Archive for the ‘Olympics’ Category

>Timing

February 19, 2010

>Tiger Woods is speaking to a hand full of hand picked reporters now. He chooses the middle of the Olympics to bring back up an episode that we had been able to forget.

Good timing or bad timing?

A young person close to me was listening as Tiger was talking about being a role model for young people out of concern that his infidelity would drive young people away from golf. But this person said that he might have just made a boring sport more interesting to many young people, and the sport might grow rapidly.

The deal to use stimulus money to build the Norfolk Southern intermodal hub in McCalla is being announced today or soon. Cynics say its just a ploy to prop up the stimulus (for which there is tons of evidence if they would just take the time to look).

Good timing or bad timing for the announcement?

Actions speak louder than words, as the republicans say, regarding the stimulus.

Speaking of the stimulus and the economy you have probably seen this graph, but if you are a republican you may have ignored it. Its a chart of job losses during the Bush and Obama years.


Notice the trend. So jobs were trending “loss” during the previous administration, and are trending “gain” during the current administration.

Republicans either ignore the truth, bend the truth, or make up the truth to promote their “Waterloo” agenda. Decent Americans respect the truth.

Olympic Update

Not really, just a couple of photos.

Johnny Weir may have been robbed a little in scoring, but he has a style unlike any other male figure skater.

I made a comment last night that maybe he was just a little too flamboyant for the judges and the same young person reminded me that this was male figure skating. Enough said. But congratulations to Evan, gold medal winner! And Johnny, we love you!!!

This is for those of you who said curling offers nothing, including no good lookers.

Canadian curler John Morris

There is some concern among readers both in the comments and in person that I will not be able to live up to my Lenten promise. Here is part of my strategy.

During the Olympics I am not watching Keith or Rachel or Bill O or Glenn or listening to Rush. I get my news from the newspaper and from the news shows, mainly channel 13 for local and NBC for national. So I miss a lot of the worthless chatter (of which I realize I am a part) that most people don’t hear anyway.

When the Olympics are over I’m not sure what I will do. Maybe keep watching regular news and turn the TV off and read like they did in the 1940’s or watch more “Cougar Town” and “Modern Family ” and “Amazing Race.”

It’s all part of the new and improved Joe.

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>39 days

February 18, 2010

>Lent has begun, and I have decided to give up…

We’ve already been eating healthier and exercising, giving up the slovenly lifestyle. But that happened a while back. Heck, it wasn’t even a New Year’s resolution, it began around Halloween.
I wanted to give up laundry, but it’s just been one day and there are three loads waiting already.

No, it’s going to be abstinence, of a sort. I am going to abstain from snarky criticism of political figures.

Now that doesn’t mean I will not be reporting on and setting things straight on issues.

But no Sarah Palin, Bob Riley, Jeff Sessions, Michael Steel, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck criticism by me.

My son and my partner say I can’t do it.

39 days. I’m counting.

These first couple of weeks will be easy. I’m avoiding lots of issues while I watch and focus on the Olympics. How ’bout that run by Lindsey Vonn as she won the women’s downhill by .56 seconds.


Here’s a recap video of the day’s medals for the US and others.

Men’s figure skating long program tonight. Maybe Johnny won’t get robbed like the other night.

I’m almost as excited as Buck (What the Buck) reporting on the Olympics, I try to watch every minute. Well, not as much caffiene here, but even curling, love it!

>Western Tribune column February 17 2010 Olympics

February 17, 2010

>My column focuses on the Olympics.

What could be more fitting than a day of snow prior to watching the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics? Never mind that snow was lacking in Vancouver, British Columbia, the host city.

Those watching the event quickly learned that a Georgian athlete, luger Nodar Kumaritashvili, had been killed in a training accident earlier in the day. The ceremonies were dedicated to the young man and the festivities went on. The Olympic and Canadian flags were lowered to half staff.

Nodar Kumaritashvili Photo AP via Huffington Post

Some sports writers have said that the opening ceremonies should have been canceled or delayed or that luge events be canceled.

As one who has watched both winter and summer Olympics since 1964 I look at the games as the pinnacle of sporting events and as tragic as the death of a competitor is, the games must go on.

Although we don’t like to admit it, all sporting activities involve some degree of risk, including death. In Olympic history, death is nothing new.

Just prior to the 1964 games the deaths of a British luger and an Austrian alpine skier occurred prior to the opening ceremonies. Several other deaths have occurred in both winter and summer games. The games go on.

