I am not what you would call a sports fan. I’ve never watched the Superbowl, couldn’t tell you who won the World Series last year and generally would prefer to poke a stick in my ear rather than listening to any kind of sports discussion. I didn’t grow up in a sports watching family since my dad never watched sports nor did my grandfather (unless you count horse racing but that was more about the monetary rewards rather than any love of sports).
Strangely enough though, I always look forward to the Olympics. I’ve come to think of the Olympics as an event for people who generally don’t like watching sports. Although I think they have gone a little crazy adding sports that I don’t thing are really Olympic in stature (BMX Racing? Ping-Pong? Trampoline?), it’s fun to watch the best of the best in every country come together to compete every four years. And while I generally enjoy the Winter Games more than the Summer Games (maybe because I was born in a blizzard?), the Beijing Games have been riveting.
I will fully admit that this is because I been hit hard with Phelps mania. I don’t ever recall watching the swimming finals in Olympics past but I have been glued to my television all last week. Often before the Olympics, the media will pump up certain athletes as the sure to be stars of the games only to see that them crack under the pressure. And the Beijing Games have certainly served up their share of disappointing athletes. But Phelps has been amazing. I managed to watch all but one race live (I missed the nail biter race that gave him the 7th gold because someone who shall remain unnamed wanted to watch Psych instead. Grr Argh!). Sometimes he won by wide margins, other times by freakishly close ones but watching someone actually achieve 8 gold medals straight in one week makes me believe that Phelps must be part fish.
But besides Phelps, watching athletes like Dara Torres, Jason Lezak, Ryan Lochte, Aaron Peirsol, Shawn Johnson and Nastia Liukin has kept me up til the wee hours most nights (why NBC decided to save most key events until after 11 pm is beyond me). And when Jason Lezak came from behind to crush Alain Bernard in the 4×100 medal relay had me jumping off of my couch like an actual sport fan would. And I’ve been reading the sports pages instead of tossing them aside like normal.
But I know as with every other Olympics, once the closing ceremony is over and some athlete makes their debut on the Wheaties box (Phelps have a deal with Kelloggs so the field is wide open), I will once again eschew anything sports-related for my traditionally geeky pursuits. Which I guess is how it will be until the Vancouver Winter Games roll around in 2010. And then I will become a temporary sports geek once again.