>Western Tribune Column August 27, 2008

>Not only have the Olympics in Beijing resulted in greater interest in swimming, but my visit to a local restaurant last week tells me there is a renewed interest in Chinese buffets, as well. The place was packed.

As the second week of the Olympics progressed interest mounted in team sports such as volleyball and softball as well as track and field. Usain Bolt’s terrific world record times in the 100 and 200 meter events and the U. S. sweep of the 400 meter hurdles along with the relays will have those kids not interested in swimming ready to hit the track.

That may be a little optimistic, but it would be nice. Bessemer does produce athletes, no doubt. The success of programs at Jess Lanier and Bessemer Academy is evidence of that. And greater interest in running track will lead to faster backs and ends on the football field.

Last week I mentioned that Bessemer needs a pool and that families can not afford to join the local YMCA. However, I did not consider the policies of the organization in making my statement. The YMCA is a community organization that exists specifically to provide services like aquatics and gymnastics to everyone, even those who cannot afford it.

In Bessemer, the swim team program at the Y was re-instituted last year, just in time for this year’s increased demand.

But as the Olympics end, the real race begins. The headlines shift from sports to politics, and Barack Obama’s selection of Joe Biden as his running mate begins a week of interest in the Democratic ticket.

This week Barack Obama gives his acceptance speech on the anniversary of Martin Luther King’s inspiring “I have a Dream” speech. As many people in this country may watch the speech as saw the opening ceremonies from Beijing, because, repeating myself, this is a moment for history.

With Biden on the ticket Obama’s appeal is increased, especially among working class voters and women. And let’s see, between them it is two men, two houses. We will be waiting to see who John McCain picks as his running mate.

Any bets on the total number of houses the two Republicans will own?

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