We’re seven days into the 2012 London Olympics. I have been absolutely enthralled and these are the top 10 reasons.
10. Ryan Lochte’s Grill
Ryan Lochte is a former University of Florida Gator and since he isn’t allowed to wear jean shorts in the pool (har har!) he has to represent somehow, so he wears a $25,000 Paul Wall custom-designed “grill” to go along with the tattooed insignia of his Alma mater. The grill is diamond encrusted and fashioned to resemble the American flag. Though his mouthware is causing quite the stir this year, Lochte actually debuted it at the 2008 Olympic games in Beijing and again at the 2009 World Championships in Rome.
It’s amazing just how much hip-hop culture has penetrated the mainstream. It was 18 years ago when Biggie Smalls rapped: “You neva thought that hip-hop would take it this far.” Now Olympic medalists are sporting diamond grills on the podium. Go Gata.
9. The Opening Ceremonies
James Bond. Mr. Bean. Mary Poppins. Voldemort. Did you see those opening ceremonies? I did. But I was drunk and the T.V. at the hotel bar was on mute.
8. Shattering Stereotypes
Cullen Jones and Nathan Adrian are both members of the U.S. Men’s Swim Team. You may have noticed that Jones is black and Adrian is part Asian. We African-Americans are not known for our… aquatic skills. After nearly drowning as a child, his mother enrolled Jones in swimming lessons and he has since gone on to become one of only two African-American swimmers to win an Olympic (gold) medal. He also started a foundation that teaches young black kids how to swim.
Adrian is a gold medalist, taking first place in the 100m freestyle and defeating the defending champion, Australia’s James Magnussen, by .01 seconds. He is also 6’7” and Asians are not very good at height.
7. The Royal Family
Thanks in part to King George II, The Royal Family is strictly the ceremonial representative of the United Kingdom. That is its only responsibility. It doesn’t make or execute laws or declare war. Hosting the world for the XXX Olympics is kinda what it’s made for. Prince William and Kate Middleton seem to be enjoying their time at the games. Yet many people are making fun of the Queen for her seeming lack of interest during the opening ceremonies, but they forget she’s British and her facial expression is the equivalent to that of an American winning the MegaMillions jackpot.
6. The Fab Five
The U.S. Women’s Gymnastics team won gold in the team all-around competition, reclaiming the throne they haven’t occupied since 1996, when Kerri Strug pulled off one of the gutsiest Olympic performances ever.
5. The U.S. Women’s Indoor Volleyball Team
I spent a good part of last Saturday cooped up in a hotel room (I’ll explain later). As a result, I started watching the games and became fanatical about the USA vs. Brazil match, familiarizing myself with Megan Hodge, Christa Harmotto, and my new favorite indoor volleyball player of all-time, Destinee “D-Money” Hooker. These #1 ranked ladies are some of the most physically stunning athletes I’ve ever seen. And they posed for the NSFW-ish annual “body issue” of ESPN the Magazine. So there’s that.
4. U.S. Women’s Gymnast Gabby Douglas
16 year old Gabby Douglas won the gold medal for individual all-around competition, becoming the third consecutive U.S. woman to do so. Some people on Twitter also said some mean things about her hair and this has caused what passes for a controversy these days. No one competing at the highest level on an international stage should be expected to keep her hair in pristine condition. To be sure though, most of the criticism is coming from other African-American women. I don’t have time to get into a discussion about black women and hair because I don’t want to get carpal tunnel, plus Chris Rock already produced a very compelling documentary on the subject. I’ll just say that no matter what someone accomplishes there will always be someone else there to talk shit. Just so happens that now all you have to do is scan Twitter because people forget that other folks can read what they write on the Internet.
3. The Dream Team
The 1992 U.S. Men’s Basketball Team, dubbed the “Dream Team” has lately been enjoying a bit of resurgence in popularity. This is in large part due to an excellent documentary put together to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the team’s inception. NBA Commissioner David Stern said that there is only one Dream Team and that was the one assembled for the 1992 Olympic games. Horse shit.
A debate has raged as to whether the 2012 edition could beat the ’92 team. Yes they could. Michael Jordan was a singular talent but the other players on the team could all be matched. Kobe, LeBron, Melo, Kevin Love. I’m sure they could handle a recently retired Magic Johnson and an injury ravaged Larry Bird. The ’92 Dream Team may have been the most accomplished team to set foot on a court, but as they were constructed, it’s hard to imagine them matching the athleticism and skill of the 2012 edition. I don’t care what MJ says. Yesterday, against Nigeria, the Men’s team broke the Olympic record for both points scored (156) and margin of victory (83). So yeah.
Misty May-Treanor. GOOD LORD. That thing is a cherry-bomb. Gold medalists in both the 2004 and 2008 Olympic games, May-Treanor and her partner Kerri Walsh-Jennings have put on a clinic as the U.S. Women’s Beach Volleyball Team. Up until the third round of the 2012 games, the duo had never even lost a single set in Olympic play.
1. Geopolitical Implications
As everyone knows, the Olympic games are often thinly veiled proxy wars, geopolitical struggles masked as athletic competition. Think Jesse Owens winning four gold medals at the 1936 games in Berlin, Germany; an Olympics intended by Hitler to prove Aryan superiority.
And in the midst of the Cold War, who can forget the “Miracle on Ice” in 1980 at Lake Placid, New York when the U.S. Hockey team shocked the world by defeating the Soviet Union to advance to the gold medal game. The U.S. would go on to beat Finland for the gold medal but no one seems to actually care. It was all about destroying those commie bastards.
The Cold War looms so large over American culture. Even when the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics team won the gold medal for all-around competition, kids not even born when the Berlin wall came tumbling down took to Twitter and taunted our former arch-nemeses, the Ruskies, who lost in humiliating fashion.
Of course China is the new threat to American global hegemony. And so far the medal race had been a tight one. An American victory would hold off at least another four years before China eventually calls in our debt and repossesses our country.