Thursday, August 14, 2008

Olympic Moments

I am not a sport fan, but I am an avid Olympic fan.  Summer games, Winter games - I'm in!  And I watch most all of it.  So it is very different being in Burundi while the Beijing Games are happening.  Now, I will confess, my enthusiasm this time around is muted by the host country. I am not a fan of China as the host for these international games of fair play, for many obvious reasons.  Chief among them, I don't believe they are playing fair - did you see their female gymnasts?  But I digress...

Watching the games here is different than the US-centered coverage we get back home.  Today is a good example of Olympic coverage in Francophone Africa.  The US vs. Greece in basketball or France vs. Croatia in handball?  How about 10 minutes of basketball and 40+ minutes of handball... that was painful.  I would much rather watch our all-stars play an impressive game of basketball.  What is handball anyways - soccer with your hands?  But we have French coverage, so France playing handball wins the day.  (I did not pay attention enough to know if they won the game...)  

This is played out again in a sport I care a bit more about - tennis.  So there is a match pairing James Blake (US) and Roger Federer.  Now I admit Federer has been in a slump in recent competitions.  But I was pretty jazzed (yes, that is the right word for my state of mind) to watch him play.  He is simply one of the most elegant players on the court, and I was eager to see him win - even over my fellow countryman.  (This is the Olympics, I can pull for the international guy, right?)  But we got scant coverage - of Roger Federer!!!  Why? Because a Frenchman was playing... so instead I watched Gael Monfils and Novak Djokovic with attention, but less affection.

I am so glad to be able to watch the games, in any language, for a few hours a day.  It is a luxury I did not expect to have, frankly.  So I am glad to watch, to cheer, to celebrate athletic accomplishments in all manner of sports.  But you need to know that our coverage back home is skewed to our American audience.  It is obvious, but sometimes I think we take it for granted until we are out of our zone and see the games from another vantage point.  I still contend that American basketball is more fun than handball, any day.  And... I wish I could have seen Federer grace the court.  But maybe tomorrow I can watch Michael Phelps claim another gold!


Doggie Nanny said...

I'm glad you are able to watch some of the Olympics! We are certainly enjoying them, as always. I was always a winter Olympic fan and wasn't a Summer fan until 2004. Now I'm hooked! But how could you not enjoy watching Phelps swim? Amazing! And yes, the Chinese gymnast seem rather suspicious. Hopefully the individual trials will fair better.

Julene said...

Kelley--Ha, I know what you mean by a different coverage outside of the USA. The sports in Korea that get the coverage are handball, archery, weightlifting...all three sports I've never watched before. Oh and of course the martial arts too--taekwondo.