Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A More Thoughtful Post About The Olympics

Probably the best basketball-themed blog in existence is something called FreeDarko. The site's name derives from those first few seasons (from like 2003-'04) of Mr. Darko Milicic's NBA career, when this purportedly supremely talented Serbian basketballer was chained to the bench while his teammates went on to win a championship with basically minimal help from the big white dude named Darko. The founders of the site have created an entirely new aesthetic of basketball--and they've nearly left Darko in the dust, because it turns out that he sucks--and there's just about a weekly post trying to define the true meaning of FreeDarko-ness. They're pretty much the most original basketball thinkers I've ever read, and the cool thing is that their innovation isn't related to basketball strategy or anything having to do with playing the game; it's innovation in the realm of being a fan. In short, they think critically about sports, refusing to just blindly root for laundry.

Here's a thought mentioned briefly by site founder Bethlehem Shoals (not his real name, but a fellow Jew):
I hope no one freaks out and kills me over this, but I can't help but feel like the Olympics are totally 9/11. That's the last time I felt compelled to sit in front of the television as if marathon spectatorship were a meaningful act. A lifestyle, even.
Carter Blanchard, a frequent contributor to the site, elaborates thus in the comments:
A friend of mine has a theory that these are the first Olympics that feel relevant to him, because, he thinks, they're the first in which our athletic/economic/political/moral superiority feels in doubt. I think more accurately it might be the first for which we're aware of vulnerabilities that have always been there, but regardless, I think this somehow ties in with Shoals' 9/11 point. They must be watched. And frogs must be humbled.
As I've mentioned already, it's been a good twelve years since I've watched the Olympics. Do these feel any different to anyone else? My mom, for example, isn't much of a sports-enthuasiast, but even she got mildly pumped up during the creepy girls gymnastics last night. Are we reassuring ourselves through Michael Phelps?


Ariel said...

I love the Olympics. I'm not an early riser, but if the US Men's Basketball Game can get me to wake up at 8AM, well, then someone's doing something right.

joshua said...

First of all, Darko earned one of the best nicknames of all time, "the human victory cigar", because when he got into a game in Detroit you knew it was over (and he still has a chance to be good in Memphis, although he'll probably never be the next Arvidas Sabonis).

Secondly, maybe the Olympics Fever and people feeling defensive has to do with China declaring itself the new superpower and guaranteeing winning the most gold medals, a move so brash and obnoxious it seems American (in a good way).