The Olympics. Just. Not. Feelin' it.
Am I a bad American because I'm not glued to an obscure NBC cable channel, devouring hour upon hour of live Olympic coverage of a sport that I otherwise wouldn't attend if given a free ticket?
No, but I'm certainly in the minority in Milwaukee where the Summer Games are drawing huge Nielsen numbers--second best in the country. Only Salt Lake City, which hosted the Winter Games in the 90's and where there's an obvious five-ring afterglow, does better. A Wall Street Journal article Tuesday morning suggested that our region put in for the next available games, what with the passion we seem to have for the extravaganza.
I'm just not into the games this time around, and I don't know why. I caught most of the opening ceremony and found it opulent, occasionally over-the-top but overall entertaining. Still love the Queen parachuting in.
But the games themselves aren't appointment television for me. I caught myself watching soccer and the men's 10,000 meters at Chicago's Navy Pier Saturday afternoon after my son and I had just finished watching the new Batman movie. It held as as we downed our chow, but then we were off for the last stop of of baseball trip that night.
And maybe that's it--my vacation and our annual journey landed smack-dab in the middle of the games. Bad planning on my part, I guess, and probably the reason the London games and I didn't do a midsummer mind-meld. I subconsciously knew I'd be on the road, out of the mancave, and devoid of the usual routine. I didn't need the Olympic distraction because I had one of my own awaiting.
From what I've seen, the coverage has been great. I tire of the debate about live/tape delay: we're in a new digital era but the networks still run on the old financial paradigm: prime time drives revenue, and that's where the best product goes.
I'm not ambivalent about the Americans competing for international glory and personal satisfaction--quite the opposite. I love hearing "The Star Spangled Banner", burst with pride when the U-S is kicking butt.
But I'm just not feelin' it.
The other night, in fact, when the games were in full swing but the featured sport (I can't even remember what it was) didn't hold my interest, I went channel surfing, landing on a Dick Van Dyke rerun on MeTV.
This, from a guy who's attended all manner of Olympics in person: Lillehammer, Barcelona, Nagano, Atlanta, Salt Lake City, and Sydney. I've seen the torch both lit and extinguished live, in person. I've seen gold medal events. I collected the pins.
Enjoy the games, my fellow global citizens. I may dip in from time to time to join you, especially if the US keeps advancing in men's basketball.
But don't judge me if my trigger finger gets a little itchy while the remote lingers in my hand.
This might just be the night Laura Petrie gets her big toe stuck in that bathtub faucet again. I can't miss THAT.