I have never been a big fan of the Olympic Games. I would watch them occasionally, especially in the summer when things weren't so busy, but would rarely ever watch the Winter Games. 2012 has been different. Maybe it's the time of year; when my favorite television shows are all in reruns. Or maybe it's the hype that NBC has been sending out almost every minute of the day promoting the London Games. I still watch some baseball, but most nights, we find our remote settling in on the Olympics.
I have suddenly become a big fan of beach volleyball; especially women's beach volleyball. It is hard to imagine any other athlete or team that has dominated a sport as much as the USA team of Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh-Jennings. The two had not lost a single set in Olympic competition until last week, and as they head to the semi-finals, they still have never lost a match in the Summer Games. The two won the gold medal in 2004 and again in 2008. And there is a good chance the gold medal match this year could be an all-USA event. Both May-Treanor and Walsh-Jennings are in the semi-finals, as well as Jennifer Kessey and April Ross. It may be getting a bit "old hat" for Treanor and Jennings as they had just one first place finish in 2012, prior to the Olympic Games. As many big-time athletes do however, they seem to be coming on at the right time.
While I have always enjoyed watching top athletes compete, my wife remains a bit cynical. She is convinced that I only watch beach volleyball, because the female athletes usually wear skimpy bikinis. (That's not the only reason, but it is a contributing factor.)
I have also become enamored with the up and down performances of the Team USA Women's Gymnastics squad. I felt so sorry for sixteen year old, McKayla Maroney on Sunday evening. She was the odds on favorite to win the gold medal in the women's vault; the same event she was world champion in, for 2011. But one slip during the second of her two exercises dropped her to silver medal status. Still, not bad at all, but very disappointing, especially to McKayla. On Monday night, another sixteen year old, Gabby Douglas was also the favorite in the uneven parallel bars. She had already won a gold for "Best All Round", but after an exercise where she turned the wrong way out of a hand stand, she lost 1.5 points in deductions and failed to win a medal at all. Are you kidding me? Those watching at home, and most of those watching in the London arena didn't notice the mistake at all. We thought she had done a marvelous job, but the judges decided differently. That's why I have never liked competition like this. The judges are too powerful and years and years of work could go down the drain in the blink of an eye. You go from gold medal favorite, to no medal at all in a matter of seconds.
There are always heart warming stories in Olympic coverage, such as South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius who became the first double amputee to ever run in an Olympic event, and run very well indeed. Being a long time sports journalist, I find these features very intriguing.
I guess you could say I am now a fan of the Olympic Games. You could also say, no he's just an old guy that's bored, with nothing else to do until the start of college football season. You could be right on both counts.
Randy Smith has been covering sports in Tennessee for the last 43 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has continued his broadcasting career as a free-lance play-by-play announcer. He is also an author and is a media concepts teacher at Red Bank High School in Chattanooga. Randy Smith's career has included a 17-year stint as scoreboard host and pre-game talk show host on the widely regarded "Vol Network". He has also done play by play of more than 500 college football, basketball, baseball and softball games on ESPN, ESPN2, Fox Sports, CSS and Tennessee Pay Per View telecasts. He was selected as "Tennessee's Best Sports Talk Show Host" in 1998 by the Associated Press. He has won other major awards including, "Best Sports Story" in Tennessee and his "Friday Night Football" shows on WRCB-TV twice won "Best Sports Talk Show In Tennessee" awards. He has also been the host of "Inside Lee University Basketball" on CSS for the past 11 years. He was the first television broadcaster to ever be elected to the "Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame", in 2003. Randy and his wife, Shelia, reside in Hixson. They have two married children (Christi and Chris Perry; Davey and Alison Smith). They also have three grandchildren (Coleman, Boone, and DellaMae