I know that I used to care. I used to know the athletes, I used to look forward to watching the best basketball players in the world - the U.S. Dream Team - crush the opposition.But now, I'm not so sure. Don't get me wrong, I love the concept. I consider myself a sports purist and I appreciate what the Olympics is about, historically. And maybe it's that I'm getting older, but with the exception of the women's soccer team and both basketball teams, I can't name 10 U.S. Olympic athletes.I know there's a guy, Phelps of Baltimore, who's a pretty good swimmer and I know about softball pitcher Jenny Finch, but that's mostly because she's a hottie. I also know a few of the fencers - such as Keeth Smart, Ivan Lee and Jon Tiomkin - but that's only because they are from St. John's.I used to know a lot of them. I remember Carl Lewis, Mark Spitz, Marion Jones, Mary Lou Retton. I even remember Dan O'Brien and Dave Johnson from the old Nike ad campaign and that wrestler Rulon Gardner from the last Olympics.And maybe it's because I'm a hockey fan, but the Winter Games are great! In addition to some of the best and most competitive hockey you're ever going to see - and don't tell me you can say the same about basketball in the summer - there was Sarah Hughes' winning the Gold and the saga of Apolo Ohno.I seemed to know so many of those story lines but I can't say the same about the Summer Games. I don't think these Olympic athletes have been properly marketed and it's led to the disinterest of these games. There is no personality in the Olympics - at least not the Summer Games.I wanted to test out that theory a bit, so I listened to sports radio several times throughout the week and the number of times I heard the Olympics mentioned by a caller was zero. In fact, on Saturday morning the Jets and Giants preseason openers received much more attention than anything that happened in Athens the day before.I listened to the sports updates on 1010 Wins and the blurb about the Olympics came just before the results of the fifth race in Saratoga.The reason I was listening to sports radio and was awake at 8 a.m. on a Saturday was because it was the opening of the English soccer season and I was rushing home to watch the first of a tripleheader on Fox Sports World.And on Friday night I was quite content to eat some wings while watching the Jets take on New Orleans in their preseason opener. Oh, yeah, wasn't that when the Opening Ceremonies was on NBC?I did catch some of the pomp and circumstance of the Opening Ceremonies after the Jets game and I found it really funny that it ran late even though it was on tape!Hey, NBC, I know you paid a gazillion dollars to broadcast the Olympics but can you please show the Opening Ceremonies live, you know, like when it actually happened? Games are on MSNBC, CNBC and Telemundo - they couldn't be shown there live first and then on tape during prime time later?Sure, I want every U.S. athlete to win the Gold, and I get the chills whenever I hear the national anthem played and see the flag raised when they do win the Gold. But why should I care when some of the athletes don't seem to care, themselves.Yes, I'm talking about the men's basketball team. It pains me to see these multimillionaires sleepwalk through their games. They don't care because there's no money to be made for them. It's just an inconvenience, or maybe just a free trip to Greece.They wear all the free US Olympic gear, but they don't appear to care or understand what it means to wear those three letters across their chests. Maybe the USOC should have made "Miracle" a mandatory watch in their portable DVD players. Maybe then they would understand what it means to wear the Red, White and Blue.So call me an anti-American and cast me off to Canada but I'm glad this so-called Dream Team got crushed by Puerto Rico Sunday. And I hope the same happens when they play and Greece, Australia, Lithuania and Angola.I'd love for them to lose by 40 points every time they play because maybe, just maybe, that is what the U.S.A. brain trust will need to realize it's time to forget the egocentric NBA players and go with college players again.Maybe they wouldn't win the Gold and then again maybe they would. But they'd play like a team, they'd play with heart and they'd represent the country well.And maybe then I'd care again.Reach Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 143.
©2004 Community News Group
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