Thoughts on the Tokyo Olympics
Way back when – meaning the middle decades of the 20th century – ABC’s Wide World of Sports was the paradigm of sports programming the weekly lead into every show was,” …spanning the globe to bring you the constant variety of sport, the human drama of athletic competition…”.
If ever there was a more applicable phrase to characterize the 32nd Olympiad I certainly can’t think of one. The jubilation of winning, the devastation of losing, and the suffering in the endeavor, define the phrase “human drama of athletic competition” This Olympics provided some of the most compelling moments ever.
Though I admit to dozens of moments of totally identifying with the success or disappointment of the Olympians as they performed; the first part of ABC’s lead in impacted me more and more as the games unfolded. Indeed, sport HAS spanned the globe. AND, the variety of the more obscure (at least to me) and new sports included was fascinating. A few examples here: under “obscure” how about women’s wrestling and weightlifting and under new, surfing and skateboarding, BMX, and mixed triathlon.
The 4×100 Italian relay team out of – seemingly – nowhere beats the U.S., Great Britain AND Jamaica showing the sharing of wealth further afield than those traditionally dominant nations. When the Japanese women’s basketball team plays in the gold medal round and plays brilliant creative ball it is certain basketball has “spanned the globe”. When nations like the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas, Norway, and Botswana to name a few field highly competitive athletes in track and field the global impact of sport is undeniable. The sum of this global variety has de-emphasized at least to a small extent, the extreme emphasis on national teams and “power” nations.
When the impact of women athletes on the full spectrum of the competitions is woven into the variety of the sports contested and the multiplicity of nations successfully competing, the excitement and drama increased exponentially. All I have to do is list what immediately comes to mind and which involves women from the U.S. Olympic team to provide an idea of what how women made this Olympics exceptional. My short list:
400M hurdles: Sydney McLaughlin & Dalilah Muhammed
Marathon: 3rd place Molly Seidel
11 Olympic medals : Allyson Felix (Gold and Bronze)
Gymnastics: Simone Biles (all world quality and courage), Suni Lee all-round Gold
Basketball: Gold Medalists and the 7th Olympics of Gold and no defeats
Wrestling: Gold, Tamyra Mensah-Stock
Swimming: Gold and Silver, Katie Ledecky
As with all Olympic Games it was a unique two weeks. Superb performances with high emotion, wide variety, and a depth and breadth of athletes from throughout the world.