Do you know how I know summer is here? It did not take the clever picture of a smiley-faced sun on my calendar. Yes, the calendar serves as an official reminder but there are other ways.
Take our television lineup on Saturday. I caught myself flipping through several lackluster sporting events. The PGA's first event sans Tiger, the Travelers Championship took on a non-competitive tilt between the Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals. Oh joy.
Then something strange happened. A phenomenon that can only be described as twilight-zonish. My TV jumped to NBC for, gulp, the U.S. Olympic Trials for (my reputation is about to take a hit, I can feel it) men's gymnastics.
At first I thought about returning my plasma. Must be broke. Then I realized that the dearth of quality programming in the summer was going to be catastrophic to my laziness.
Suddenly cutting the grass seemed like a treat. Have you seen the commercials for Celebrity Family Feud? Do you realize there is a show on called Celebrity Circus? Exactly.
My brain wandered ahead to Beijing. It's weird. I remember being a kid watching the Olympics in Los Angeles. My memory is still relatively fresh from the winter games in Torino. Why is it these summer games seem to be heading down an awkward path?
...Since you asked. First, the media keeps reminding us about the potential problems with pollution.
What is worse? A marathon's backdrop featuring smog or runners collapsing in fumes? A race to the finish line or a race to emphysema?
Second, the human rights stories. Can't you see athletes being placed on lockdown for a day? Our evening news will show Brian Williams standing outside a heavily guarded hotel covering a horrific story about rioters, errr, peace activists. Worse yet, what if an athlete wins gold and proceeds to use his or her 15 minutes of fame to denounce the Chinese government. Yikes.
You know the real reason I can't get excited for these Olympics? Steroids. Try watching any event without wondering - scratch that - knowing there are competitors cheating.
What's the point? I guess I'll try to get into the basketball games. Let's hope we manage to not embarrass ourselves on the court again.
So I'm watching parts of the women's gymnastics Olympic trials later Saturday night (before The Ultimate Fighter begins). The scores look strange. It's like a French judge is scoring a Russian competitor. Scores soar past the 10-point mark.
I refuse to look up the new scoring system. I have limits. My question is: why change the system? Was gymnastics scoring a hot topic of debate? How did I miss this? Maybe I need to hit up Shannon Miller for some pointers. Bart Conner, Nadia? Help!
Back to the men. Much to my surprise, the Oklahoma Sooners men's gymnastics team won the NCAA title. Who knew?
Jonathan Horton led the way. Horton will represent the U.S.A. in Beijing this summer after winning the all-around scoring title this past weekend.
How awesome is it to be an Olympic athlete? Even if it's men's gymnastics. How can you not root for this guy? The truth of the matter? He is the reason I tuned in on Saturday. I recently heard about him and his chances to represent our country.
He didn't disappoint. "I have worked my whole life for this and I am so excited right now," said Horton on soonersports.com. "I was just having fun, loving the sport and doing what I can do.
"I have had some struggles this year but I got back in the gym and worked hard and told myself I would make this team. I am more confident and comfortable with my gymnastics right now than any other time in my life."
You know what else was fun on Saturday? Trying to figure out what Bela Karolyi was saying. Is it too much to ask NBC for subtitles? You can do it!
"I was extremely proud of his performance today and I am just thrilled that he has fulfilled a life-long dream," said OU head coach Mark Williams on soonersports.com. He has been training Jonathan.
"He won the Olympic Trials against a very competitive field, so that says a lot about how special of an athlete that he is. It's been an amazing journey with Jonathan, an athlete that has helped our program win three national championships, and I know he will represent the United States with pride in the Summer Olympics."
Will you and I watch the summer Olympics this year? I guess. Of course none of the events will be live unless you are a night owl. The looming issues involving steroids, pollution and politics might be enough to pique my interest.
If the games suck, then I'll flip channels and find a LPGA event. Or cut the grass.
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