You would have thought a UK basketball game was on. Had you been a fly on the wall last night, you would have seen Jason and me jumping up and down, screaming, "Go! Go! Goooooooo!" at the TV, and pumping our fists wildly in the air. There's only one event that can get us that pumped up on a summer night: the Olympics.
I am not much of a sports fan. I love my UK basketball, but as a general rule I don't like watching sports on television. Take me out the ballgame and buy me a beer, and I will cheer for our (pathetic) Cincinnati Reds. But a televised Reds game hypnotizes me and cures my insomnia. I own a Bengals jersey with Carson Palmer's name and number on the back solely because we have spirit days here at school where students and teachers are asked to wear Bengals atire. I watch the Super Bowl for the commercials. Sports just ain't my thing.
But for two summer weeks every 4 years (I don't count the winter Olympics; does anyone?) I watch the finest athletes the world has created engage in fierce competition in round-the-clock coverage. I have never been on a swim team, and can only swim well enough to (hopefully) save my life, but I can't help but get fired up over Olympic swimming. My gymnastics ability peaked when I learned how to execute a cartwheel, but I adore watching those super-strong young women vault and tumble and stick their landings. I ran track just long enough to respect and be awed by men who can run 100 meters in under 10 seconds and women who can three-step over hurdles. I think we all are amazed by people who have abilities we don't have; I have never been an athlete, so I am intrigued by those elite bodies and minds who are so good at running, at swimming, at calculating where in space their bodies are as to have a flawless dismount from a bar hanging many feet over their heads or a straight entry into a pool of water after flipping and twisting in the air.
This time Jason and I, like the rest of the world, are in love with Michael Phelps.
Last night saw us up later than we should have been to watch the smackdown in the freestyle relay between the trash-talking French and the underdog Phelps-led Americans. With one man left to swim, the sportscasters were all but giving it to the favored French team; they had us by a good margin, and it looked like even a silver was going to be a struggle.
But here's the thing: America became an independent nation as an underdog in a come-from-behind victory. Belittle us, talk trash, tell us we're second-best, and all you're gonna do is make us want to kick some European ass. We will win or we will break an ankle trying.
Which is what those 4 men from America did. Not the break an ankle part.
Well, it all came down to just the one. The anchor refused to give up. In the last 50 meters, he caught the French anchor. And beat him to the wall by a mere few hundreds of a second.
I have never seen 4 happier men.
The mood was jubliant in the Cranky living room, too. When they made the last turn, the announcer had made some comment about the French swimmer extending the lead, but I wasn't so sure. I got up out of my seat, feeling that something amazing was going to happen. And when it was all over but the shoutin', Jason and I whooped as loudly as we did when the "Comeback 'Cats" of 1998 scored the basket that launched us past Utah for the first time since falling to a 10-point deficit in the first half. (Of course, we were still in our car driving back from an ill-timed chorus concert when that shot happened, and couldn't holler very loud lest we deafen each other, but still.)
I can't wait to get home from the open house we are having tonight at school to watch sports. Whodathunkit?
Are you as pumped by the Olympics as I am? What's your favorite event? If you could make an Olympic event out of something you're really good at for the sole purpose of winning a medal(which I'm pretty sure is how badminton became an Olympic sport), what would that be? (When I was little I used to pretend my recess matches of "4-Square" was an Olympic event and I was the returning gold-medalist, because I was pretty good at 4-Square. Kickball? Not so much.)