Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Ho-Hum, Another Boring Olympics

By Anthony Brancato

If you think that COVID is ruining the Olympics, you're wrong.

The Olympics were ruined 30 years ago — when the Cold War ended.

Before that, just about every American got a guilty pleasure — even if they tried to hide it — from rooting against "the communists." And that's how they put it: Not "the Russians," or even "the Soviets" — but "the communists."

You see, the Olympics in general, and the Summer Olympics in particular, had become a major Cold War battleground — and beating out "the communists" for the "overall gold medal," which didn't even actually exist, was America's number-one objective every four years.

This mentality peaked at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, even though that aspect was far overshadowed by the terrorist group "Black September's" kidnapping and murder of 11 Israeli athletes at the event (ironically, "Black September" was named after September of 1970, when the forces of Jordan's King Hussein massacred 3,400 Palestinian refugees in camps in the East Bank, so the Israelis actually had nothing to do with it).

The Olympic controversy centered around the men's basketball gold medal game (women would not compete in Olympic basketball until the following Olympiad at Montreal, in 1976) between the United States and the Soviet Union. Trailing by one point with one second remaining in the game, the referee ordered the game clock reset to three seconds — which, as it turned out, was enough time for the Soviets to inbound the ball and score the winning basket.

The victory gave the Soviet Union 50 gold medals (this being the final event of the entire Olympiad), 50 years after the communist victory in the Bolshevik Revolution. Pravda, Izvestia, and all the rest of the Soviet press reveled in the symbolism.

Meanwhile, after unsuccessfully protesting the resetting of the game clock, the American players have refused to accept their silver medals — and they remain unclaimed to this day.

One supposes that we could root against Iran and other Muslim countries — and quite a few Americans have been rooting against mixed-martial-arts fighters who happen to be both Muslim and Russian, such as the Khabib Nurmagomedov, the maybe-maybe-not-retired, undefeated Dagestani fighter, and the aptly-named, once-beaten Islam Makhachev, also from Dagestan.

Yet neither their religion nor their nationality really figure into why the peanut gallery, as the generation that came along immediately prior to the generation to which this writer belongs, were referred to, dislikes them so much.

You see, these Dagestani and Chechen fighters, much like the retired (but rumored to becoming unretired) Rashad Evans, prefer to rely heavily on their wrestling skills, causing them to be castigated as "boring" fighters, because they won't just stand there like those Rock-'Em-Sock-'Em Robots that this observer remembers from his own childhood and get knocked the bleep out, as they say in this industry.

In any event, try not to get bored as you watch the Olympics — and also try to ignore the empty stadiums in front of which the athletes will perform.

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