Watching the Olympics

OK, I find myself watching the Olympics, though I hadn’t really planned to. It gets absorbing. On the opening ceremony, of course it was spectacular. It was also a model of totalitarian, collectivist art. Notice how individuals were subsumed into vast patterns of mass identity.

And are those Chinese women gymnasts really 16, as the rules require? Some of them look more like 11 or younger. Contrast them with the teenagers on the American team. Little girls can do things with their bodies that post-pubescent teenagers cannot or can do with only extreme difficulty. Lots of questions are being asked about this, but I suspect no one will formally accuse the Chinese of cheating.

Any other thoughts, observations, or dramas that you picked up on?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Susan aka organshoes

    I’ve always thought opening ceremonies were nothing but ‘individuals…subsumed into vast patterns of mass identity.’ Even when not held in communist countries.
    Like a marching band stepping into the shape of a guitar. Or a jar of mayonaise. (Anybody?)
    Kinda funny aside, though. We were altogether Friday nite–a mini-family reunion at my house–but, instead of watching the opening ceremonies, we gathered around the computer screen to show my son and granddaughter clips from old TV shows–Louis the trained dog, the Muppet Show with Harry Belafonte, etc.–giving them a taste of what families once enjoyed–together! all in the same room, at the same TV set!–not so long ago.
    What will families enjoy together once the Olympic games are over? Desperate Housewives?

  • Susan aka organshoes

    I’ve always thought opening ceremonies were nothing but ‘individuals…subsumed into vast patterns of mass identity.’ Even when not held in communist countries.
    Like a marching band stepping into the shape of a guitar. Or a jar of mayonaise. (Anybody?)
    Kinda funny aside, though. We were altogether Friday nite–a mini-family reunion at my house–but, instead of watching the opening ceremonies, we gathered around the computer screen to show my son and granddaughter clips from old TV shows–Louis the trained dog, the Muppet Show with Harry Belafonte, etc.–giving them a taste of what families once enjoyed–together! all in the same room, at the same TV set!–not so long ago.
    What will families enjoy together once the Olympic games are over? Desperate Housewives?

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    It was great to watch the Americans smash the Frenchies last night in the relay.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    It was great to watch the Americans smash the Frenchies last night in the relay.

  • http://gpiper.org/katiesbeer Theresa K.

    Our family enjoyed the swim relay last night. My husband was actually cheering aloud, which cracked me up. My daughter and I (both former gymnasts) watched with dismay as the Americans suffered setbacks and mistakes, but still managed to do well enough to move to the next round.

  • http://gpiper.org/katiesbeer Theresa K.

    Our family enjoyed the swim relay last night. My husband was actually cheering aloud, which cracked me up. My daughter and I (both former gymnasts) watched with dismay as the Americans suffered setbacks and mistakes, but still managed to do well enough to move to the next round.

  • jim claybourn

    I’m already tired of hearing the talking heads declare that the only story is Michael Phelps. The other 3 swimmers in the record-smashing relay were almost overlooked, except for their part in assuring that they helped Phelps on his way to 8 medals. Those guys have worked just as hard, maybe harder, as Phelps and deserved their moment in the sun. The anchor leg swimmer, Lezak swam THE FASTEST 100 m leg in history, coming from behind to beat the current world record holder, but that was almost lost in the “helping Phelps” story that NBC is promoting.

    I was also impressed by the classy behavior of the team after their win, considering the trash that the French team had dished out in the papers.

  • jim claybourn

    I’m already tired of hearing the talking heads declare that the only story is Michael Phelps. The other 3 swimmers in the record-smashing relay were almost overlooked, except for their part in assuring that they helped Phelps on his way to 8 medals. Those guys have worked just as hard, maybe harder, as Phelps and deserved their moment in the sun. The anchor leg swimmer, Lezak swam THE FASTEST 100 m leg in history, coming from behind to beat the current world record holder, but that was almost lost in the “helping Phelps” story that NBC is promoting.

    I was also impressed by the classy behavior of the team after their win, considering the trash that the French team had dished out in the papers.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    watching Lezak at the end of that relay was amazing and he definitely got the media shaft last night. By the way, shouldn’t Phelps pull his britches up a little more often?

