I am a real sports enthusiast. Basketball, track, swimming, lacrosse. Bring it on.
Yet I didn’t even know the Olympic Games were starting this Friday night. I couldn’t care less.
Why is an avid fan, lover of sport, somebody who still reads the sports pages in the newspaper, so oblivious to the 12 million hours of Olympic TV coverage over the next 16 days?
Because it is corporate, bureaucratized, and packaged. It is a Nike blur. It isn’t the games that started on a shoestring in 1896. It isn’t even the political games of 1972, when 11 Israeli athletes were murdered in Germany. It isn’t the indefatigable Bob Costas, living on NoDoz as he somehow stayed on top of 50 Sports and 500 events.
Now it’s NBC and its 30 affiliate networks, including Fubu TV, Peacock and the Golf Channel. And who cares if the US plays Iran in basketball at midnight this Saturday. Even the mullahs will forget to watch.
The one thing we MUST remember about these games is who is wearing what footwear. It no longer really matters if the United States or Russia or China wins more gold medals. The only important issue is Nike versus Adidas in all of its permutations.
This is why I am so upset that the American Ninja Warrior semi-finals from the Tacoma Dome were shelved for a week to make room for Ivory Coast vs Germany Olympic soccer.
American Ninja Warrior is what the Olympics used to be. The athletes are real people, genuine amateurs. They have been practicing in local gyms and on improvised home designed and built equipment. They have no sponsors, most of them don’t even wear shoes when attempting to navigate the obstacles, and the seasoned competitors often fail to get past the first round. The participants root for one another. Many of them have other careers. Their personal stories are filled with trauma and tragedy, which makes us want to follow them year after year.
It is packaged television, and the obstacles are contrived to send the most Warriors into the water, but many of the obstacles are designed by devotees of the show.
Neither Nike or Adidas is a sponsor. Contestants sometimes have green hair and carry a few extra pounds. Women compete head-on with men. Gender is not an issue like in women’s weightlifting at the Olympics.
American Ninja Warrior is apolitical. COVID-19 is not an issue.
Fubu TV and Peacock can play backstroke all night for two weeks. Give me reruns of American Ninja Warrior. The 2020 Olympics start Friday night, but they are yesterday to me.
Question: What event do you care about at the Olympics?