Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Bill reminds you that you didn't enjoy the Summer Olympics between 1988 and 2000

Do you remember any of those games?  I was too young to know or care about Seoul in '88, but I enjoyed the fuck out of Barcelona and Atlanta.  Sydney not so much, but between Atlanta and then I turned 16 so I probably had better things to do than watch (like hang out in the parking lot of the local 7-Eleven).  Anyways I could swear I really had a great time following those 1992 and 1996 games.  Could swear.  Fortunately Bill's here to set me straight and make me realize that my memories are completely wrong.  Those Olympics actually sucked.

We wouldn't remember the next four Summer Olympics nearly as fondly. Seoul happened during my first year in college; like my freshman year,

Cue up Johnny Carson as Carnac the Magnificent.  Well, this is his bit reversed, but you know what I mean.

 it was tainted by drugs, cheating and a series of unexpected second-place finishes. 

(I'm still angry at John Thompson, by the way.) 

I'm sure he's sorry.

Barcelona happened right after I miraculously graduated with a 3.04 — the biggest upset of the 1990s

Add to the list of "That Guys" who Bill is: That Guy who thinks you will think he's cool if he tells you he got mediocre grades.  

— with the Dream Team effectively hijacking every other Olympic memory that summer. 

Yeah, didn't it suck when the best basketball team ever assembled put on a magnificent show for us over the course of two weeks?  Wasn't that just the worst?  Ugh, we should have boycotted those games like we boycotted Moscow in 1980.

Magic and Bird's farewell felt strangely fitting for me, like they were ushering in the official end of my childhood. 

OMG IT'S SO FITTING!  LOOK AT THAT BUILT IN NARRATIVE!  Now that I think about it, even though I was still in elementary school then, it was also kind of like the end of my childhood!  Basketball Jesus is at the center of my life and I'm not afraid to admit it!

The '96 Olympics in Atlanta were a massive letdown, 

Yeah, wasn't it terrible when the US cleaned up the medals (44 gold and 101 total; next closest in each category were 26 and 65) and we got to witness amazing moments from Michael Johnson, Amy Van Dyken, Andre Agassi, Carl Lewis (4th long jump gold for my main man Carl!  UH OH!), and yes, I hate to admit it, but Kerri Strug?  WHAT A LETDOWN.  BOO.  The only thing that actually sucked about these Olympics was that they were held in the south in July and August, but fortunately the atrocious summer weather didn't affect the 99.999% of us watching on TV.

marred by the frightening bombing (and ensuing witch hunt of Richard Jewell), an embarrassing level of overcommercialization, 

That started well before 1996.  Also, he's about to praise the Beijing games, so yeah, either they stopped commercializing the ever-loving shitpiss out of the Olympics, or Bill's head is in his ass as usual. 

NBC's relentlessly sappy puff pieces and a generally contrived vibe that everyone despised 

Read: that I despised

and that had absolutely nothing in common with the dutifully ironic, brooding, me-first attitude of Generation X. 

Yes, there is definitely a connection to be made between the stereotype of Americans born during the 60s and whether or not the Olympics were broadcast in an enjoyable fashion.  


In the span of 12 short years, it was hard to say what changed more — the Olympics or us. 



Meanwhile, I wasn't even writing anymore, just bartending, waiting tables, partying, brooding and staying up until 4 a.m. every night. My life sucked. So did the Atlanta Olympics.

Fuck you.  Die.

By the time Sydney rolled around in 2000, I had my own website and a snarky forum to poke fun of never-ending tape delays, 


puff pieces and everything else … you know, just like 10 million other frustrated, underpaid writers on the Internet. (Really, that was our first Internet Olympics.)

And boy did they suck!  Or something!  Bill has abandoned his incredibly self-centered and shoddy thesis.  It's almost like he put no thought into it in the first place.

During 2004's games in Athens, I had graduated to writing the "Sports Guy" column for, making decent coin 

Fuck you twice.

and breaking down Team USA's Basketball collapse with Unabomber-length manifestos. Americans digested that particular Summer Olympics the same way we digested everything else in 2004: inhaling everything while complaining the entire time. 

Almost as worthless and out of place as his Gen-X comment.  You wonder how he writes such dog shit, then you read the ESPN book and find out that he whines to his editor's boss when his editor tries to edit anything, and ultimately writes "stet all changes" on the manuscript and sends it back.

With 500 channels and dozens of Internet-related ways to distract ourselves, the idea of tape-delaying anything sports-related just seemed prehistoric. 

Yeah, who DIDN'T want to watch the events live from like 5 AM til 4 PM?  People with regular jobs? Pity for them.  They didn't have the idea of writing about sports on TV to an audience that liked everything about TV, with the silver spoon benefit of a very helpful AOL blog platform.  

We were pissed off. 

You were pissed off.

I don't even remember enjoying those Olympics, just being bitter about how badly that franchise had been screwed up. 

Now watch him gush all over the Beijing games.  The cognitive dissonance is staggering.

Athens was like watching Clooney as Batman and Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze.

Leave Mr. Freeze out of this.  Arnold did a great job.

Four years later, I passed up a chance to cover Beijing so I could write my 700-page monstrosity of a basketball book. Once upon a time, I had dreamed of covering a Summer Olympics, envisioning it as something of the Super Bowl for sports columnists. You zipped around, attended as many events as possible, ripped off pieces and tried to stand out. 

