Olympics Week: Landmarks in Time


This week is Olympics Week!! A full week of all things Olympics. From posts about Olympic athletes to posts about personal reactions about the events to posts about the pageantry itself, this is your virtual one-stop-shopping center for the XXXI Olympiad. Why not dedicate two weeks? Well, I’ll run out of material. I’ll probably run out of material this week. Read on and let’s find out together….

I’ve always had a soft spot for the Olympics. Not because of the great athletic abilities shown off or the emotionally triumphs that we are privy to see, but how all of this relates to me.

  • 1984: Some of my earliest and fondest memories are from this Olympics. This year the USSR boycotted the LA Olympics because they were chicken of the pending US dominance (also because Jimmy Carter 4 years ago fucked up and boycotted the Moscow Olympics). This was the Olympics where Mary Lou Retton inspired an entire generation of young girls to partake in athletics and where Carl Lewis became a national hero. He was one of my favorite athletes as a kid. I would go in the back yard and try to jump as far and run as fast as Carl, despite the fact I was just a little kid and was slower than a sloth. But the most memorable part of these games is the McDonald’s promotion: get a scratcher card, if the Americans medal you get a free burger, fries, or whatever. Bingo!!! The USA won about every event due to the previous mentioned fear of the Soviets and McDonald’s lost millions while I was getting fat….for free!! I wonder if McDonald’s ever recovered from that……

  • 1988: I was in middle school and although the magic of youth was slowing seeping out of my life, I paid attention to every event in Seoul. From Roy Jones getting ripped off to Ben Johnson running with glow-in-the-dark eyes to Carl Lewis once again exerting his dominance, the ‘88 Olympics were still a big part of my growing up/

  • 1992: I was in high school, so obviously I was way too cool to love the Olympics as I did as a youth. But the Barcelona games were still so intriguing; the Dream Team beat everyone by 1000 points, Javier Sotomayer was trying to jump over the moon, the Dan vs Dave Reebok promotion bit the dust when Dan (the better of the two) couldn’t pole vault, and an old Carl Lewis still won a gold in the long jump.

  • 1996: I was in college, working at a bowling alley during the Atlanta games. I watched almost every event through the bar window as I was cleaning up cigarette butts. From Kerri Strugg performing an unnecessary vault to win the gold for Team USA to Michael Johnson running the most absurd 200m time in history, I’ll have those memories along with wiping up split beer with a dirty rag.

  • 2000: I was in grad school training to be a teacher during the Sydney games. Ian Thorpe was the star of this iteration, but there was also Maurice Greene running really really fast and some Greek guy winning the 200m.

  • 2004: I was teaching at this time of my life when the Olympics were back in Athens. Olympics in Athens just feel much more authentic. I am not exactly sure why; it is not like Plato is wrestling Archimedes naked while Zeus is watching from above. But they do feel different. What I remember the most, other than grading papers of kids who clearly didn’t understand anything Pythagoras said, was that the US basketball team lost. That is pretty funny.

  • 2008: I was watching the opening ceremonies in Beijing in my new house I bought. I remember the world becoming a little scared seeing all of that coordinated manpower; it was the Western world’s first glimpse into what China is and what China can be. Oh yeah, Michael Phelps won like 80 gold medals and Usain Bolt ran faster than anyone has ever ran before.

  • 2012: Going back to school to change careers and become what I am now. During this time, I got to see what London had to offer. These Olympics played out sort of the same way as ‘08, where Phelps won 80 golds and Usain was insane. What was more insane was the prob theory classes I had to take. Yes, I passed, but I certainly didn’t deserve any medals for it.

  • 2016: My first Olympics in Seattle. Let’s see what happens……

As you can see, the Olympics act as a sort of timeline of my life. Many people use their kids to relive wonderful times of their past. Sadly, I may never have a family of my own, but luckily I have a memory like a steel trap, so I can relive those times in a different way.

Memory is a funny thing; the earliest ones tend to be the strongest. Yeah, the older I get, the more jaded I am to the entire ordeal. But at least I have 1984. I am not sure if I remember the details of 1984 as well as I think I do, but I remember the emotion and the joy I had during that time very well.

It’s nice to have that.