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Sex Appeal at the Olympics

There, I got your attention with the one word that seems to stop most people in their tracks. Now that I opened the can of worms, (sorry worms …not sexy) lets discuss the subject.   Most of us living and breathing sports fans watched a portion of the Olympics with lots of young and amazing athletes performing on the world’s biggest stage.  The athletic bodies where in full display for us to marvel at and only wish we had a set of abdominals and biceps to match.

Maybe it was only me but I suspect that I was not alone in noticing the track and field runners seem to be wearing less than usual.   As a man I am not so prudent to complain but I have to wonder why a track runner is competing in basically a swimsuit along with jewelry and lipstick.  Maybe these athletes that are dolled are presenting  themselves to potential suiters when the Olympics are done.  As for  woman’s beach volleyball, the two piece athletic gear is a bikini.  I am not sure why they are playing in a bikini but maybe it is keep the spirit of the beach intact.

Not to be lost in the shuffle are the all the men parading around in all there athletic glory.  My wife enjoyed the swimming and couldn’t help herself to remark about a swimmers physic.  The usual comment after that was how that I should ramp up my workouts to incorporate more upper body weightlifting and perhaps some added core work.   I can take those comments two ways,  I can either be insulted and not understand why she can’t accept the way I look or I can think that she couldn’t take her hands off of me if I had a swimmers body.  Honestly, I don’t swim much but enjoy the challenge she has presented to me.

I enjoy the Olympics but I enjoy the Summer Olympics even more. There is a wider range of events and I feel that can relate to athletes because of the same sports that I once competed in. The summer Olympics seems to be more compelling and offers bigger stories and world records and milestones are constantly being set.   Take for instance, the young man from South Africa,  Wayde van Niekerk   who won the 400m in track and field, he broke the world record.  He ran in the far outside lane and broke the world record with a time of 43.03, a record that stood for seventeen years.

Now what does Wayde van Niekerk have to do with sex appeal? Probably nothing but it goes to show you that the Olympics are no different than a Hollywood movie, give me drama, give me some conflict and give me some sex appeal.   As pure as we want the Olympics to be, they are packaged and presented to us with the things that all of us humans desire.  I personally don’t what all of the showing of skin to drift off in some weird tangent like women’s judo in two piece outfits.   There must be some restraint on this trend unless there are scientific studies that prove athletes perform better in less clothing.  I am just not sure, I guess we will see in Tokyo in 2020 if anybody competes in clothes.

Photo – Beach Volleyball (10swim-1342-superJumbo-v4www.upi.com) Phelps (www.nytimes.com)

The Decathlon and Heptathlon – Still the Greatest Litmus for Athletes

The ten events that are required in the Olympic Decathlon which involve running, jumping and throwing are the only true litmus test to see who stands as the best overall athlete. The Heptathlon is the woman’s version which consists of seven track and field events. The last two weeks has showcased some amazing athletes that are certainly the best in their sport but how many of them can high jump over six feet? Or throw a shot put over fifty feet.  You know the answer.  Some can do certain feats but not combine the skills to compete in the Decathlon and Heptathlon.  Of course sometimes it takes least ten years or more of training and competing just to even sniff an Olympic medal.

There are athletes in professional sports that I have seen that could have been a decathlete. Take for instance LeBron James, probably the closest person in the NBA that could have been a decathlete.    There a handful of NFL player that have the right combination of speed, strength and agility that fit the mold.  As you see, the test is very select and only a small portion of the athletic gene pool could make it in the decathlon.

In the 1970’s, there was a television program called “Superstars” that was started by ABC sports. The program gathered great athletes from a variety of professional sports to compete in ten events.  Of course they were not all decathlon events except the hundred yard dash.  An athlete could compete up to seven events but no athlete was permitted to compete in the sport of his or her discipline.   Some of the events were weightlifting, bicycling, swimming, bowling, half mile and the obstacle course.  The first athlete to win the show was pole vaulter Bog Seagram.  I could understand why he won when you see what it takes to be a good pole thMMBWWFM1vaulter.  The program ran for almost twenty years and even spun off a British and European version. I believe the show should be revived and have a worldwide drawing to find a unique athlete.

Even though the Superstars were finding good cross functional athletes that had a multitude of skills, they were still limited. There is where the argument usually ends as far as the litmus test, best skilled athlete versus the best overall athlete which is more based on the core athletic abilities.  I personally am intrigued by the three multi events in the Olympics which include the Woman’s Heptathlon and the Pentathlon.   The Pentathlon combines shooting, fencing, equestrian, swimming and cross country running.  These types of events demand not only great physical training but also keen mental focus.