If one looks back to the ancient Olympics in Greece, death was sometimes a part of the competition in the sport of boxing, and possibly in other sports. In those games if a competitor died he was immediately declared the winner.

While competition and rivalry rightly exist in Olympic competition, a spirit of diversity, acceptance, and cooperation is one of the things most appreciated about the games. For two weeks during Olympic summers and two weeks during Olympic winters we can forget about politics, wars, and skirmishes, even though those things certainly are going on and even affecting the games.

Uncertainty is another factor in sports, and this is not the first time that a lack of snow in the host city has been a concern. In fact, for those same 1964 Olympics in Innsbruck, the Austrian army brought in ice for the bobsled and luge runs and snow for the alpine events.

Let’s remember Nodar Kumaritashvili as an athlete who died doing what he loved to do, but let’s not let this or unpredictable weather hinder our enjoyment of sport.

“Shine in the momentum of noble contests,” the Olympic Hymn commands.

Shine, indeed, Vancouver and every athlete.

Update:

Medalists in men’s singles were Felix Loch (Gold), David Moller (Silver), and Armin Zöggeler (Bronze)

Gold medalist Felix Loch

Here’s Moller completing his run.

Armin Zöggeler preparing for a previous run.

Here are the three medalists.

>Olympic Spirit

October 6, 2009

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Anyone that follows me knows how much I appreciate the Olympics, and not just for the good looking athletes, although that helps. One would think that everyone would appreciate the Olympic spirit and would root for the United States to bring the games here.

Giddy Rush Limbaugh practically had an orgasm when the United States was eliminated, and other Republicans could hardly contain themselves as well. Both can be seen in this video.

Meanwhile, wingnut “ex-gay” pretender James Hartline says that Chicago lost the games because of “Chicago’s demonic gay agenda.”

That’s funny, because Rio, where the 2016 Olympics will be held, has one of the largest gay pride events in the world.


They have a huge parade with plenty of dancing boys.

The southern state of Rio Grande do Sul recognizes same-sex relationships with civil unions and their president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is gay friendly and is pushing for a national partnership law. Here you can read about Brazil and other Latin America countries and their status on equality.

It is unpatriotic to cheer against the United States. Oh, but Republicans don’t care about the United States. They only care about teabagging the president and watching the country fail, and keeping the uninsured that way and oh, yeah, boosting the profits of insurance companies.

>When Gold and Gay Go Together

August 24, 2008

>NBC, along with most of the rest of the media, provides glimpses of the families (Michael Phelps) of athletes, the soap opera romances (swimmers Federica Pellegrini of Italy and Laure Manaudou of France and their love triangle with Italy’s Luca Martin), love interests (Sanya Richards and her fiancee). They even focused on the lost (and found) wedding ring of Kerri Walsh.

Then along comes the biggest story in diving, where the Chinese aspired to and were expected to go 8 for 8. The divers and the press were not expecting China’s Zhoe Luxin to flub his final dive, nor Australia’s Matthew Mitcham to score perfect 10’s on his final dive to overtake the favorite and win gold in the 10 m platform.

Photo from yahoosports

While NBC announcers seemed in awe at Mitcham’s accomplishment, they completely ignored that he is the only out gay male competitor in the Olympics, they ignored his partner sitting in the stands cheering him on, and they ignored the problems Mitcham had in getting his partner to Beijing.*

Some will say it is not the story, the athletic accomplishment is the story. But because the stereotype of gay men does not involve athletics (although the fantasies of gay men might…but that is a different story), and he breaks that stereotype, it is a story. A big one.

So Matthew, even though you said (in an article in The Advocate), “I just want to be known as the Australian diver who did really well at the Olympics,” and I am sure that the people of Australia are thrilled at your capture of the gold medal, for gay people all over the world you an icon.

Why? You also said “It’s everybody else who thinks it’s special when homosexuality and elite sports go together.” You are right. We do. Thanks for providing.

Here is Matthew, his mom and his partner after the win. Watch and hear how describes the win.

Matthew’s partner Lachlan was able to travel to Beijing courtesy of a $5,000 travel grant from Johnson and Johnson’s Athlete Family Support Program. His mom got there because Sydney gay men and lesbians offered to cover her expenses, according to the Advocate article linked above.

>Gold Medal in Voodoo

August 22, 2008

>”Maybe someone has a voodoo doll of me.”

