Weekend in Review
Hurricane Charley: I'm glad it didn't hit where I'm at, but I feel for those who were hit by it. Several donation and volunteer programs are in full swing for those affected, and I hope people take advantage of them. The most frustrating part of it all was waiting. Sitting around, knowing it may be headed your way, and not being able to do a thing about it. Nothing like a force of nature to make us feel as powerless and puny as we really are in the grand scheme of things.
For those who complain about having to evacuate "for nothing" and say they won't bother next time, I say go for it. I'm all for thinning the herd by getting rid of a few idiots. After seeing what Charley did to Punta Gorda and other areas, if there's even a possibility of a storm turning my way, I'm preparing for the worst.
Olympics: The opening ceremony was excellent and redeemed the Greek nation, which was under a lot of fire for their preparation or lack thereof. I thoroughly enjoyed it. As for the competition so far, here are the good, the bad, and the ugly.
The Good: Michael Phelps is winning medals left and right, even if the color isn't what some might have hoped. I list him under the good because when he's interviewed, you really get the sense that this is a guy who loves competition and is truly proud to just be there competing. All of the pressure the media has tried to put on him hasn't appeared to affect his perspective so far, and I hope it won't.
The US men's gymnastics team put in a tremendous effort en route to their silver medal last night. Japan showed that they were undoubtedly the gold medal team for these games, but the US men rallied back from a disappointing rings rotation to put up 6 excellent routines on the parallel and high bars and beat out the Romanian team in the process.
The Bad: The United States' rose-colored glasses approach to the games. Watching commercials and even the coverage of the games, you'd think we're the favorite in every event. Let's be honest and say that Michael Phelps is competing against two or three guys (as he was in the 200 freestyle) that will likely beat him. From that perspective, his bronze in the event is a tremendous accomplishment, which it was. From the perspective of "there goes his shot at the Spitz record," it's a disappointment. While I understand the desire to get the viewing public excited about the games and the competitors, let's still respect the tremendous athletes from other countries by being realistic in our perspective.
The Ugly: The US men's basketball team was an embarrassment to the United States on Sunday. I hope we go back to using amateurs for the next games, which I know we won't. Two things make me angry- one, the list of athletes who declined the invitation to compete. While I understand their hesitance to endanger their money-making season playing ability, it's an incredibly selfish thing to not represent your country in a sport you excel at. The second is the attitude of the US team. They appear to think they're entitled to the gold just for showing up. They seem to think they can come back from any deficit. There is no sense of urgency, no team-oriented desire to win that was apparent in Sunday's game.
That said, I admire Iverson, James, and Duncan for playing in the games. The other players should be honored to be there- none of them are among the best we have to offer. The problem is in the incentives that exist for NBA players not to play. Why threaten your season, and all of the money that comes with it, for international competition that isn't rewarding to those with a money focus? Let's go back to recruiting guys who have a genuine desire to play and to win, and see what they can accomplish. If some of them are NBA players, great. If not, start visiting colleges. I've never seen a more disappointing "team" effort than I saw against Puerto Rico. Whom, by the way, were a bunch of guys with a genuine desire to play and to win. Funny how that works.