There Was A Memorial To Terrorist Victims in the Opening Ceremony?

Shame on you, NBC.

Unbeknownst to American viewers, the London 2012 Opening Ceremony included a performance in memorial of the 7/7 terrorist attack victims, killed the day after London won the Olympics back in 2005. When asked why they edited it out of the broadcast, NBC said that they did so because "it wasn't about America."

Because all Americans care about are ourselves, obviously.

I just happened to stumble across it when I was watching a recording of the ceremony from British TV online the next day, and I think it's absolutely beautiful. Deadspin posted it, and I strongly suggest everyone watch it. Death is death, no matter what nationality you are.

[On a less serious note, I just registered my blog with Bloglovin, so please follow me if you have an account!]

Thoughts On The Opening Ceremony, By A Ceremony Volunteer

Ya know that feeling when you've been keeping something a secret for three months and then finally it's broadcast on TV for millions upon millions of people to see and you just want to curl up into a ball and cry over its perfection?

It's an odd sort of feeling. Not only did I get to see the growth and development of the opening ceremony, but I've lived with knowledge of it and invested in it. I've become protective, and if you say something negative about my baby I have to stifle the urge to ram your words back down your throat.

What I think is really interesting that the only criticisms I've seen from people I follow on Twitter are about things they don't understand. My personal favorite is, "So these completely irrelevant people are going to light the cauldron?" Oh sweetie, stop talking. But I'll get back around to the cauldron-lighting later.

When the media released that the beginning of the ceremony would, in essence, be a field, I was secretly thrilled. I do enjoy keeping a great secret and knowing things that other people don't, so as the Brits worked themselves into a tizzy about how awful this ceremony was going to be, I got to enjoy the knowledge that the field would be stripped away in a matter of 15 minutes and be overtaken by seven chimneys that rise out of the ground. I'll never forget seeing that pre-vis for the first time; my goosebumps had goosebumps. I knew that if the ceremony could be as good as I imagined it could be, there wouldn't have to be any concerns about being overshadowed by Beijing.

Danny Boyle said that the spectacle of Beijing took the pressure off of him and allowed him to go and do his own thing. In doing so, I think he both allowed London's ceremony to completely stand in its own category, as well as gave Beijing a run for its money. Beijing went for sheer scale in terms of people; London went for sheer scale in terms of scenery. Beijing had a man run around the top of the stadium and light the cauldron; London's cauldron was lit on the ground. Beijing went for awe; London went for fun. Both absolutely amazing, yet completely different.

All of the criticisms I saw were from Americans, so maybe it's the five months of British in me, or maybe it's the fact that I got to personally hear Danny Boyle talk about his vision, but I absolutely loved everything. There were so many different feelings and moods conveyed, from the serene to the serious, but never did you get the feeling that it was taking itself too seriously. Beijing was always mildly terrifying and intimidating, but even as smokestacks were rising from the ground I didn't get the feeling that London was trying to do anything but impress us and tell its history.

And please, tell me that the forging of the giant Olympic rings wasn't the coolest thing you've ever seen.

After that, it was just plain fun. Dancing nurses and kids jumping on beds and GIANT VOLDEMORT! A four-decade retrospective of British music with crazy costumes! Mr. Bean! It was a party of awesome British things.

But then, of course, there was a great measure of poignancy. NBC decided to be awful and cut a memorial dance for the people killed in the 7/7 terrorist attack mere days after London was awarded the Olympics. I watched it online and it was absolutely beautiful. I'd also never been brought to tears by a torch relay and cauldron lighting before, but I LOVED what London did. At first I was a little bit confused, but when those kids hugged their aging mentors, who handed each of them a torch and watched them light the cauldron in front of over 200 former Olympians... Oh my gosh. Talk about symbolism. They were literally passing the torch. London's shtick has been that this is the Olympics for the young generation, and having the cauldron lit by young, up-and-coming athletes was emotional and significant and flawlessly appropriate. And the cauldron was comprised of petals, one carried out by each nation as its athletes marched, so each nation has a part in the cauldron. Amazing.

I couldn't be prouder to have my name in the program of this amazing ceremony, and I will be eagerly awaiting the DVD!

Opening Ceremony Secrets

I'll just lay it out there: the Opening Ceremony was awesome. I'll do a more in depth post on my thoughts and such tomorrow, but for now that's all that needs to be said. Completely and utterly awesome.

While it's kind of sad that it's over, I'm completely STOKED that I can now talk about some things! My master posts about my whole experience are going to be saved until after the closing ceremony, but I do have some fun stories about opening to share! This is the stuff that nobody thinks about, or knows about, and I hope it puts the ceremony in the context of a sprawling saga and not just a one-night event.

Here we go!

1. I happened to be at the first rehearsal for the drummers in the Industrial Revolution segment -- or some of them, at least. A few other volunteers and I were sorting bibs outside the studio they were learning their rhythms, and it was the coolest thing ever. They learned it to a sentence! "Bang the drum - so your mum - can see - you on TV." They learned it fragment by fragment, so at first I was like, "the heck are they doing? This doesn't sound familiar." ...But then suddenly it was the right rhythm (that we knew from the pre-vis, explained in #7)!

2. Speaking of the drummers, the callback auditions were the first time the drums were brought out. And by "drums" I mean "buckets." If you saw the ceremony, you can see that that's basically what the drums were; buckets hung around the performers' necks. So when the choreographers were telling people not to say anything to anyone about what they did, they deadpanned, "Guys, what are you going to tell people? That we banged on buckets?"

3. I was there when Danny Boyle told a group of kids in the NHS segment that there'd be a giant Voldemort chasing them. I'm pretty sure I freaked out harder than they did.

