I’ve caught Olympic fever

August 18, 2008

by Aaron Schultz

A week ago I had every intention of writing my column about the 29th summer Olympics in China.

Basically, I was just going to write about what I was looking forward to the most when it came to the Olympics.

Well, as I sat and thought about it, there really wasn’t anything that got me all that excited, and I was pretty confident that I wasn’t even going to watch much of it.

That thought, as many of my thoughts are, was wrong.

Since the Olympics started, I have been watching more and more of it every night.

At first I would just catch a glance of it on the TV from time-to-time; then it went to being my main flash back whenever the Twins game was on commercial; now I only turn the channel when there is a commercial.

I missed the opening ceremonies Aug. 8 as I was attempting to play modified softball. By the way, that is a game I might just want to hang up, but I’ll get to that later.

Then, Saturday, I spent my entire day watching baseball in Arlington and Hamburg, thus no chance to catch any of it.

Which brings us to Sunday, which I spent most of the time playing softball, then getting wet in the dunk tank at Legion Days in Winsted. I know, it is called the Winsted Summer Festival now, but it will always be Legion Days to me.

That night, after getting home and getting into some dry clothes, I tuned in for some of the Olympics.

I was pretty much just tuning in and out of the games until the men’s swimming 4X100 freestyle relay came on.

With all the press Michael Phelps has been getting, I figured I’d catch this race.

Besides, I was drawn to it even more when I heard that the French were talking smack to our beloved American team, saying they were going to smash us. That’s right us – I’m an American too, just not much of a swimmer.

The American team of Phelps, Jason Lezak, Garrett Weber-Gale, and Cullen Jones set the world record in coming from behind to beat the Frenchies.

It didn’t look like it was going to happen, as the French had a pretty big lead with the race winding down.

However, Lezak came from behind, overtaking French’s Alain Bernard in the final few feet, to claim the gold medal for the Americans.

What makes Lezak’s final leg of the relay so remarkable was that it was against Bernard, who entered the Olympics as the world record holder in the 100 meter freestyle.

Also, it was Bernard who made the infamous statement saying they were going to smash the Americans.

Talk about must see TV, that relay race was one of the best sporting moments I have seen in my life, at least in the Olympics.

It still pails in comparison to the US men’s hockey team beating the USSR in the 1980 Olympics, and then winning the gold, but nothing will ever match that.

This is what hooked me. After that race, I have been tuned in to the Olympics every chance I get.

Every morning I wake up, catch a quick glimpse of the news – have to see if there is another country Russia is planning on invading – then I go right to MSNBC.

I’ll watch nearly an hour of the Olympics every morning before heading off to work.

Then, once I’m back home I tune it right back in, and, unless the Twins are playing, I don’t turn the channel.

I’ve watched almost an entire US women’s soccer game; have seen Brazil and Hungary play team handball; saw the amazing sand volleyball team of Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor dominate a team from Cuba; watched the US softball team destroy Argentina; and have even watched some boxing, but I have no idea who was in the ring.

There has also been plenty of gymnastics coverage, and I saw the US women claim the silver medal and the US men win the bronze.

I know, I’ve even been watching men’s gymnastics, so I must have Olympic fever.

The funny thing is, the one team that I’d expect most casual Olympic fans to have seen is the one team I haven’t caught a second of – the US men’s basketball team.

It is not because I have been avoiding it, it just doesn’t seem to ever be on when I’m home.

That doesn’t mean I haven’t seen a little Olympic basketball, though, as I watched the second half of the Australia women’s basketball game against Brazil. Australia won the game 80-65.

Oh, before I forget, I have also watched men’s and women’s synchronized diving; a little archery; and some weight lifting.

Of all of the sports that I have watched, I’d have to say the least interesting to me is synchronized diving, even behind soccer.

I don’t know what it is, but I just can’t figure it out. Yet, I still stay tuned in.

Ah, the Olympics – what a great lead in to playoff baseball and the NFL.

My softball days are numbered

I played modified softball over the Winsted Summer Festival for the first time in many, many years.

And I’ll tell you what, I’m not too good anymore.

Although, in my first game I pinch hit and hit a home run.

Yeah, I was pretty impressed with myself.

But then reality set in on the final day of the tournament (Aug. 10), as I struggled in the field and at the plate.

Playing third base, I made every play that I could get to, but that was a problem – getting to balls.

I knew my range wasn’t what it used to be, but seriously, if it wasn’t hit right at me, I had no chance of fielding it.

My eyes and mind would pick everything up, but, for some reason, my body just wouldn’t react as fast as it needed to.

Then, at the plate the final day, I did little to suggest that home run I hit earlier in the tournament was anything but a fluke as I failed to hit many balls hard.

Lastly, the next few days were tough on my legs, and after just two full softball games.

I really either need to get into some kind of shape before I play again, or I might just have to hang up my softball bag.