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FROM THE CHEAP SEATS – What can we learn from watching Olympic games?

I’ve been trying to watch the Olympic games every night when I can. So far, it’s been quite entertaining. My daughter and I watched the USA men’s volleyball team play. She plays volleyball so she was giving me quite the play by play. She was marveling at how high the guys could jump and how hard they could spike. What really caught her eye was the fact that they rarely, if ever, touched the net. It was incredible.

Another sport I watched was men’s handball. To tell you the truth, I thought it was going to be like racquetball without the racquet. Was I ever wrong! It seemed like a cross between basketball and soccer. They passed the ball around with their hands like basketball but they were throwing to a goal with a goalie in front of it. It was fun to watch.

However, the hardest sport for me to watch was water polo and I watched the USA women play China, well, the first quarter at least. I literally had NO idea what was going on. Like handball, they were throwing at a goal with a goalie in front of it. Other than that, I couldn’t tell you what they were doing. Whistles were being blown ALL the time. Were there fouls committed? Don’t ask me! I will NEVER be impatient with someone who is watching baseball or football with me and doesn’t know the rules. I felt like a fish out of water.

I’ve been enjoying the swimming as well. It’s amazing to watch the swimmers compete and the rivalries that have been formed. Katie Ledecky, one of the most decorated swimmers of all time, is widely considered the greatest female swimmer of all time. However, her dominance has caused other swimmers to train harder to try and catch her and it looks as though Australian Ariarne Titmus has done just that. She edged Ledecky in the 400 meter freestyle, winning gold as Ledecky settled for silver. Believe it or not, that was her first loss in an individual event at the Olympics.

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Speaking of all-time greats, Simone Biles withdrew from Olympic competition citing mental health concerns. She said that she was experiencing the twisties, which can be described as losing air awareness while in the air and being unable to land safely. If you doubt that she is really experiencing it, just look at how she was doing before that. She seemed to be disoriented not only as she competed, but while she was walking around as well.

Earlier I mentioned that dominance in a sport could cause others to up their games. That appears to be the case in men’s basketball. I believe that there are several reasons why the USA men’s team is not living up to expectations but I think that the rest of the world has caught up to them, in a sense. The USA should ALWAYS be favored in basketball because of the number of pros that are on the team. I think they will turn it around and win a medal, but they’ll need to play like they did against Iran to win. They played team basketball and they actually played some defense.

Now, if I can only find out how to watch Olympic mountain biking!

–Rob Mooney, Metro Voice sports writer