I sorta gave up on them after the organizing committees decided to allow professional athletes to compete.
Look, I was as big a supporter of The Dream Team as anyone at the time. After a couple of Olympics where our college students couldn't win out over what were essentially pro teams from other countries, I didn't have a problem with the rules being changed so we could send our best (read: professional) athletes to compete as well. It was fun. Barkley, Jordan, all those guys . . . they threw a beat down on the world that said -- yeah, our best can beat your best.
But after the point was made, the USOC should have made the honorable (I know -- what am I thinking?) decision to voluntarily not send pro athletes anymore and return to the ideal of the Olympics -- the best in pure athletics, sport for the sake of competition and testing one's limits. Not stuffing one's wallet with cash.
Now we have the spectacle of Serena Williams lumbering down to Rio to win yet another gold medal in tennis. Serena is basically an NFL linebacker in a dress. She's going to thunder 150mph serves past spindly 97lb teenagers from outer west somewhereistan, probably racking up a couple of hundred aces as she crushes the field on her way to the medal round. She might have to actually make a couple of ground strokes per set in the medal round. And after winning another gold in straight sets, she'll dance around talking about how proud she is to represent her country and how this medal is so important to her, blah, blah, blah.
The only thing she's representing is herself. And her overinflated ego. Her sole purpose is to toss another trinket into the trophy case in her mansion and pose for a few more magazine covers.
It is obscene. It's a perversion of the Olympic ideal. And I can't watch it.
And this goes for the pro golfers and pro baseball players and pro basketball players, etc. Track and Field is a little less tainted. But still. These athletes making hundreds of thousands of dollars while training and traveling and competing year round, with the best support money can buy . . . like I said, obscene.
And one other thing. While Serena or Rory or some random NBA millionaire is sitting in luxury comfort in Rio, somewhere in this country (or some other country) there's a teenager who is at his or her physical peak. Everything in a decade long pursuit of this one moment has come together at just the right time. Their tiny window of opportunity is open. And some selfish, ego-driven professional millionaire just pushed them out of the way to feed their publicity machine.
And for that kid, this was a once-in-a-lifetime moment. They'll never get this chance again. These pros simply say they'll compete and the respective sport organizations happily push the nobody's out of the way to make room for the big guns.
It's a horrible, terrible way to crush someone's dreams. Selfish and shameful. Like I said . . . obscene. And that doesn't even take into account the athletes that make it to the games from other countries that get trampled under the feet of these arrogant millionaires on their way to adding a leverage chip to their next contract negotiation.
There will never be another Miracle on Ice another Mark Spitz or any of the other heart-warming moments we've enjoyed through the years. Because almost no one is an amateur anymore. Michael Phelps? He's not an amateur. He earns $6mil per year. So no waiting on tables for him while trying to fit his swim training in around his day-to-day job.
It's just taken the fun out of it for me. Maybe I'm being to cranky about it. I'll try to pay some attention, but it just isn't must watch tv for me anymore.