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THE sporting world is being dominated these days by the Olympic Games in London.
As I write this, I am somewhere over Nova Scotia headed out to the Atlantic Ocean and on to London for a three-day stint at the 2012 Summer Olympics.
I was fortunate to be invited as a guest of NBC Sports. This was an unexpected invitation that I received in early July from Mark Lazarus and Jon Miller, the top executives at NBC Sports.
The Olympics were nowhere on my 2012 radar. This trip comes on the heels of being at the British Open Championship a couple of weeks ago.
My first inclination was to decline the generous NBC offer. But, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I accepted the invitation.
The 2012 Summer Games have been an early success for NBC, as it has racked up prime-time ratings of nearly 20 percent.
The network has come under criticism and scrutiny for some of its tape-delayed coverage. The ratings speak for themselves, and it’s obvious that Lazarus and Miller know what they are doing.
I am hoping that being here and experiencing the Olympics up close and personal will rekindle my enthusiasm for the longest standing sporting event in the world.
I have to admit, the Olympics has lost a good part of its luster with me. Decisions have been made by its hierarchy in recent years that seem to violate the true spirit of the competition.
For centuries the Olympics embodied the ultimate in amateur competition. That has all changed today, with professional athletes competing in many sports.
Recently, high-profile American politicians expressed their ire over the fact that the U.S. team would march in the Opening Ceremonies wearing Ralph Lauren clothing made outside America. As if those same politicians have nothing more pressing to worry about?
I sell clothing at my golf course, and it’s nearly impossible to find American companies who produce these goods. Our politicians have played a part in that over the years, handcuffing small business with taxes, regulations and policies that forced manufacturing to go abroad.
But I will say this. Seeing Kobe Bryant and LeBron James in their blue double-breasted blazers, white slacks and blue berets seemed out of character.
Tyler Clary, a swimmer on the U.S. team, talked about how thrilling it was to walk in the Opening Ceremonies, but his final comment to a teammate was, “Let’s go hang out with the NBA players and maybe we can get on TV.”
Call me old school, but there is something totally out of whack with that whole picture. Bryant, James and all of their NBA buddies looked like fish out of water during that march Friday night. So, suffice to say, I won’t be attending any basketball games this week in London.
I can see professional basketball all winter long in Indianapolis. I would rather see the best college basketball players compete as Olympic underdogs than watch NBA stars win the gold.
One of the developing stories in London has been the disappointing performance of Michael Phelps. The celebrated American swimmer showed up here hoping to add to his career medal total and become the most decorated athlete ever.
Some critics will point to a lack of commitment by Phelps with his training and preparation. I call it age. He has been a human marvel, and I hope to get a glimpse of him in action.
Sure, Phelps is a professionally paid athlete, too. But in his sport the pinnacle is a gold medal, not an NBA championship, a Stanley Cup or a World Series title.
Give me tennis, swimming and a little track and field this week. Sprinkle in some gymnastics, and polish it off with women’s beach volleyball.
Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings will be trying to win their third gold medals in beach volleyball. The two are now 33 years old, married and have kids.
Now that’s a story. Yep. That’s my pick.
Give me Misty May and Kerri instead of Kobe and LeBron. Did I just say that?
Ted Bishop is PGA of America vice president and director of golf and general manager for The Legends Golf Club in Franklin. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
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