It’s hard to imagine but in just over 48 hours the London Olympics will be history. For me, this begs the eternal, existential question: What the hell am I going to do now?
Frankly, being a fan of the Olympics hasn’t been that easy. In the past week and a half I’ve watched so much TV that I’ve had to change the batteries in my remote. Twice.
The overriding observation I’ve taken from the games is … gawd, I’ve gotten flabby! Seeing all those six-pack abs, I suddenly realized that my stomach looks like the Pillsbury Doughboy. (Please don’t e-mail suggesting sit-ups.)
How addicted am I to the Olympics? Put it this way, I probably should practice, “Hi, my name is Jack.” It started right from the opening ceremonies, which even featured the 86-year-old queen of England in a James Bond spoof. To be honest, however, her highness looked like she’d prefer to be somewhere else, or anywhere else. As Barbara Walters critiqued on “The View,” the queen “looked grumpy.” Whoopi Goldberg suggested that the queen’s grimace might have been because “her girdle was too tight.”
Also participating in the opening ceremonies was Paul McCartney. I love the Beatles. As a kid I saw “Help” 10 times and I still have “The White Album.” (To my younger readers, an “album” was a circular piece of vinyl that … never mind.)
I hate to say this, but Sir Paul looks disturbingly like Bruce Jenner (1976 decathlon gold medalist but famous today as the Kardashian’s stepfather). The striking resemblance between Paul and Bruce suggests that either the two have the same plastic surgeon, or that after a certain number of face lifts everyone tends to look alike.
Speaking of looks, but thankfully in a more positive vein, every Olympic sport seems to have its own unique physique. The gymnasts are short but muscle-bound, the swimmers are giants with humongous shoulders and the sprinters are like piston-powered machines.
While on the subject of swimmers, has there ever been a more adorable Olympian than high-school senior Melissa Jeannette (“Missy”) Franklin? All she did in London was win four gold medals, one bronze and set the world record in the 200 meter backstroke. And she just turned 17 in May!
Franklin is 6 feet, 1 inch tall and has size 13 feet, or “built-in flippers,” as her father jokes. (I’m sure she’s thrilled he said that … not.) Missy refuses endorsements so she can remain an amateur and swim in college. How admirable is that? She’s so all-American sweet, Wheaties should put her on their cereal box for the next decade.
But it looks like the Wheaties honor might go to gymnast Gabrielle Douglas. At 16, Gabby, nicknamed “The Flying Squirrel,” is the first American to win team and all-around gold medals at the same Olympics and the first African-American to win the individual all-around competition.
NBC reportedly paid $1 billion for the broadcast rights to the 2012 Olympics. Another indicator that the games are grossly overly commercialized, it’s estimated that “The Flying Squirrel” may leave London with endorsement deals in excess of $10 million.
Apparently, the American Olympic Committee pays our athletes. It breaks down to $25,000 for gold, $15,000 for silver and $10,000 for bronze. (But there’s no truth to the rumor that for fourth place you get a set of steak knives.)
Commercialism aside, there also are no end to heart-warming stories at the London Olympics. To me none is more inspiring than “Blade Runner” Oscar Pistorius from South Africa, aka “the fastest man on no legs.”
Born without fibula, when Oscar was 11-months both legs were amputated below his knees. Amazingly, he runs on carbon fiber artificial limbs. Pistorius was eliminated in the 400 meter semi-finals, but in my book he won gold. (American hurdler Lolo Jones also overcame enormous childhood hardships and it annoys the hell out of me she’s criticized for finishing fourth.)
As the games wind down, one thing I won’t miss are the 20 minutes of commercials every hour. (Including endless promos for Matthew Perry’s upcoming show, which I fear looks like a real turkey.) I also won’t miss Ryan Seacrest, who evidently has to be on every show NBC produces. And while I’m a Bob Costas fan, at 60 he must be an alien because he doesn’t age like a human.
But I will miss turning on the TV day or night and seeing incredibly gifted athletes from all over the world competing on the greatest stage. And I will miss rooting for the U.S. against China in the medal count. (We probably should let them win or they may demand we pay back all the money we’ve borrowed.)
The next summer games are in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. What am I going to do between now and then? Please don’t e-mail suggesting sit-ups.
If he isn’t too busy changing batteries to his TV remote control, Jack can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.