Watching the Olympics … or not


This morning I learned that the Summer Olympics from Tokyo had the lowest opening viewership ratings in 33 years. Many other people have expressed their opinion on why this is so, from ungrateful athletes to just not caring. I will be honest and state that so far, I have not watched a single minute. I have no reason or grudge or axe to grind, I am just not interested at this point…and I am kind of ashamed of myself.

The Summer Olympics come around every four years. For four long years, athletes from all over the world work their butts off to represent their country in the games, and to become at that moment in time, the best in the world. I don’t know how many of us give much thought to the time, effort, expense, blood, tears, injuries, and dedication it takes to train that long. As with most athletes, they enjoy displaying their talents in front of large crowds and on the television. That seems to get the adrenaline flowing for athletes. They want to show their best to the most people. I get that. I always liked playing football in front of big crowds. It just makes you play harder. It seems to me that maybe I am letting them down a little bit. I should try to watch more. There are some events I really enjoy. I like golf, swimming, and some track events (you know, like Clayton Murphy and his run.) and watching Simone Biles. She is fantastic, as is the whole women’s gymnastic team. So why am I so ambivalent about the games this time?

To be honest, I think the games here in the United States have become too damn political! I know that turns off a lot of people, and that part bothers me, but not to the extent I shouldn’t watch the athletes who represent us with pride. I have a problem with the protests and such and it might not be what you think: I hate to see the protests, I think they are mostly for attention anyway. At the same time, it is the freedom Americans fought and died for to let people express themselves and to share their views. I’m good with that. Quite the conundrum, don’t you think? I don’t watch women’s soccer, and some track events because…well, I just don’t need the politics. I did find it funny that the two most political teams at the games, the Men’s basketball team, and the Women’s soccer team both got their butts handed to them by two teams they should have beaten! (Karma? Maybe!) But, I should watch the games I enjoy, and maybe we all should. The best athletes in the world are gathered together and we have the opportunity to see them perform, so let’s make the effort.

Still, I have this blasé attitude toward the games. I know, I just said let’s all watch the games, but…I still can’t get excited about it. I don’t know why. Maybe it is because the last two years have been so screwed up, and I have better things to do. I do not think it is totally politics because I can skip those events I don’t care about. Maybe as I have gotten older (I was gonna say matured, but Larry and Matt are sitting close by and I don’t need the comments!…) my tastes have changed. I still enjoy watching great athletes perform, but just not as much. Maybe it is age, and I do have better things to do. This might also explain the ratings drop too, as America is getting older, we want to enjoy our time doing old people’s stuff more!

Anyway, I will watch the golf, and Clayton Murphy, and some swimming and gymnastics…..if I have the time! (Clayton Murphy for sure!) Politics, COVID-19, lower crowds, hot weather, or whatever, the Olympics are still the Olympics. Just hope I can get more excited…How about you? That’s the way I see it, from the sidelines.

By Michael Stegall

From the Sidelines

Contributing columnist Mike Stegall a 27-year former OHSAA high school football official and current Darke County Commissioner.

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