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I tried. I tried to take satisfaction from the final of the men's metric mile (4 X 400) relay a few nights ago. Likable underdog the Bahamas pulled it out for the country's first-ever Olympic gold medal and it was the sort of story that I would imagine a mature viewer of the Olympics could enjoy without reservation.
But at this point, ensconced as I am in middle age, I still can't do it. I still care almost 100 percent about whether the team from the USA has done all it can. And in this event, the good old red, white and blue came up historically short.
It all goes to the overall experience of the London Olympics, which came to an end on Sunday with a big event featuring the Spice Girls (!) among others.
Just about everyone was so happy that the Games went as smoothly as they did with no major security breaches that they gushed about the closing ceremonies despite the prominent role for the, well, let's just say slightly over-hyped pop music phenomenon who had mercifully broken up for years before re-uniting recently.
And that is definitely enough about music.
We return now as quickly as possible to the assessment of a fan's perception of these Games. A part of me has always believed that at some point I would gain a broader perspective regarding sports. I would finally find a way to not care quite as much if a bunch of overpaid professional athletes (and everyone at these games was professional except for Missy Franklin, the awesome 17-year-old four-gold-medalist swimmer who has spurned hundreds of thousands of dollars in sponsorships in order to stay eligible for future scholastic and collegiate competition) came up short.
But it isn't happening. I know that a decent amount of the time, I'm rooting for clothes, as Jerry Seinfeld so memorably put it.
Still, I care intensely about games in which Chicago teams are competing and barely at all about ones in which they aren't. Part of this is that we are spoiled around here; we always have a team to root for no matter the season.
And so when I watch the Olympics, I feel the same way about events in which the U.S. has a chance to win. Other stuff? Not so much.
As for that track event, the heavily favored American team took a three- or four-meter lead into the anchor lap but Angelo Taylor, who was only in the race because numerous top U.S. quarter-milers had suffered recent injuries, couldn't hold on down the stretch. Ramon Miller passed him and held on for a glorious victory for the Bahamas.
At that point I wasn't thinking about that at all. I was thinking about the fact that the last time the U.S. hadn't won the metric mile relay was way back in 1980. And they only lost that year because they didn't contest it at the boycotted Moscow Olympics. Before that, the U.S. had won every mile relay ever contested at the Summer Games. Argh.
So congrats to the Bahamas.
And to the U.S. men's track and field team, which didn't have the greatest Olympics ever, let's try to develop a little more quarter-miler depth, eh?
Jim "Coach" Coffman is our man on Mondays. He welcomes your comments.
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