Monday, July 30, 2012

I’m Glad…

When Chicago lost its bid to host the 2016 Summer Olympics to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, I was glad. Very glad. The news was announced by Jacques Rogge, President of the International Olympic Committee, at a meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark on October 2, 2009.

At first it was because of Chicago’s proximity to Kenosha that I was glad they didn’t receive the bid. If Chicago had gotten the 2016 Olympics, it would have most certainly had an impact on my hometown and its inhabitants. While there would have been some positive effects on Kenosha, the negative repercussions would have far outweighed them. I am quite sure of this.

After this weekend, I am glad for a whole new reason.

Chicago, or any city in America for that matter, doesn’t deserve to host the Olympics. After hearing the commentary coming from Americans during the opening weekend of the Olympics, I am convinced we would not appreciate it. We would be too busy criticizing and bitching about it.

Criticizing and bitching, it’s what we Americans do best.

Why appreciate and enjoy something when we can find fault and cast aspersions on it? It’s much more our style to disparage than it is to admire. We Americans do it on every level, every chance we get.

But it’s not like that everywhere. Definitely not in Great Britain. Having nearly twenty facebook friends in England, I have been made keenly aware of how much they are appreciating the Olympics being held in their country.

It almost makes me envious.

It started Friday afternoon when I had the privilege of getting a sneak preview of the Opening Ceremonies with my dear friend Bev Cooper via Skype. I heard about Mary Poppins, Mr. Bean and the Queen’s remarkable parachute jump well before most of my American friends did. I was even able to post on facebook the scoop about Sir Paul McCartney several hours before NBC aired his closing performance.

While chatting with Bev, comments started popping up on facebook. Her sister, Margaret Martin wrote, “This is fantastic!” When Bev commented, “Nice outfit, Queenie”, her niece, Sarah Crabb quickly replied, “She looks amazing, bless her.” There were also several “Wows!”

My favorite facebook comment came from Bev’s brother, David Taylor. At the completion of the event, he simply wrote, “That done us proud.”

What kind of observations do you think were being made in America? A reported 42 million viewers saw the event Friday night.

Well, of course the first ones I heard were political. Former Massachusetts Governor, Mitt Romney made sure of that when he said the Olympics would be a failure. His blunder was compounded because he made it while on a visit to London.

Predictably, this set off a barrage of back-and-forth rants between both sides of the political fence. The Liberals excoriated Romney and wanted him crucified, while the Conservatives thought he was spot on and should be canonized.

Fortunately, the Republican Presidential candidate sought to repair his damaged reputation the next day with a series of interviews where he praised the host country and went so far as to call the weather in the UK “great”.

Meanwhile, while we Americans were making the Olympics political, my friends ‘cross the pond were elated because cyclist Lizzie Armistead had won the host nation’s first medal by taking silver in the women’s road race.

The British were ecstatic about a second-place finish and the Americans were squabbling about a politicians unfortunate remarks.

On Saturday evening, the criticizing and bitching continued on facebook. Dan McNeil, WSCR talk show host, posted the following:

 “I love Paul McCartney, but they dropped the ball at the Opening Ceremonies. ALL British Invasion stars should have been there. Jagger. Richards. Daltrey. Townshend. I could keep going. They all should have been there.”

Expectedly, the responses were moronic. Iron Maiden should have been there. Judas Priest. Sabbath. The Kinks. Cream. Even UFO was mentioned. You get the picture; nothing is ever good enough for us. We Americans always know how to do it better. We are never satisfied. It’s so hard for us to quietly enjoy anything.

On Sunday, while my British friends were busy cheering each and every event, I ran across another post. It complained that the Opening Ceremony included a memorial to the victims of the 7/7 attacks, but failed to do the same for those victimized by the Palestinian terrorists at the 1972 Munich games.

Maybe it would have ruffled less feathers had the hosts modestly lit the flame and went directly to the parade of nations. I heard this suggested a minimum of three times this morning. Honest.

All of this criticizing and bitching made me wonder what it would be like in 2016 if Chicago had won the bid for the Summer Olympics. Would we be as enthusiastic and gracious as our British counterparts? We shall never know, but I seriously doubt it.

Don’t get me wrong; I heard a small amount of concern about the length of the Opening Ceremonies. Of course, there is also considerable discussion on how the Olympics has interfered with their daily commutes. But mostly, my friends from Great Britain are passionately supporting their British athletes and enjoying the 2012 Summer Olympics.

And they aren’t criticizing and bitching. And I’m glad.

Until next time…from the booth.

4 comments:

Leplume said...

Okay, I'm gonna weigh in here with some explanation. Let me start by saying that I watched the Opening Ceremony and I wasn't impressed BUT it was not because I thought the Brits got it wrong! No! I think they did some amazing things in that ceremony but do you know that we Americans were at the mercy of NBC and what we saw on Friday night was a seriously truncated, edited version? Apparently there was a lovely choreographed number that was solemn and meant to be in memoriam for those who could not be at the games. NBC chose not to show it. Instead, we got an interview with Michael Phelps. Yup. Also, NBC's placement of cameras on and in the arena was flawed too. During the entire dream/children/NHS section all we were shown was a handful of kids jumping on the bed and some nurses repeatedly dancing. When the puppetry started it was difficult to see what the heck they were even supposed to be! And the commentary by Matt Lauer and whatsername was pathetic. I don't think for one minute what we actually saw on TV did any sort of justice to the spectacular show the Brits put on. I think NBC did a piss poor job of showing it off and, unfortunately, people don't understand that so they are thinking that what we saw was all there was. Too bad that. Because I'm sure the actual show was something to see.

Paul E. Vagnoni said...

You are spot on, MB! Like I said in the blog, I was chatting with my friend on Skype while it was happening live and she said there were no commercials. NBC most certainly did a substandard job in their broadcast…

Sue said...

Oh Paul, you sure know how to write! Another well written, true blog. Brought tears to my eyes. Yes us Brits are extremely proud and even if we don't win it is the pride in taking part at the Olympics that shines through. I am sure there are lots of people who did not understand all of the opening ceremony - after all they do not teach about the Industrial Revolution etc in schools now. It is just a shame that not all TV networks can 'get it right' with their broadcasts - adverts mean more money for them after all.

Paul E. Vagnoni said...

Thank you so much, Sue, that means a lot to me. I always look forward to your insightful critiques! Survivor starts September 19th…