By In Stuff


So, been meaning to check in. But, well, the Olympics …

Here are a few links:

BALANCE BEAM: The beam hates everyone.

LANE 8: Show up to see Bolt, see a ridiculous world record for free.

BOLT: All Usain Bolt does is run.

DEAR JORDAN: Bulk email all the golfers who didn’t show up.

NICO: The cool story of boxer Nico Hernandez.

PHELPS: Ran out of words for Michael Phelps eight years ago. He keeps doing wonders.

NO CHEERING IN THE PRESS BOX: Broke the rule and cheered for Kathleen Baker.

FIJI!: The first Olympic medal for Fiji is gold, and it it’s in the awesome rugby sevens.

THE DRUG CULTURE: Olympic athletes have started to call out drug cheats, with mixed results.


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27 Responses to Olympics!

  1. KCJoe says:

    Wow. 9 articles. Some heartwarming and tear inducing and some poignant and thought provoking but all well written, as always.

    Thank You

  2. Mark Daniel says:

    I totally agree on the Balance Beam column. I think they should add an “average” person to these competitions. Just as a control.
    So when Usain Bolt is racing with 7 other competitors, add in a 9th lane for some 30-year old dude who is in reasonably good shape. Not a sprinter, mind you. Just some guy. The Olympics are on NBC, so maybe Jimmy Fallon would do it.
    While Bolt ran the 100-m dash in 9.81 seconds, how far ahead of Fallon would he be?

    • Gerry says:

      Mark, that may be the single best comment anyone has ever posted in the history of the internet.

    • BobDD says:

      Reminds me of when Little Annie Fanny ran in the Olympics – with perhaps unsurprising results.

    • Doug Lawrence says:

      I’ve heard this one before, and I like it. Had one more thought during swimming (there appear to be two empty lanes at the far outside of the pool, probably so no-one has to swim against the wall.) Average Joe 1 starts with the Olympians, and we all get to see just how utterly destroyed he gets in the first 5 meters. But average Joe 2 gets a head start. So if the average time for an event is 1:00 minute and average Joe can do it in 3:00 minutes, average Joe gets a 2 minute head start. Watching the Olympians reel in average Joe would also be a good way for a non-enthusiast like me to understand how incredible these athletes are. Another one I noticed was rowing. I figured out they were moving about the same speed as I think either the 3000 or 10k runners were. Why not have them side by side? (Please do not allow me or anyone like me to actually ruin the Olympics)

  3. invitro says:

    “Are athletes willing to give in to even more frequent and intrusive drug testing?” They should, for the frequent part, anyway. I don’t know what “instrusive” means. Unless it’s being proposed that an IOC official live in the bathroom of the athletes.

    It would be gutsy for the IOC to strip every single medal won by any Cold War Communist country. I don’t know if it’d be fair, but I think it’d be very close to fair.

    Kitty Chiller is not a real name. Even for a chef de mission of a country on the fringes of civilization.

    • Marc Schneider says:

      Would that include countries like Poland, Czechoslovakia, etc., ie countries that were communist due to being occupied by the Red Army and that are now effectively US allies?

      • Rob Smith says:

        So, the East Germans are now part of the West. That doesn’t mean they didn’t have the most wide spread doping plan in Olympics history…. up until modern day Russia, that is.

        Funny how Germany doesn’t rake in the medals like East Germany once did.

        • Marc Schneider says:

          But Invitro’s comment assumes that the former Warsaw Pact countries are still doping. I don’t know if that’s true or not. East Germany no longer exists so I’m not sure what the relevance is of talking about it’s doping plan. No one is really questioning that the communist countries benefitted from doping-and certainly no one questioned it at the time. But Invitro was arguing that the IOC should strip current athletes from those countries of their medals because, I guess, that they still benefit from the communist-era doping programs. That doesn’t make much sense to me, at least not without some proof. The fact that Germany doesn’t win medals like East Germany did suggests that those programs are no longer in place. So, I don’t know what your point is.

          • Andy says:

            I think he’s proposing retroactively stripping the medals from the athletes who won during the time those state-sponsored doping programs were active. But it’s not entirely clear.

