I am truly excited, tomorrow is the opening ceremony for the Olympics. Just to be sure that everyone understands this I am not being sarcastic. I love sports and to me there is no better venue for true competition than the Olympics. The greatest athletes gather together and compete, push their bodies to the limits to achieve a victory that can be equal to no other. There will high profile winners like Michael Phelps, and there will be amazing stories of upset, like Rulan Gardner defeating the Russian Bear who had been undefeated for 13 years. This is what I love. Unfortunately there is the political side to the games, for everybody who has been living under a rock the games are being held in China this year. Now there are groups and organizations out there who have decided that this will be their venue to protest China on its human rights violations, it economic policies, the price of rice, lead in their lead..... And the list goes on. I am not one to downplay the fact that China's policies and procedures are down right inhuman and despicable, but in a country of over 1 billion people the ones who are making the decisions equate to less than 1% of 1% of the population. For the most part as far as I can tell, the majority of the citizens of China are excited and proud to have this honored event to be held in their country. If you want to protest China's policies and history do you really think that screaming at a gymnast or swimmer is going to change the world? Do the right thing and protest the consulates, the ministry, and the central government. Write letters to your congressman and senators, let them know how you feel and the let them take action. I honestly believe that the men and women who are participating in the Olympics should be given the respect that they have most defiantly earned. They are not kings and queens, presidents and prime ministers, they are athlete’s period. They have achieved the highest pinnacle of their sport and are competing against others who have done the same. Now some people have decided to inject as much controversy into the games as possible, let’s run down some of these "despicable" issues ourselves.
1. Becky Hammon. Now unless you are a WNBA fan or are from South Dakota, this may be a name you are not familure with. Becky Hammon is a phenomenal basketball player who last year was the runner up for MVP of the league. She is well respected throughout the basketball community and is highly sought after for endorsements and to play. Now with that kind of resume you would think that she would be a shoe in for at least a tryout for the Olympic team....Not. She didn't even receive consideration or at the very least an invite to tryout. This is the all American girl next door, who can play the pants of most guards in the NBA. Well since the good ol USA didn't make her an offer the Russian's did. What how is this possible she is from South Dakota, and last time I looked that was still right below North Dakota and part of the USA. Well as it turns out since she has accepted a contract to play in the European league for the Russian team she has been given the opportunity to become a naturalized citizen and play for Russia. I am not mad at this girl, she has done nothing more than go out and be the best at her sport that she can be, she has been given the awards and alidades of being at the top of her game but when it came down to representing her nation at the highest level she was snubbed. So if it comes down to the wire and the USA is competing against Russia and Becky Hammon has the ball and is going for the game winning shot, I may just be pulling for her to make it.
2. The Beijing air. The US cycling team showed up at the Beijing airport wearing specially designed masks to help cut down on the intake of Carbon Monoxide in the city. Now they have to apologize for taking steps to protect their lungs from an area that has been inundated for years with pollution and smog. How dare them. Come on people we all know that in the last 10 years the population of cars in Beijing has increased almost 100 fold. There have been news articles over the last year talking about the pollution and how China is doing it's best to combat this issue. How can you really blame these athletes for wanting to take necessary means to protect themselves?
3. Will these games be clean? There was an article the other day on MSNBC about how it now coming to light that the not all the testing procedures that are being used today to test for performance enhancing drugs are reliable. With this revelation I am afraid that it will give those who are prone to cheating an argument if they come up positive, and on the other hand since some of these tests are actually coming up with false positives will it hurt the athlete who is clean and has just done their very best?
4. Terrorist. It is sad that we have to take such extreme measure to ensure the safety of not only the athletes but also for the spectators. There have been numerous threats and incidents leading up to the Olympics that for a lot of us there are images of the 72 Olympics when the PLO kidnapped and killed members of the Israel team. Let's hope that they are only threats and this is a peaceful and safe event.
So this year let us celebrate together, root for the small contingent from a free Iraq as they transcend boundaries, watch as a young man from Iowa tries to surpass his idols legacy of gold medals won in the Olympics. Let’s hope for some small victory as every person competes with honor and dignity, bringing pride to their country. Look for the upsets, the gimmes and just the sheer joy on the competitors as they give their all.
Let the games begin.