This was my mother’s idea. So you can credit her with the assist.
My mom grew up figure skating, a sport which is obviously a focal point of the Winter Olympics every four years. Whenever Michelle Kwan or Sarah Hughes was on ESPN performing triple-toe-loops growing up, my dad and I used to joke, “Quick, change the channel before mom sees!”
Anyway, what used to make the Olympics so refreshing was that professionals were not allowed to compete. Think about the Miracle on Ice. A bunch of college kids came together and somehow beat the Soviets amidst the tension of the Cold War. Remember in “Miracle,” Mike Eruzione no longer played for BU; he played for Team USA.
That was cool.
The Dream Teams who dismantled international foes, bearing gold medal after gold medal just can’t compare to The Miracles (don’t forget about the 1960 USA hockey team; the 1980 squad was the second miracle) simply because the players were paid to play.
To me, this issue is most relevant because of the upcoming Beijing Games, specifically basketball. We all know that March Madness is sports’ most exciting time of the year. Imagine those same athletes donned in red, white, and blue, representing the Land of the Free, Home of the Brave.
At the very least, it would give you tips on how to fill out your bracket come next spring, right?
I don’t know, I’ve always been a more of a college hoops fan than an NBA guy myself. But this year especially, I feel like Mike Krzyzewski should be molding the minds of youngsters instead of those of multimillion dollar-making NBA superstars, creating an all-college, all-amateur squad to which fans could relate.
Plus, NBA players are bound by contacts, of course. They play 82 regular season games and in some cases, numerous subsequent postseason affairs. The Celtics suited up 105 times in all this past season. Do they really need any more basketball? If I’m Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak, I don’t want Kobe Bryant playing in China this summer, for risk of injury or simply for fear of fatigue.
I admit, it will be fun to watch the league’s best come together to take on the world. But imagine Tyler Hansbrough out there. Imagine the intensity of March Madness overflowing into the international games.
Professional athletes don’t belong in the Olympics. It should be amateurs only, like the Ancient Greeks intended.
There’s something to be said about rooting for amateurs and not money-hungry pros. I’ve seen enough of Kobe, LeBron, and Melo of late. Let the kids play and improve their games on the international stage.
Do you believe in miracles?
I wish I still could.