          • invitro says:

            I am not saying anything whatsoever about current athletes. By “Cold War Communist” countries, I mean just that: countries that were communist during the Cold War, which ended in 1990 or 1991, and medals that were won during the Cold War. And again, I don’t know if this would be fair. My knowledge of doping is not nearly good enough to say. I’m just throwing it out there.
            And it was common knowledge that at least East Germany was doping like crazy. I remember a Saturday Night Live skit where Kevin Nealon was a GDR weightlifter, and when he tried to lift a barbell, his arms ripped off instead. You probably remember that too.

      • invitro says:

        And Marc, I don’t know if it would include Poland and Czechoslovakia. Probably not. I was thinking about the USSR, the GDR, and China when I typed my comment. It was not very well thought out.

        • Marc W. Schneider says:

          Fair enough.. But I think at some point there has to be a statute of limitations on this kind of stuff.

          • invitro says:

            Sure, statutes of limitations are generally good. It may be better to instead fire the IOC members who allowed the doping to take place without (significant) penalty. But then we’re talking fixing the IOC, which is futile, if it’s as corrupt as everyone says.

  4. MCD says:

    Lots of good stuff here.

    While I respect King for speaking out and sticking to her guns regarding doping, I do find some sympathy for Efimova. After Russia track athlete Yulia Stepanova blew the whistle on the Russian government-backed doping program, she not only had to skip the games, but went into hiding, expressing concern for her safety. Not only was Efimova probably pressured into doping in the first place, she finds herself in a position where she has to publicly attribute the negative reaction towards her as “politically motivated”. She undoubtedly knows how silly these claims sound, but she alone is the one that has to face public ridicule, while Putin uses her plight and those of banned Russian athletes as fuel at home for his “the world is against Russia” political machinations.

  5. Rower41 says:

    I have enjoyed all your Olympic posts. In fact, I would give all of NBC a gold medal for these Olympics. My cable plan has it on 3 channels so we have been able to follow nearly every event. My wife and children love watching the games just like we always have. We cheered (loudly) for Kathleen Baker and all of the participants who rise to the top of their game just to get the invite. It’s what you were feeling too. There are so many great stories to watch, and read: Phelps, the 8 crew dynasty, our gymnast superstars, and Katie Ledecky, swimming one entire body-length ahead of the yellow world record line set by Katie Ledecky. Amazing.

    Rollins – Ali – Castlin just now swept the 100m hurdles. Wow.

    Great post on Fiji. Thanks. Rugby matters. In my house we watch as much rugby as we can. After beating the U.S. team, I was glad to see Fiji win it all, and your post describes why. That medal is really special. For those that play or have played, it becomes more like a cult than a sport. It is equitable. It is simple. Move the ball forward. It just makes sense. Everyone plays all of the entire game. Substitutions are not frequent and often because a player is injured. The ball is the scrimmage line. The ball almost always goes to the advantage and a try is awarded if human-ball-Earth touch (actually touching it down) rather than some ridiculous breaking of an imaginary plane. In rugby union (15 x side), your scrum half (#9) plays a quarter of the way back from where the ball enters play; the rest of the backs are half-way back except for 1 brave player who is fully-back so that he can be wary of kicks for terrain grabbing. There are no little stoppages to huddle around for a meeting and you don’t get to leave the field without playing defense. How ridiculous is that anyway? The very idea of a 350 lb man in tights trying to play humors me. (Although some of my old team mates that still play are getting close -LOL. (See:

    Your post on the “drug culture” was important, I think. Journalists should spend more time thinking of how to better frame better questions for us rather than trying to sell us on their opinion. Mine shifted significantly after reading your post. Still though, I agree with the athletes that speak about or demonstrate their sense of fairness. If only more of the world did this…

    My only complaint: The lead story on the NBC evening news today was about whether or not swimmers were robbed of something like $130 in Rio. (Does the “extremely careless” defense only work in National Security matters?) After a commercial, follow on stories included the tens of thousands of Americans displaced by fire and water disasters. That’s not right.

