Olympic tips: Some sports are more entertaining than others

By John Toth

I find myself cheering for the USA water polo squad and for the underdog in kayaking. I could not care less about these sports at any other time but during the Olympics.

I have the TV turned to NBC and watch whatever sport is on. I am not glued to it, but every now and then whatever is on gets my attention.

It’s the Olympics as packaged by NBC. And, in my opinion, it is packaged well.

It’s one big reality show and lasts for two weeks, every day, every night.

The first Olympics I remember watching was in 1964. I was 9 years old, and I was watching it in Budapest, Hungary, on a piece of junk - a Russian-made TV that was broken more often than not.
At that particular time, it was working, but it could have gone out anytime.

The 1972 Olympics in Munich stand out in my mind the most, when Palestinian terrorists on Sept. 5 took nine Israeli coaches and players hostage, killing all of them. That was 40 years ago this year.

That’s the first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions the ‘72 Olympics. However, that was also the same year Mark Spitz set a world record by winning seven gold medals. Spitz, who is Jewish, had to leave early and did not participate in closing ceremonies because of further terrorist threat rumors.

I was watching the ‘72 Olympics on a new, 25” color set in the U.S.

One thing I have noticed is that a short time after the Olympics, I can’t really remember much about the participants. A few names stand out every now and then, but for the most part, the athletes slip away into oblivion for another four years, at which time many become household names again for two weeks.

Not for me, you say?

You’re not into soccer, or fencing, or anything that is not hit by a bat during the summer?

Here are some sports to get you started: archery, basketball, boxing, cycling, diving,fencing, gymnastics, rowing, sailing, shooting, swimming, water polo, weight lifting and wrestling.

There are some sports in there that may appeal to you other than basketball, which is owned by the U.S. professional players. Or, it should be, anyway.

I forgot volleyball, especially women’s beach volleyball. Actually, guys, this would be a good event to start with, to bring you more in touch with the Olympics. You’ll see what I mean. You may want to set your recorder for this event.

I have already scouted it out for you, and it’s worth to watch, even though the British do it a little differently. The volleyball court is behind Buckingham Palace, and the weather in London doesn’t always cooperate with this particular sport. But it’s still a good way to spend a few hours enhancing your Olympic experience.

I personally like soccer, but I would not recommend that newcomers to the Olympics delve into this sport right away. It takes time to get used to it. There is not a whole lot of scoring, and the soccer field is too big, in my opinion.

Meanwhile, water polo is a good substitute. There is plenty of scoring and fouling. It’s like hockey in a pool, except you can see the ball better than a hockey puck, and there is a lot more scoring.

I have to give credit to those players. They are tough. I would not be the goalie in that sport, although it’s not exactly like anyone from the other team would be aiming straight at me. But I could inadvertently get in the way, and that ball has to hurt.

The players are wearing caps and swimsuits, nothing else to protect them. I wonder if after a game they come out of the pool all scratched up?

I can tell you’re getting into the Olympic spirit reading this. Give it a try. There is still time.

Then you’ll be like me and criticize when a gymnast doesn’t “stick” the finish. Or, when a diver makes a little larger splash at entry. “ He’ll get points taken off for that,” I find myself saying.

It’s fun summer TV, and good practice for 2016, when the winter games will be held again, and we can all become instant experts in those sports.