As of Friday night, please don’t ring my phone. That’s because I’ll be glued to the tube (as in television), not London subway to watch the march of the athletes in the 2012 Olympics and the well crafted opening ceremonies.
There are just places where the Olympics ought to be, and others, not so. Los Angeles is a natural setting. So too is Paris, Melbourne and now London again. But I don’t know about Rio, Moscow, Mexico City or other places that it has been before.
The Olympics are my passion. If I had my life to do over, that’s the one thing I’d want to do--be some kind of Olympic athlete.
But 90 pound high schoolers who ran slowly in cross country don’t get a spot on the Olympic team.
Lucky for me, I got to cover the 1984 Olympics in LA, courtesy of KMOX Radio and the St. Louis Suburban Journals. I didn’t have credentials. I just wrote about the games from the stands and did reports from heavens yes, pay phones.
My how things have changed.
In the late 1940s, my dad was the fastest sprinter in Southern Germany. He had a 100 yard dash time, slightly slower than Olympian Jesse Owens. But he had to flee Nazi Germany and his Olympic dreams were over after leaving Europe forever in 1939. Almost until he died, he could beat me in a footrace by a mile.
The 1984 Olympics were exceptional. You have no idea the thrill watching live Jackie Joyner Kersee, Edwin Moses or the dream volleyball and basketball teams and all the modern day athletes who made the American team so famous. I covered numerous track and field sessions at the Coliseum at Southern California along with outdoor swimming at the McDonald’s pool right there on the USC campus.
For 19 days, the Olympics dominated LA. All of a sudden, the roads were not clogged. Athletes were prominent everywhere, primarily on the campuses of USC, UCLA and Long Beach State. Events were as far flung as pistol shooting in Las Vegas to sailing at San Diego.
Many LA residents rented out their palatial homes and fled to Europe and other places. The city almost stopped for these particular games.
I would estimate for the vast majority, not winning but being part of the games is what its really all about. When you see that parade of athletes Friday night, be reminded the vast majority will be no where near any medal stands.
I think the best part of the TV coverage are the up close and personal profiles that have been done so well months and years before and will unfold over the next 14 or so days. Also, the banter by Bob Costas during the lulls in action is worth its weight in gold. (no pun intended).
Olympic fanatics will flock to London from all over the World. The true believers stand out in the stands and on the streets. You can spot them anywhere.
Let the games begin. I’ll be glued to my television the next two weeks.
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