    • invitro says:

      I don’t think the $130 was the big deal in that story. It was that they had a gun pointed at their head (which we now know may not have been entirely true). I think I’d rather be displaced by flooding or a fire than have a gun pointed at my head in an area known for its massive murder rate. I’m not sure; none of these things have happened to me, although I was living in Raleigh when Hurricane Andrew hit, and ripped the roof off the apartment adjacent to mine. And “extremely careless” might apply to people who chose to live in areas of California that have been known to be beset by wildfires. I don’t know if Louisiana is prone to severe flooding or not.

  6. invitro says:

    I am generally somewhere between blase’ and antagonistic toward the Olympics, the latter being because I despise the IOC. But I usually try to get my Oly spirit up a bit, and at least try to watch several hours of events, and catch some of the exploits of these athletes who often can inspire even a tired old cynic like me. And I did this year, and enjoyed watching some rugby 7’s in particular. But the rest… so boring. I kept turning to whatever baseball game was on. MLB seems to be in a very good place now, with a fair degree of parity but also a couple of great teams, and tons of exciting players (I still go with Altuve for #1 in that spot), with the numbness caused by years of PED’s now almost entirely washed away. I don’t like the expanded playoffs any more than I used to, but after following the Astros all season, I know that just making the playoffs is still difficult.

    • Marc W. Schneider says:

      Agreed and I also wonder whose idea it was to include beach volleyball in the Olympics with women in bikinis. Not that I’m complaining. Why do they feel the need to include more and more silly sports in the Olympics? What’s next, chess?

      • billydaking says:

        Considering that the two “new” sports that they’ve added to this year’s Olympics are golf and the perfectly awesome rugby sevens….this is a rather unfortunate comment. Even more so when baseball and softball are among the “new” sports back in for the Tokyo games.

        (Beach volleyball was added in the 1996 games in Atlanta, along with mountain biking, so it’s been around for 20 years. And it was a trial/demonstration sport at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, which is how the IOC used to try out newer sports like the extreme winter sports. As for the bikini…apparently, you can thank the players for that. Apparently, the governing body for the sport attempted to require a one-piece swimsuit or shorts as the uniform, but the majority of players preferred the two-piece bikini.)

        Side note…the women’s gold medal match between Russia and France was the first time I witnessed handball. How in the hell this is not a thing in the U.S. yet? It’s like the insane parts of lacrosse and baskeball mashed together.

        • invitro says:

          I like the “silly” sports. Except curling, that’s nothing but hipster crap. … It makes sense that the women volleyballers would want to wear a bikini to enhance their popularity and thus money-making opportunities. I personally avoid women’s beach volleyball. While I find athleticism as generally beneficial to attractiveness, you can take anything too far, and the six-packs I’ve seen are decidedly unattractive. Just my opinion as always. … I have wanted to check out handball for a long time but forgot about it for this Olympics. I’ll try again in four years. I want to watch top-level racquetball and squash, too.

          • invitro says:

            And I think dodgeball should be in the Olympics. I watched all of those dodgeball TV shows that were on about 10 years ago. I think it’s a legit sport, and is hella exciting if the players are super skilled.

        • Marc Schneider says:

          Well, I would just as soon that baseball not be in the games. If it’s going to be legit, the majors would have to take a two week break and I don’t want to see that. And there’s no need for golf and tennis either; I love the sports but they have their own forums. As for rugby, I’m fine with having that in the games, but they seem to come up with new “sports” every Olympics.

    • Rower41 says:

      They definitely should keep the rugby 7’s. I admit that I watched a bit of all the sports and the handball was fantastic. It surprises me that it does not get more violent. The very best part of the Rio Olympics was the timing. So thankful they held it this summer while my team, The Cincinnati Reds, is experimenting with using professional bowlers on their pitching staff.

  7. Tom says:

    Gary Hall Junior (who i believe was the last person to win the 50 free two straight Olympics) was interviewed on Nightline something like 10-20 years ago and was asked what to do about the drug cheats. His answer was simple – retroactive testing and lifetime bans. Still have not heard a better answer. And I am glad Lily King gave that answer on Gatlin. I am glad he has (hopefully) stayed clean for 10 years but two times is enough to be banned IMHO.

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