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Marc Mason is a freelance writer based in Tempe, AZ.

Saturday, August 21, 2004  
Olympic Thoughts

I'm not just saying this because I'm a stright male. Seriously. But aside from the men's swim team, who provided maximum entertainment with a heavy dose of class, I find it difficult to watch or care about any men's sports in this Olympiad. It is the women who continually provide the most interesting and competitive moments in these games. Mainly because, when you stack one gender against the other, the women have a lot fewer dicks on the playing fields.

Granted, Svetlana Khorkina isn't exactly a charmer, but even then, she's far more compelling to watch than the U.S. hideously awful "dream team" of men's basketball players. I've grown to loathe the NBA over the last seven or eight years, as the quality of play and actual skill level of the players has gone way down and the preening fuckheadedness and macho bullshit of the players has gone way up. Khorkina is at least out there on the floor, age-wise past her prime, busting her frozen personality's ass in one last grand attempt to retire fulfilled, while the "dream team" just seems to care about getting their minutes and shot attempts. Wake me when they finally get knocked out without a medal, won't you?

I'd rather watch true dominators at work. Misty May and Kerri Walsh are destroying the field in beach volleyball. Jenni Finch, who I watched when she was a collegiate player at the Dreaded U. of A., is helping lead the monstrous women's softball team towards a medal. Then there are the swimmers: Natalie Coughlin, Amanda Beard, Kara Lynn Joyce and the rest. What an amazing group! I knew early in the day that the 4x200 relay team had broken the last standing (and tainted) East German swimming record in shattering fashion, and yet watching it, I found myself literally on the edge of my seat with excitement. That's great sport.

So if you give me the choice between watching the men's sprinters in track and field puffing out their chests and showing more machismo than Erik Estrada in 1979 or watching Jenny Thompson end her storied career by struggling in her last two races... I'm going to take Thompson, a true champion who has been doing it for a long time and doesn't talk about herself in third person.

Throw in the women's basketball team, and there's not even a question about what this Olympics is about. In a year when the games have returned to their cradle, in a city named for a goddess, for sixteen nights in a row... it's ladies' night. And oh, what a night it is.

11:09 PM

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