in less than twice the time?
NBC was following a model invented in the 1960s, which assumed people are too busy at work to watch events live during the daytime, so give them a package of reruns disguised as live coverage during prime time.
That might have worked back then, but not in this age of the Internet.
I also hated the exclusive concentration on American athletes. One of the chief pleasures of the Olympics is identifying with people all over the world. (Remember how we all fell in love with Olga Korbut in 1972?)
So why did NBC broadcast only the American medal ceremonies? Mo (short for Mohammed) Farah, running for Britain, won both the 5,000 and 10,000 meters. He's become a national hero, which is causing a real cultural change: Brits aren’t used to rooting for people named Mohammed.
So I would have loved to see how the crowd reacted when they played "God Save The Queen" at the medal ceremony. But we never got a chance.
Finally, don't believe all the Olympic hype. For instance, which ancient Greek came up with the torch relay and the Olympic flame? Pericles? Socrates? Alcibiades?
Answer: None of the above. It was Joseph Goebbels, who invented it for the 1936 Nazi Olympics.
And the Marathon: 26 miles, 385 yards. That's the distance from Marathon to Athens, right?
Wrong. It's the distance from Windsor Castle to Wembley Stadium in London. For the 1908 Olympics, King Edward VII wanted his grandchildren to be able to watch the start of the race from their nursery.

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