Opinion column: Go for the gold

By Zachary Schuster

Ah, the Olympics; a great time for the world to come together and engage in friendly athletic competition. It is a magical event when dreams are made and national heroes are born. For the athletic elite, it is a time to shine, and for us weekend warriors and athletic never-will-bes, it is one heck of a time to watch television.

A big thank you is in order for the Greeks, who chose to hold this year’s summer games in the middle of August. Could there possibly be a better time to vegetate in front of the television 24 hours a day changing channels from USA to Bravo to CNBC to MSNBC to Telemundo to NBC? What a wonderful excuse to quit the summer job early and not do that math homework once school begins.

So what makes the Olympics worthy of one’s couch time? Is it the table tennis? Is it the cheerleaders at the beach-volleyball matches? Could it be that Speedos have finally gone out of style? Yes! Yes! And yes! But whatever your cup of tea, there is something to satisfy your TV watching needs at the summer games.

The big story at this year’s games is the attendance or lack thereof. Most pundits are unwilling to blame the lack of talent for the empty stands in the modern-pentathlon field for fear of hurting the athletes’ feelings – instead choosing to blame it on a fear of terrorism and another “Big Fat Greek Wedding” breaking out. Whatever the reason, what a shame! I can only imagine how thrilling it must be at the men’s indoor volleyball matches. No really, I am sure that it is thrilling.

As any veteran Olympic viewer knows, each game is not without its inspirational stories of athletes overcoming all odds to compete in front of the world. This year’s story is the Iraqi soccer team kicking grass en route to the quarterfinals. The only people not rooting for the underdogs of underdogs are those Americans who hate President Bush so much that they are not willing to accept that free societies produce awesome soccer players.

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I might agree with President Bush’s assertion that free societies are peaceful societies, but we are familiar with the shenanigans of those soccer hooligans who inhabit the lands across the pond.

Tuning into the Olympics also gives a welcome reprieve from the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth controversy being over-covered on CNN, FNC and the other three stations not fortunate enough to be broadcasting the Olympics. Then again, there is the chance that the Ancient Greek Seamen for Truth will make news in Athens by claiming that Odysseus did not, in fact, kill the cyclops.

Until that happens, thank goodness for the occasional drug scandal – a few steroids never hurt anyone. On second thought, the world is better without the steroid-riddled Communist she-men swimmers of the Cold War years.

The best part for Doritos-eating Olympiphiles is that the nature of the games promotes spectator laziness. There is no choosing between two teams from one city; no calculating any magic numbers; just rooting for the good old red, white and blue. It is so simple. If an athlete has U.S.A. emblazoned on his chest, he’s your guy. There is no need to worry about cultural sensitivity, just flag-waving U.S. nationalism.

Sadly the games soon will be over. This columnist, for one, will shed a tear or two to see them go. However, over the remainder of these eight special days, one thing is certain: No blood will be shed while the United States once again asserts its dominance over the world. What other time can a patriotic American sit on the couch chanting “We’re number one, we’re number one!” in good conscience while being a complete detriment to the national economy, educational level and health-care system? Exactly.

Zachary Schuster is a senior in engineering. His column runs Mondays. He can be reached at [email protected]