Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Blurb: Hype Springs Eternal

Welcome to the Blurb: 2012 Olympics edition! Almost every day that the Olympics are happening, I will be posting my opinions and excitement and disappointment in all the major Olympic stories!

Are you sick of the Olympics yet? I know - they haven't even started, and it seems like that's all we've been hearing about for a few weeks now. But that is how it usually is around this time. The organizers have to get people interested in watching the games, and so they pick a few athletes and push them out into the spotlight...even before they compete! This usually ends up in two ways: the athletes live up to expectations and get all the endorsement deals, or they fail to medal and gradually fade into the background.

Heck, there were a few athletes that were being shown in commercials that didn't make it out of the Olympic trials, let along the Games themselves: Brian Clay, the reigning gold medalist in the decathlon, failed to compete for London. He was in commercials for both NBC's Olympic coverage and for BP. Nastia Liukin was the reigning all-around gold medalist in women's gymnastics, and her uneven bar routine in the trials was embarassing. Shawn Johnson, also a gymnast who won gold in Beijing, pulled out because of injury. Natalie Coughlin, a multiple-medal swimmer, barely made the Olympic team this year. And 2004 400-meter gold medalist Jeremy Wariner couldn't get out of the pack this year in Oregon and finished sixth.

Hyped reigning medalists. Not even appearing in London.

So who is being hyped? Let me count the athletes: Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte (both of whom can't be mentioned without mentioning the other, because of the huge "rivalry" that the media has created), Jordyn Wieber, Gabby Douglas, Danell Leyva, Hope Solo (who I can't stand for multiple reasons - I may have time to expound on that in a later post), Ashton Eaton, Usain Bolt, Queen Underwood, Lolo Jones, Sanya Richards-Ross, Allyson Felix, Tyson Gay, the Williams sisters, the entire USA men's basketball team (hyped especially by ESPN), Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh, Steven and Diana Lopez, and - hey, have you heard about this 17-year old named Missy Franklin? Of course you have! She may win seven. gold. medals!

Will she win seven gold medals? Of course not. Will any of these athletes? Yes! But not all of them. I dare you: look at this article after the Olympics have wrapped (you'll be in withdrawl, like me; I guarantee it) and you'll think to yourself about one of those athletes: "Man, he/she didn't do anything in these games!"

I can think of one perfect example to prove my point: Lolo Jones. The night of the women's 100m hurdle finals, all I could hear was "LoloLoloLoloLoloLoloLoloLoloLolo etc." They highlighted no one else. It was Lolo's race to lose. They got in the blocks, the gun went off, she cleared eight hurdles, and then...tripped and stumbled into the finish. Who won? Dawn Harper, a Team USA athlete that NBC NEVER TALKED ABOUT. She was from the US! No one thought she'd win, so NBC never mentioned her more than her introduction.

That's usually why I pick out the American athlete that hasn't been profiled in every Olympic reel and root for them - the only exception being Michael Phelps. For the most part that lowlighted athlete doesn't fare well, but occasionally they emerge as a gem.

Sick of the hype? Don't worry - the real deal starts tomorrow.