Olympics: Nationalism, doping among things that take the wonder out of the Olympics

The theory behind the Olympics is solid, but it never holds. Too much nationalism. Too much judging. Too much doping. Too much politics.
by Berry Tramel Published: July 27, 2012
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photo - Performers are silhouetted as the Olympic rings are illuminated during the Opening Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Friday, July 27, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Performers are silhouetted as the Olympic rings are illuminated during the Opening Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Friday, July 27, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

I'm sitting here watching London's Opening Ceremonies. I love the British. Paul McCartney's supposed to sing soon. And James Harden's beard should make an appearance. Both should be cool.

So I'm trying to have a good attitude. But I am failing.

The Olympics no longer light my torch. Give me two straight weeks of the NBA playoffs or March Madness. Give me two straight weeks of bowl games or NFL playoffs. Give me the Big House in March or Friday night lights in Weatherford and Clinton.

The Olympics? Eh.

I know the theory is solid. The brotherhood of man coming together for spirited competition, arriving as strangers and leaving as friends.

But the theory never holds.

Too much nationalism. Too much judging. Too much doping. Too much politics.

Too much period. Sort of like the insufferable Opening Ceremonies.

I feel guilty just writing about this. My friend Bill Hancock long has been an Olympic volunteer. He always writes a daily dispatch about his Olympic adventures; he experiences Olympiads with wonder in his eyes.

I put Bill's Olympic musings on my blog every day. I'm not a total killjoy. I love Bill's enthusiasm for the Olympics. I hope I feel about other sports the way Bill feels about the Olympics.

I once loved the Olympics myself. Really I did.

1976. I was 15 years old. The Montreal Games of Nadia Comaneci and Alberto Juantorena.

Bruce Jenner. Edwin Moses. John Naber. That glorious U.S. boxing team. Thirty-six years later, I still don't have to look up the American boxing gold medalists — Sugar Ray Leonard, Howard Davis, Leo Randolph and the Brothers Spinks.

Maybe there was something special about 1976. More likely, there was something special about being 15.

Then came the U.S. boycott in Moscow and the Soviet boycott in Los Angeles. And when finally we had a full Olympics, 1988 in Seoul, Ben Johnson doped his way to the signature gold medal.

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by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The...
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