unlike the rest of the world, the Olympics aren’t wrapping up this weekend for the lady sparkler and I.

we’re only 200+ hours into the coverage, and have a solid 80 hours still to be watched on our tivo. (i know 200 hours sounds like a lot, but remember that one third of the coverage was commercials, and i swear another 20% was rowing or handball.)

from what i have heard, every one seems to think that the games were a solid “A+” for China, and so far I absolutely to agree.

unfortunately, i have started to hear some rumblings that the Olympics are starting to lose meaning. common talking points include:

the Olympics are from a more simplistic time — Since the 1972 Madrid crisis, national politics have mattered nearly as much as the sporting events themselves, and this year the games were held in China despite their miserable human rights record.

the Olympics promote rampant nationalism — there was an obsession about the total medal count (USA vs. China), an “our country is better than your country” measure if there ever was one. NBC’s coverage was pro-American to the point of being jingoistic (except for gymnastics, which was pro-Chinese once Al Trautwig finally shut up about the age of their women).

maybe there is some truth to this, but it seems to me that this is a bit simplistic. each of us watch the Olympics and take away exactly what we want to:

the internationalists see a great coming together of cultures to promote cooperation and understanding. the nationalists see a chance for us to prove our dominance in yet another arena. mommy-figure liberals see a reason to break out the kleenex box. daddy-figure conservatives see a reason to spend 2 weeks exploring the other 236 channels on their television.

george w. bush sees a chance to be relevant (and human) again.

sure, the coverage could be better. sure, the little sports (high jump, javelin, shooting) should get their due compared to the big sports (diving, beach volleyball, track). sure, tivo should be able to record all seven olympic channels at once and should be able to record more than 86 hours of coverage at once.

but, in the end, it’s been a kick-butt two weeks … even ignoring Michael Phelps (which a dark, hidden side of me was trying to do after medal five or so). i discovered a version of the Star Spangle Banner doesn’t sound like the British drinking song that it is. i discovered that the Chinese know how to party, and are freaky good at coordinated dance moves.

but, most poignantly, i discovered (finally) why every field hockey player i ever knew could crush me with their pinkie.