Now, I have to start this piece with I love our country, wonderful melting pot, and land of opportunity that it is.
My parents both fled the holocaust, and while my mother's family (she mirgrated to the states when she was 15 with her mother and father) all settled here, the remainder of my father's side of the house all settled in that current Olympic hub of London.
In San Francisco, my folks met in 1940, and married in 1942, just before my father, who became a citizen thanks to the draft in World War II, shipped off for the European theatre. When he came home he went to Hastings College of the Law--on the GI bill--and eventually became a constitutional lawyer and ultimately a judge.
Meaning he had a pretty successful life thanks to the opportunities our country afforded. And, I have been lucky enough to benefit further, attending the good public schools in the 50's and 60's, then getting undergraduate and graduate degrees at the California State University of the East Bay (at the time known as Hayward State).
Further, I am a sports junkie of sorts as you could probably guess by reading my baseball and football work. But, growing up I was a swimmer, played tennis and golf regularly, and I can even plug an Olympic connection having attended the 1960 Winter fete at Squaw Valley, where my mother worked for a month as an interpreter.
Furthermore, I love London, where I have a myriad of cousins.
But, I have to say that I couldn't care less any more about the Summer games of this year. I have watched only a few moments scattered in among the news stories and on televisions in public (honestly, I saw a few minutes of ping pong and some trampoline, and well, are those really sports? Honest).
Worse, my disillusionment which I think of it for lack of better verbiage, seems to betting worse as I age; however, I don't think this is simply because I am getting closer to being a cranky old "you kids get out of my yard" kind of old man.
For one thing, like religion (or at least spirituality), I think national pride is one of those things that is more subtle and powerful when it is not smacked in our faces like advertising on cable TV. Which the Olympic games are, being a major part of such things mundane as probably Pepto Bismal being the "official dyspeptic relief formula of the Olympic games."
And, it is not that I am not happy for our countrymen and athletes winning awards, and being the world's best. I just don't like tallying and counting up the totals with the assumption that--especially in a global community--it means we are better than everyone else. For, again, we are a wonderful country in many ways. But, there are many other such, and, well, everywhere is home to someone. And, home is where the heart is, so...
But, I could relate to a piece I heard on NPR earlier in the week that said people were turned off by the advertising and jingoism and just overall in-your-face commercialism of the games, which are no longer even amatuer (was moving to professional status for the athletes a worse decision than DH or Astroturf?).
But, sort of like politics, I wish there were truly some fair way to underwrite games or elections so that everyone indeed had an equal chance as opposed to the biggest, richest, and baddest--and that could include both Russia and China--seemingly dominating everything in sight.
To me it just rings truer, with a sweeter tinge to victory, when there is a little national humility associated with the win. And, well, that is true for any kind of win, actually, be it in Scrabble or Yahtzee or the Men's 100 meter butterfly.
Oh, I wish I could get excited. I really do. And, it isn't that I want to be or feel cynical about the whole thing.
I just wish the Olympic committee would strip things back to something simpler, and truer to the ideas of sportsmanship and camaraderie that the original Grecian games sort of suggested, and that ideally were the point when the games were reannointed in 1896, also in Greece.
I think in doing so, it could make the whole event a lot more interesting. And fun.Though sadly, neither do I think would the approach be embraced by an action move reality TV People magazine culture.
Well, like I said: I am just turning into a cranky old man.
Editor's note: There will be no Bed Goes Up next Saturday as I will be in Cazadero, at music camp, where there is no wi fi and my cell phone just does not work.