I’ve always loved the Olympics.

I wanted to be an Olympian when I was younger. But of course that didn’t happen. My lack of stick-to-it-tiveness instead won out.

John Balentine, a former managing editor for the Lakes Region Weekly, lives in Windham.

But while I’ll never be an Olympian, I enjoy watching all the people who have stuck to their training regimens and catapulted themselves to the Olympic level.

I’ve intently watched every games since 1980, so I’ve seen a lot of these athletes come and go. As a result, I find myself comparing and contrasting the Olympics and Olympians of today with the ones of my youth.

First, I’ve never appreciated how important an audience is until these games.

While sporting event organizers here in America have done well to physically distance crowds so at least some people are able to observe the proceedings, it’s a shame these specially built Olympic venues are going completely fan-less and that no effort is being made to allow any in-person spectators.

I found the lack of an audience especially disturbing during the opening ceremony when marchers were mockingly waving to a non-existent crowd. Without the crowds, who cares? I don’t. As the famous song lyrics go, “Take me out to the ball game, take me out with the crowd,” you can’t have one without the other.

Secondly, what is up with athletes’ lack of humility? I grew up with a family member who was repulsed every time someone spiked a ball in an end zone or otherwise celebrated a little too eagerly, so I’m biased when it comes to judging athletes’ behavior. “Act like you’ve been there before” and “think of your opponent’s feelings” was that family member’s constant cry to gloating and braggadocios athletes.

From gymnast Simone Biles’ G.O.A.T. (Greatest of All Time) leotard embellishment; to over-the-top, in-your-face victory celebrations by nearly every winning athlete; to obnoxious congratulatory slaps on the butt, bear hugs and high-fives given by volleyball teammates after every winning point, it seems humble sportsmanship has gone the way of the dinosaur.

Third, speaking of Simone Biles, it’s funny how she and everyone else thinks she is the Greatest of All Time. I know this moniker is based on her 19 competition medals, but does winning the most actually make her the best?

Just as I don’t think Tom Brady is the G.O.A.T. when it comes to football just because he has the most Super Bowl rings, I don’t think Biles is the greatest gymnast. She’s not the greatest because she’s not the most important. Mary Lou Renner, who inspired a generation of American gymnasts, and Nadia Comaneci, the Romanian who inspired the whole world with her perfect 10, are much more legendary than Biles. Greatness is more than how many wins you rack up, it’s your ability to transcend sport. And, besides, no real G.O.A.T. says he or she is the G.O.A.T.

Fourth, why are these Olympics still being called “Tokyo 2020”? The calendar has flipped over to 2021 and any reference to 2020 is just weird.

Fifth, can the women’s beach volleyball players’ swimsuits get any smaller? I find it funny in this alleged era of #MeToo that female athletes are still allowing their bodies to be used by media executives to bolster TV ratings, as evidenced during NBC’s extensive coverage of beach volleyball on Saturday night.

I understand why suits need to be form-fitting in speed sports such as swimming, cycling and running when billowing uniforms are an aerodynamic drag, but volleyball certainly doesn’t require such material-minimizing measures.

I just wonder why women’s advocates stay quiet while female athletes’ bodies are used as an obvious ploy to attract TV viewers. The women either don’t understand what they’re doing and how it impacts male viewers, don’t care or do it on purpose to sell themselves and their sport to the masses who otherwise wouldn’t care a whit about beach volleyball.

As if that last observation doesn’t reveal it already, the last thing I’ve realized during this Olympics is how truly old and curmudgeonly I’m getting. These Olympians are now half my age, and that’s just a sad fact.

I’m jealous of their youthfulness, energy and self-confidence. But most especially, I’m jealous that they, unlike me, have stuck to their passions and are going for the gold. This deep jealousy probably colors how I see these games, so before I sink further into curmudgeonly critique, maybe I should just sit back and enjoy the fanfare. Or, should I say, fan-less fare.

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