Photo David J. Phillips Associated Press via MSNBC

That is what Lauryn Williams, the anchor leg of the women’s 4 x 100 relay, who could not hold on to the baton pass from Torri Edwards, said. The yellow baton is about to hit the ground, behind both runners. The same thing happened four years ago in Athens, when Marion Jones and Williams couldn’t make the exchange. Of course, we are trying to forget Marion Jones anyway, since her performances were enhanced by steroid use…and any medal that the relay team might have won in Athens would have been revoked anyway.

You would think the women would have been especially careful, since the same thing had just happened to Darvis Patton and Tyson Gay on the last hand off of their relay. You would think they were passing off a stick of dynamite or playing a game of hot potato.

Photo from Outsports

No doubt Tyson Gay is one of the top sprinters in the world, but he is also the biggest disappointment for the U. S. Track team, having not even completed a final in any event, much less winning a medal.

Well if the relays are a metaphor for life, we’ve all fumbled the baton on the final pass at one point or another. But gee whiz. These guys are supposed to be larger than life.

Anyway, Anthony Lane of the New Yorker reveals that the balance beam is the Official Olympic Human Life Metaphor in his article on the first week of the games, writing about Olympic shortcomings. (Great read, very entertaining, though long*).

The same thing happened with artistic gymnastics on the opening weekend, during the team qualifying rounds; as the Americans flipped and twisted on the central floor (whose surprising bounciness is apparent only when viewed from above), there was an empathetic moan to my left. One of the Italian girls, Francesca Benolli, was up on the balance beam, better known as the Official Olympic Human Life Metaphor. She was standing sideways on it, having a wobble. For a few seconds, she was no longer one of the master race from the Olympic Village, spotless in a silver leotard; she was all of us, gloved and scarved, flapping dumbly on our front paths on an icy morning.

Well. if we must be Francesca Benolli, or Tyson Gay when they flub up, then we can also be beach boys Todd Rogers or Phill Dalhausser, who celebrated after eating the team from Brazil up in the third set to take the gold yesterday in beach volleyball. Photo from Toddjrogers.com

Or fellow Americans Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor who won the gold for the women in straight sets.
Photo from New York Times

The Olympics are full of highs and lows. Just like life.

* Lane also explores politics and the Olympics and says “the attempt to keep politics…is as futile as trying to keep the sweat out of sex…” The article really is worth reading.

>Bits and Pieces for 1000, Alex

August 21, 2008

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Alabama Stonewall Democrats will meet tonight at 6:00 at Logan’s Roadhouse near Crestwood Blvd. Everyone is welcome, we will be discussing the Democratic platform, in particular how it relates to GLBT issues.

Newspapers across the country are printing wedding or commitment ceremony announcements for same sex couples. How do the Alabama papers measure up?

GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) has published a list of papers in every state. Of the major papers in the state, The Birmingham News will print an announcement if it is legally recognized, and has done so in the past. According to the site: The meaning of “legally recognized” varies from paper to paper, but usually means either that the couple’s union was legally recognized by some authority (i.e. obtained marriage license in Canada, Massachusetts, California or Spain, or obtained domestic partnership that is recognized by a state authority).

The Mobile Press Register will do so on a case by case basis, but has not printed one in the past.

Fifteen papers are included in the list. You might be surprised to learn which papers will print an announcement and under what circumstances.

MSNBC will have a new show following Countdown with Keith Olbermann, with Rachel Maddow as its host. Maddow is a Rhodes scholar with a Ph.D. in political science and according to The Advocate she may be the first openly gay woman to host a prime time show.

Olympic shot of the day has to be Usain Bolt of Jamaica, who now has world records in both 100 and 200 meter races. 19.30 in the 200!!!

And speaking of Jamaica, a year ago today I returned from that island after being pounded by Hurricane Dean. And here is how we kept in touch.

Here are some shots of Jamaica after the hurricane.

>Western Tribune Column and Olympics

August 20, 2008

>Be sure to read the post below this one about Henry Cejudo, winner of Gold.

Everyone in the world must be happy for Shawn Johnson after her performance on the balance beam. Wow. She has been a delight to watch throughout the Olympics, her ever present smile (except those rare instances when she is wondering what she could have done differently to get a gold instead of a silver).

I mention her and Nastia Liukin, along with swimmers Michael Phelps and Kirsti Coventry, in this column which was written before the four athletes had completed their events, and I am just as impressed with all of them as I thought I would be.

How about Kirsty Coventry, winning 3 silvers and a gold, representing her native Zimbabwe. Coventry is one of many swimmers who attend or attended Auburn University, and in fact, said her decision to attend Auburn was the best decision of her life. Read about the Auburn swimmers here, in the B’ham News. And here, on Auburn’s Olympian’s page. Auburn’s 2008 Olympians represent Australia, Bahamas, Croatia, Brazil, Jamaica, Hungary, Trinidad and Tobago, Zimbabwe, France and United States.

