I watched some of the closing ceremonies, but quickly grew tired of all of the meaningful dance routines and choreographed running and twirling. People making pictures on a field doesn't interest me when a marching band does it, and they're having to find their marks while also playing a song.
Then, like a sweaty athlete popping up in the middle of a symphony of empty, high-handed and self-serving suits, guitar hero Jimmy Page kicked into the Led Zepplin warhorse "Whole Lotta Love," with British popster Leona Lewis handling the vocals as England took up the baton in preparing for the 2012 games in London. Page was the best part, followed by the shots of the athletes mingling, shooting pictures, mugging for TV, and the peculiarly British rumpledness of London Mayor Boris Johnson, who kept wanting to put his hands in his jacket pockets.
Well, I guess the other best part was that none of it was faked.
Most of the "end of the games" stories I read made mention of the medal count, which is pretty much meaningless. But it seems most media can't write a story without someone being in the lead or falling back or charging ahead (which is why 90% of political newswriting is poll-driven dreck), so we heard that while the United States won the total medal count, China was far ahead in the gold medals. Other than the US and Soviet Union/Russia, only Nazi Germany had ever held the lead in golds before China did it, showing that sometimes history writes its own jokes.
I don't think China's 51 gold medals or the U.S.'s 37 or Australia's 14 are any more significant to anyone but the athletes who won them than any other nation's. In fact, I'd venture to say that Irving Saladino's gold medal in the long jump, which was the first ever gold medal for Panama, or Rohullah Nikpai's bronze in taekwondo, the first Olympic medal ever for Afghanistan, mattered more to those countries. Not to mention the dozens if not hundreds of athletes who had little support, little training and little chance to do anything more than show up and show their flag, but who did it anyway and came away smiling.
So we put our knowledge of sometimes wacky, sometimes obscure sports back in the box for awhile. We pack away all of the high-falutin' rhetoric the International Olympic Committee uses to try to pretend that everyone shows up just for the honor of being able to compete. We can take a break from all the yap-yap that what we're about is pure and pristine and things like money and politics never poke their dirty little noses under the tent flap.
No, wait -- it's an election year. Oh, crap.