    Regarding the opening ceremonies, did anyone else catch the commentators romantic view of the performers common Chinese spirituality which, as they narrated, was helping the performers maintain the perfect spacial relationship around them in order to create a massive form of concentric circles with incredible precision. They maintained that the performers had no reference marks on the floor upon which to guide themselves, but were instead relying on some sort of inner peace that each performer had in relationship to everyone else. First of all I don’t believe the commentators know anything about the beliefs of all the participants, and secondly, as one who enjoyed marching band maneuvers back in the day, I know that it simply takes hard work to make the maneuvers work with or without reference marks on the field. After they made those comments though I was watching the actual field pretty closely and contrary to what the commentators said, I think the performers had reference marks laid down in order to make those circles. Whatever the case, I doubt the unity of spirituality in China is the reality that the media dreams it is.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    watching Lezak at the end of that relay was amazing and he definitely got the media shaft last night. By the way, shouldn’t Phelps pull his britches up a little more often?

    Regarding the opening ceremonies, did anyone else catch the commentators romantic view of the performers common Chinese spirituality which, as they narrated, was helping the performers maintain the perfect spacial relationship around them in order to create a massive form of concentric circles with incredible precision. They maintained that the performers had no reference marks on the floor upon which to guide themselves, but were instead relying on some sort of inner peace that each performer had in relationship to everyone else. First of all I don’t believe the commentators know anything about the beliefs of all the participants, and secondly, as one who enjoyed marching band maneuvers back in the day, I know that it simply takes hard work to make the maneuvers work with or without reference marks on the field. After they made those comments though I was watching the actual field pretty closely and contrary to what the commentators said, I think the performers had reference marks laid down in order to make those circles. Whatever the case, I doubt the unity of spirituality in China is the reality that the media dreams it is.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Regarding the gymnastics thing, I half wonder if some clever doctors (and NOT just in China) are working overtime to see what they can do to delay the onset of puberty for these girls without getting caught.

    A simple method is the same thing that female distance runners (10k and up) have been inadvertently doing for decades; don’t carry enough fat, and a woman’s body naturally shuts down normal menses. It was said that Norwegian distance marvel Grete Waitz had at least a 13 year period in her adult life when this did not happen, and her desire to have children may have been thwarted by this.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Regarding the gymnastics thing, I half wonder if some clever doctors (and NOT just in China) are working overtime to see what they can do to delay the onset of puberty for these girls without getting caught.

    A simple method is the same thing that female distance runners (10k and up) have been inadvertently doing for decades; don’t carry enough fat, and a woman’s body naturally shuts down normal menses. It was said that Norwegian distance marvel Grete Waitz had at least a 13 year period in her adult life when this did not happen, and her desire to have children may have been thwarted by this.

  • Don S

    I was intrigued by the 33 year old German gymnast (vaulter). She first competed for the Unified Team in 1992, I believe, and advanced with two fine vaults. If pre-pubescent bodies can perform more flexibly than 16 year old bodies, how about a post-maternal body? Truly amazing!

  • Don S

    I was intrigued by the 33 year old German gymnast (vaulter). She first competed for the Unified Team in 1992, I believe, and advanced with two fine vaults. If pre-pubescent bodies can perform more flexibly than 16 year old bodies, how about a post-maternal body? Truly amazing!

  • http://gpiper.org/katiesbeer Theresa K.

    Don S., I loved that story of the 33 year old vaulter! They also showed footage of her on the beam back in her gym. She’s still got it!

  • http://gpiper.org/katiesbeer Theresa K.

    Don S., I loved that story of the 33 year old vaulter! They also showed footage of her on the beam back in her gym. She’s still got it!

  • http://maplemountain.blogspot.com/ s.d. smith

    I loved the pride-before fall of the French. My daughter, 5 years old, woke up after a nightnmare, and so I had her with me watching the race. She smiled ear to ear and high-fived after the dramatic win. I think I witnessed the birth of an Amerian patriot and a sports fan.

    I had explained what the French swimmer had said about smashing the US and she frowned, “That’s ugly.”

    When the flag was being raised to the anthem, she remarked, “I wonder what the French team is thinking?”

  • http://maplemountain.blogspot.com/ s.d. smith

    I loved the pride-before fall of the French. My daughter, 5 years old, woke up after a nightnmare, and so I had her with me watching the race. She smiled ear to ear and high-fived after the dramatic win. I think I witnessed the birth of an Amerian patriot and a sports fan.

    I had explained what the French swimmer had said about smashing the US and she frowned, “That’s ugly.”

    When the flag was being raised to the anthem, she remarked, “I wonder what the French team is thinking?”