By pointing out that many Olympic level female athletes are attractive, and then by bringing up The Client List every three paragraphs.  

After 1996, 2000 and 2004, I just didn't care. Those days were dead. Or so I thought. Because Beijing rejuvenated the Olympics franchise, with NBC taking better advantage of its resources (cable and Internet) to show more events as they happened. Suddenly the viewer experience wasn't much different than attending in person — you jumped around and devoured as much as you could.

Of course you did!  Between midnight and 9 AM!  What, it's not like there was anything ELSE going on during those hours.  Thanks, NBC!  What a self-centered cunt this man is.  This is just like that article he wrote about how NBA coaches need to be more mindful of the feelings of season ticket holders.  HOW DARE YOU REST ANY OF YOUR STARS WHEN YOU COME TO MY CITY! I PAID GOOD MONEY FOR THESE SEATS!  SOMEBODY THINK ABOUT ME FOR ONCE!

It helped that Michael Phelps submitted an iconic performance, breaking out as a genuine superstar instead of a manufactured one. 

Which Olympic stars are of the manufactured variety?  99% of them are nobodies until they win something, and the other 1% play pro basketball and tennis and are already stars.

Somewhere between his fourth gold medal and his 27th, I started second-guessing myself for missing Beijing. When our hoops team barely fended off Spain in one of this decade's most underrated dramatic sporting events (no, seriously), 

I get that basketball is your thing, and that it's exciting that the US is great at it.  But come on--we get amazing basketball for like 7 months out of every year here.  You're no better than NBC, cramming basketball, gymnastics and swimming down our throats.

the Summer Olympics moved back atop my Sports Column Bucket List. I could have been there. I should have been there.

But I was too busy writing a book!  (Me!  I wrote a book!  A whole one!)

London is the 11th Summer Olympics of my lifetime and the 30th overall, making it the XXX Olympics (and if you think that's not going to be funny for three straight weeks, you're fooling youself). 

The funniness kind of seeped out of that one for me about 15 seconds after I first realized it.  I guess I'm either fooling myself or no longer in the seventh grade.

Ripping through those checkpoints again: 1972 (no memory),1976 (happy kid), 1980 (parents' divorce), 1984 (the patriotism/pop culture/TV/herofest), 1988 (college freshman), 1992 (college graduate), 1996 (bitter slacker), 2000 (Internet), 2004 (ESPN), 2008 (book), 2012 (here).

Thanks for the recap, news/talk radio host, but no one gives a shit.

That's right … I finally made it to the Summer Olympics.

There are so many parallels to Game of Thrones here, it's uncanny!


Biggus Rickus said...

If they made a "This Ain't the Olympics XXX" parody, that would be kind of amusing. Other than that, yeah, XXX doesn't do anything for me.

jacktotherack said...

"My life sucked. So did the Atlanta Olympics."

What a piece of shit. I'm guessing I'm about the same age as you Larry, and for me the 1996 Olympics will always be the greatest Olympics of my life. I was 14 and just getting ready to enter high school and was having the time of my life. I loved watching Michael Johnson, The Magnificent 7 (hell Dominique Moceanu's floor routine made me buy a Charlie Daniel's album just to have "Devil Went Down to Georgia"), all of it. Literally the only bad thing about those games was the bombing, and I remember waking up that Saturday morning and being pissed that someone had tried to ruin what had been a perfect Olympics.

But I guess because Bill was a self-loathing bartender during that part of his life we are supposed to accept the fact that those games were "a massive letdown". What a crock of shit.

cs said...

Not only a book, a 700 page book!

I think this is the 900th time he mentioned that. He really thinks it's something that he wrote a 700 page book.

Alex said...

"and that had absolutely nothing in common with the dutifully ironic, brooding, me-first attitude of Generation X."

There it is. Lazy "generational" references. Is there a "you last" generation? I wonder. Ask Bill.

"the span of 12 short years, it was hard to say what changed more — the Olympics or us."

Here's the thing. I read a lot. I mean a lot. Abstracts. History books. Periodicals. I read in three languages too. I read a lot of sports mags and books too.

So I feel comfortables in stating this has got to be one of the most atrocious questions I've ever read in my life.

Just awful.

Making "good coin" doesn't necessarily guarantee provide "good content."

I'm very angry right now.

Alex (Douche version) said...


Steve Noffke said...

you guys read his latest column about gymnastics vs swimming. Just wow. Best part is when he complains about the new scoring in gymnastics. The guy who always wants to change stuff just for fun, can't figure out why we didn't just keep something the same.

Alex said...

Man, I really need to proof read. Sorry guys.

BR said...

LarryB: I was directed to this blog by a Bottom of the Barrel link. I love the fact that you are attacking that pretentious ass hat Simmons. As I explored the blog, I noticed there are a shitload of fellow writers listed and some links to recommended sites. Some of these sites had posts where the most recent was from 2008. I then noticed that all the posts on this blog that I checked were keyed by you. Grow up, Larry and learn to share. Let those other guys out of the closet or wherever you have them stashed. Keep up the good work on Simmons.

Biggus Rickus said...


"the span of 12 short years, it was hard to say what changed more — the Olympics or us."

That is so Klostermanian (Klosterman-esque?) that I have to assume he edited this column for Bill and inserted it.