So at the end of the Olympics you will see some athletes win a handful of medals but the Decathlon, Pentathlon and Heptathlon don’t engage in this type of competition, it is one gold, one silver and one bronze. These events are done in one and two days which adds the endurance factor as the great equalizer.   There will be only one overall winner and rest of the athletes will remain in obscurity but that is the life of this athlete.  They were probably the kids in school who were into everything but never just settled into one thing.   Their skill is versatility which is not always rewarded in society and the “jack of trades” moniker is sometimes scoffed at.  I think it is highest skill a person can possess that can adapt to anything thrown their way.  Salute to the decathletes, heptathletes and the pentathletes.

The winner of this years Men’s decathlon is Ashton Eaton, who tied the Olympic Decathlon scoring record and also won his second Olympic title.   Eaton joins a list of great American decathletes in Olympic history.  The past American winners are:  Jim Thorpe, Harold Osborn, Jim Bausch, Glenn Morris, Bob Mathias, Milt Campbell, Rafer Johnson, Bill Toomey, Bruce Jenner, Dan O’Brien, Bryan Clay and Ashton Eaton.

American Heptathlon Winners: Jackie Joyner-Kersee






The Olympics, the US Team, and Kazakhstan

This Olympics seems a little different to me.   Maybe it’s just because a four year span creates a whole new storyline that seems fresh.   What I have seen so far is the dominance of swimming and gymnastics by the American teams which seems unparalleled.    The usual competition from the Russians and the Chinese is not very strong which doesn’t diminish their efforts but it shows just how powerful the US squads are performing.   Certainly the men’s basketball teams will conquer the world and track and field will have its share of medalist, but we might win kayaking too.   We never win kayaking for crying out loud. I have been watching the Olympics since 1972 and have never seen the USA have so many great athletes all at once.   Read More →

On the Cusp of the Summer Olympics

mckayxThe Summer Olympics will be arriving soon into our living rooms projecting onto our big screen TV’s from the shores of Rio.   I admit,  I have heard more about the Zika virus, body parts floating onto the beach and Russian steroid abusers than about the events and the athletes.   Brazil has got their hands full this year and hopefully those folks can pull it off.  We all want to see great athletic endeavors along with Brazil’s reputation for partying and frivolity more than bug bites and potential terrorist sadsacks trying to impose their will.

The two week spectacle has always had a special place in my heart since the years that Jim McKay was the MC for ABC Sports.   If were not for the great broadcasting by the Wide World Sports and ABC team, I would of not even watch the Olympics.   I was hooked when I watched my first Olympics in 1972, the Olympics that featured Mark Spitz and a hostage crisis.  I was very young and impressionable and inspired by the heroics of the athletes but at the same type baffled by the hostage crisis.  The ABC broadcast team handled the situation will great concern and compassion as the nation was glued to the TV to watch the compelling events unfold.

Most of the sporting events we know nothing about so we count on the Olympics to inform and educate us. Who on earth knows anything about Greco Roman Wrestling?  Unfortunately we will not see most of these obscure events because we will get bombarded with swimming and gymnastics.   I, for instance,  enjoy the track and field portion because it is the most diversified of all of the sports.  Track and Field offers a wide variety of events that will showcase athletes from a multitude of countries that actually have a chance of winning. In particular,  I can’t get enough of pole vaulting and high jumping.   In addition, the 100 meter and 200 meter races are about as time honored as it gets and Usain Bolt will be competing and running again like lightning.

It is easy for all of us to feel cynical about the Olympics as a commercialized event full of cheating, smaltzy glamorization of athletes who get paid for their participation. Certainty it feels that way sometimes and it makes us long for the day when Bruce Jenner was on a Wheaties box and not People magazine.   On the contrary, I am glad we still have the Olympics as one of the few real global events that brings the world together as one for a fleeting moment.    The terrorist and the haters may not like the big spectacle it but maybe they could find some joy in a little race or a weightlifting event.  Better yet, maybe they can be inspired to see how far they can push themselves to excel in the world of sports which is the truth and essence of the Olympic spirit.

Usain-Bolt2Photo – Sports.inquirer.net

Photo – Pinterest

Photo – Usatoday30.usatoday.com