  • The Jones

    I have decided that I do not appreciate the Olympics as a sports event. I gain unmatched joy from watching the U.S.A. beat the ever living daylights out of other countries through the medium of sports. My interest in sports wanes, but the love of country inspires interests I never held before. I am now a swimming fanatic, a fencing aficionado, a gymnastics critic and commentator, a beach volleyball analyst, and a militant track and field extremist. Outside the Olympics… …these things don’t really have much appeal.

    Visa has these commercials celebrating the Olympic games, with good music and inspiring montages, that conclude with “Go World.” But I don’t want to say “Go World.” I want to say “Go ‘Merica! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!” Sometimes, when there’s no America to cheer for, I choose the most cooperative nation on America’s foreign policy radar and pull for the Ally. That’s what I found myself doing in the Great Britain vs. Pakistan Field Hockey match. Although field hockey looks like the dumbest sport on earth, this was an opportunity to take out my frustration of the sinister motives of the Pakistani ISI. No rooting before reform!

    This is nationalism at its best.

  • The Jones

    I have decided that I do not appreciate the Olympics as a sports event. I gain unmatched joy from watching the U.S.A. beat the ever living daylights out of other countries through the medium of sports. My interest in sports wanes, but the love of country inspires interests I never held before. I am now a swimming fanatic, a fencing aficionado, a gymnastics critic and commentator, a beach volleyball analyst, and a militant track and field extremist. Outside the Olympics… …these things don’t really have much appeal.

    Visa has these commercials celebrating the Olympic games, with good music and inspiring montages, that conclude with “Go World.” But I don’t want to say “Go World.” I want to say “Go ‘Merica! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!” Sometimes, when there’s no America to cheer for, I choose the most cooperative nation on America’s foreign policy radar and pull for the Ally. That’s what I found myself doing in the Great Britain vs. Pakistan Field Hockey match. Although field hockey looks like the dumbest sport on earth, this was an opportunity to take out my frustration of the sinister motives of the Pakistani ISI. No rooting before reform!

    This is nationalism at its best.

  • Edward Hill

    Has anyone been following the reports on the “fake” opening ceremonies?

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/othersports/olympics/2545387/Beijing-Olympics-Faking-scandal-over-girl-who-sang-in-opening-ceremony.html

    While the world was initially wowed by the performance, closer scrutiny has forced the government to admit that some of it was a sham. The latest news is that the little girl who sang their national anthem was actually lip-syncing because the real singer “wasn’t cute enough.”

    Can you imagine if this happened in the U.S.? We would immediately be accused of being superficial and shallow, and such accusations would be justified. When China does it however, it’s about “national interest,” and “image.”

    Lip-syncing a song may be a trifle in the grand scheme of things, but it is just further proof of the relativistic reasoning an oppressive regime will use to paint its every action in a positive light. I’m sure underage athletes are in China’s “national interest” as well. I think you’re right however; no one will dare raise the question.

  • Edward Hill

    Has anyone been following the reports on the “fake” opening ceremonies?

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/othersports/olympics/2545387/Beijing-Olympics-Faking-scandal-over-girl-who-sang-in-opening-ceremony.html

    While the world was initially wowed by the performance, closer scrutiny has forced the government to admit that some of it was a sham. The latest news is that the little girl who sang their national anthem was actually lip-syncing because the real singer “wasn’t cute enough.”

    Can you imagine if this happened in the U.S.? We would immediately be accused of being superficial and shallow, and such accusations would be justified. When China does it however, it’s about “national interest,” and “image.”

    Lip-syncing a song may be a trifle in the grand scheme of things, but it is just further proof of the relativistic reasoning an oppressive regime will use to paint its every action in a positive light. I’m sure underage athletes are in China’s “national interest” as well. I think you’re right however; no one will dare raise the question.

  • Anon

    The Chicom gymnasts appear roughly 9 to maybe 11, though I wouldn’t put it past them to afflict them hormonally to keep them still in baby fat for the Olympics at 16.

    The Olympics were in my opinion badly damaged when the requirement of amateur status was removed. Now that money is involved, you have things like the paid-off French judge from last time around. At least the athletics are more real than those of commercial TV sports.

  • Anon

    The Chicom gymnasts appear roughly 9 to maybe 11, though I wouldn’t put it past them to afflict them hormonally to keep them still in baby fat for the Olympics at 16.

    The Olympics were in my opinion badly damaged when the requirement of amateur status was removed. Now that money is involved, you have things like the paid-off French judge from last time around. At least the athletics are more real than those of commercial TV sports.


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