What a boost for the Auburn swimming program.

I have inserted a video about John Stephen Ahkwari, which, of course, was not in the paper.

Western Tribune Column

Since childhood I have been a huge fan of the Olympics. I remember as a teenager donating money to the U.S. Olympic team and receiving Olympic belt buckles in return.

Olympic athletes were my role models. Athletes such as Tanzania’s John Stephen Ahkwari, who, after finishing the marathon in 1968 an hour and a half behind the winner, bloodied and bandaged, explained why he kept going, saying, “You don’t understand. My country did not send me 5,000 miles to start a race; they sent me to finish it.”

And Mark Spitz, who though disappointed in his 1968 performance (two team golds, a silver and a bronze), returned to the Olympics in 1972 and won 7 gold medals.

Now we have new stars to watch. And for young people, athletes such as gymnasts Nastia Liukin and Shawn Johnson, and swimmers such as Michael Phelps and Kirsty Coventry, show what determination and perseverance can lead to.

There are news reports of how kids (and adults) are responding with increased interest in swimming and gymnastics. While this is good, and may actually do something to get kids away from the video games and allow for some physical activity, the story as reported is not complete.
Children watching in Bessemer may want to swim or tumble, but without the facilities to do such, they are left behind. While we do have a YMCA with a pool and gym most families in Bessemer cannot afford to be members. Kids might have a dream, but they have to wake up and face their own reality long before that dream is realized.

The Olympics also remind us of the differences in cultures, and none are more striking than those between the United States and the host country, China. Our society has an individualist mentality and theirs has a collective mentality. In their society, if you have talent, and are chosen, you will be set on the path to a gold medal. And you learn to accept your role because it is what is best for society.

In our country, in spite of our individualist leanings, it really does “take a village” to raise a child. But the villagers in Bessemer decided years ago to fill in the public pool here to avoid integration. Because of past racism, local kids have not had the opportunities that others might have.

It’s time for a change. It’s time for the villagers in Bessemer to find a way to provide a recreation center and swimming pool for our children.

>This Gold Will Irk the Xenophobes

August 20, 2008

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You know, those who demonize the immigrants.

Henry Cejudo won the gold medal in 121# wrestling.

Photo from Outsports Daily Dozen

Henry is of Mexican descent, born to undocumented immigrants who entered the country well before he was born in Los Angeles.

Of course Henry is a U. S. citizen. He was raised in poverty and bypassed college to concentrate on the Olympics. His mother raised 6 kids on low paying jobs, and at times the family slept 4 to a bed.

“This is cool. Coming out of a Mexican American background, it feels good to represent the U.S.,” Cejudo told the L. A. Times. “Not too many Mexicans get the chance to do that.”

“He has done an unbelievable job coming from the environment that he came from,” his coach, Terry Brands, said. “Could be in prison. Could be a drug runner. Could be this, could be that. He’s done an unbelievable job of not being a victim.”
Yet here he is, gold medal winner.
Watch his gold medal match here.
Congratulations to Henry Cejudo, the latest American Dream-maker.

>China and the Olympics

August 19, 2008

>As I watch the Olympics and see records being broken, sweeps in the hurdles and American team sports moving toward medals I try, as the athletes must, to avoid letting the policies of China spoil the games.

All in all the production is great. Credit the Chinese government for that, along with NBC sports. Even the fake “footsteps” and singing in the opening ceremonies were so overshadowed by the 2000 drummers, printing blocks and other effects that it doesn’t seem to matter.

There is an image in my mind (and on my DVR) that shows a proud young Chinese woman, carrying the sign announcing her country’s team, followed by Yao Ming and little nine year old hero Lin Hao. This is the China we are supposed to remember. The new “chairman” Yao, a tiny hero, the future, and elegant grace, proud and traditional.


But outside the Bird Nest and the Swim Cube, there is a lot going on. Or not.

The Chinese government set up three areas for protests to occur, but there are no protests going on.

There are reports of would be protesters being arrested when making application to protest.

China will learn that it can’t have it both ways. They cannot have their cake and eat it too.

Either you allow freedom of speech, or you don’t.

Either you allow freedom of expression, or you don’t.

Either you respect human rights, or you don’t.

I think the Olympics are bringing attention to the problems in China. Will the attention bring change?