Yesterday, I blogged on someone who DOES GET IT: Michael Callahan at the Philly Post!
Today, Theodore Furchtgott, at Real Clear Sports takes the opposite position: Olympic Soccer should be more like basketball! Yes, really:
And though the Olympic basketball cannot match the NBA in terms of general quality, Team USA will include such household names as Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Kevin Durant, a sign that even those at the highest level hold the games in high regard.
Instead, soccer at the Olympics will be a desultory affair that won’t bear a modicum of resemblance to a serious sports competition. Soccer at the Olympics is an insult to the prestige of London 2012.
Furchtgott blames the old fashioned cheating of the Soviet bloc as the reason soccer was opened up to pros, but only under certain conditions. He wants to remove the conditions! Not restore it to amateurs. He admits the Olympics in some ways is the culmination of an athletic career:
The world’s most famous and ancient sports event will take place this summer in London. For thousands of athletes, in sports ranging from synchronized swimming to the modern pentathlon, participation in the Olympics is the culmination of a successful career.
So why take it away? In so many sports, it is dominated by professional athletes who don’t need the glory and who take a spot away from a worthy amateur. For the most part, this is just another tournament for the professional athletes.
Furchtgott did get this right:
Unfortunately, soccer has been endorsed by the most respected pundit of them all: money. The soccer tournament is the most lucrative event at the Olympics, so it won’t go away soon.
It’s like what Michael Callahan said in his last column:
The Olympics represent the ultimate in sportsmanship, a coming together across the globe of athletes from different cultures, with different beliefs and often very different views, who all agree, by mutual consent, to put all of that aside and simply compete, side by side, for personal glory and national pride.
Because this isn’t patriotism anymore—it’s imperialist bullshit, a relentless drumbeat of “We’re America, and the rest of you suck,” aided and abetted by the billion-dollar U.S. Olympic complex, Bob Costas the orchestra conductor waving the baton and leading the jingoism, all set to Yanni.
I’m leaving in the word this time! Stop giving money to the USOC. Support worthy local amateur athletes or sports you are a fan of, such as curling or fencing or badminton. That is the only thing they understand. BTW, the first heats in the women’s 400 are August 3 and the finals are Sunday August 5. I’ll be at the TV with Botswana flag in hand if Amantle Montsho is in that finals and in a sports bar if Michael Callahan can come to Richmond. Maybe we’ll get a report on her by Bob Costas!