4. At the very end of the ceremony, there were supposed to be BMX bikers with the dove cyclists, but they were cut recently. I was gutted when I found out. I was the lone volunteer designated to help out with their rehearsals two Saturdays in a row, and they were so talented and wonderful! I was mildly warned about them and, while they were a little bit rowdy (boys will be boys), they caused absolutely zero problems. They were so easygoing about everything except the safety of their course -- I'd gotten more attitude from willowy dancers than I got from these tattooed, pierced, dreadlocked men.

5. Performers started getting fitted for their costumes and receiving them when rehearsals were out at Dagenham, which is in zone five and is not a heavily traveled area. The Industrial Revolution members started getting theirs first and slowly started wearing them to rehearsals, showing up in those drab, artistically dirty jumpsuits. Please, if you will, imagine hundreds and hundreds of people wearing Industrial Revolution garb clogging up the tube and flocking to a random, quiet London suburb. I never saw it get to this point, but even two or three people wearing matching, ugly jumpsuits in one tube car is enough to get some odd looks and amuse the hell out of me!

6. London 2012 Ceremonies was required to provide lunch and snacks for the kids when they came in for rehearsal. So guess who got to take advantage of the leftovers! Awwww yeahhh. :)

7. When each group of performers came to their first rehearsal, they obviously had to be given some idea of what they'd be doing and where that fit in the scheme of the ceremony. This is where the pre-vis videos came in. They're basically animations of what the segment would look like, made of graphics and clips from the internet and clips of choreography, designed to communicate the overall feel of the segment. Because there were SO many Industrial Revolution performers, there were tons of groups of them, which meant their pre-vis got shown for each of them. It showed Fields of Plenty and the following transition; I must've seen it at least five times (by choice), and got goosebumps each time without fail.

8. Speaking of, each time before the Industrial Revolution pre-vis would air, Danny Boyle would say, "Oh, by the way, your segment is called Pandemonium." He would then scurry to the side of the room as the performers laughed nervously and exchanged awkward glances with each other at the fact that they'd have to tackle a task called Pandemonium. I liked this "oh god help me" reaction moment almost as much as I liked the pre-vis!

9. Wondering how Fields of Plenty was organized? Each area was given the name of a county! "Okay, such-and-such county, please go return your bibs."

10. When rehearsals moved to Dagenham, piping the music over speakers loud enough for it to be heard for miles around started seeming like a bad idea. Performers were given ear pieces so each person had music piped directly to them. Ingenious, but absolutely bizarre to see a mass of people running around and pushing beds in complete silence!

11. Between the end of April and the beginning of June, I saw rehearsals for the 1970s Thanks Tim group, NHS, Fields of Plenty (I got to closely observe the football match), the drummers, Industrial Revolution (about a million times), and the professional dancers for the Thanks Tim "now" segment. There might be more that I'm forgetting, but those segments during the ceremony last night had my highest concentrations of flail.

That's all I can give you right now. But tune in after the closing ceremony to hear the deets on closing, my experience in general, and how I got on a first-name basis with Danny Boyle. True story.

What's The Weather Like In London?

Because I need to know what to pack.


For those of you that don't know, I've kind of been suffering in silence for the past few months. My plans to go to the Olympics fell apart altogether in early June, and I've been scrambling to put them back together ever since. I couldn't find a place to stay, and I imagined flight prices skyrocketing, and I'd all but given up.

But on Monday, I was offered a place to stay. Mere hours later, I was offered ANOTHER place to stay. On Tuesday, I checked flight prices and found them wonderfully, gloriously still within my budget. And today, I purchased tickets.


I still don't know if I'll get to go to the event Chandini and I got tickets for, since she's not going and they were purchased in her name. However, the women's marathon, both triathlons, and men's race walk, which are ticketless road events, are occurring while I'm there. So I'll be able to put my waiting-on-the-street skills to use and see some Olympics! Would it be obnoxious to bring a giant American flag? Yeah, probably. AND, if all goes as planned I'll be able to visit the ceremonies rehearsal venue at Dagenham, which is still holding closing ceremony rehearsals! I may not have a visa to be able to work, but my pass and vest still get me into the site... as do my wonderful coworkers. :)

I'm so excited!! I've wanted to try traveling by myself for a while, and it's kind of funny that this will be how it happens. It's the best possible scenario, though; it's in a city that I know really well, and OLYMPICS! It'll be interesting being an emotional mess all by my lonesome, but I'm hoping that similar-minded strangers won't judge me too harshly. And if they do? Sorry not sorry!

Welcome to the London 2012 Summer Olympic Games!

...But not really.

The opening ceremony hasn't happened yet, which means the Olympic cauldron hasn't been lit, which technically means the games are not officially on. Yet earlier today, the women's soccer tournament began in full force, and the men take to the pitch bright and early tomorrow.

Does this confuse anyone else like it does me? These tournaments are two of the longest running of the games, but the women's tournament ends on August 9th, and the men on the 10th. With the closing ceremony on the 12th, that does leave a couple of days free. So why start early? Couldn't they just end as the games themselves come to a close? There has to be some kind of method to this madness, and I'd be really interested to find out what it is.

BUT I cannot complain about two bonus days of the Olympics! I dragged myself out of bed at 9 am this morning to watch Team USA, only to find out that the game wasn't being aired until 11:30. Thanks a ton for the misinformation, But it's okay, because the American ladies beat France 4-2 and it was awesome. :)

The men's team isn't playing tomorrow, so today's game was such a tease! Guess we'll have to wait until the games begin -- for real -- to deck ourselves out in red, white and blue.

And while you're waiting, you can check out my Olympics preview I wrote for Shades of Sarah!

Opening Ceremony Highlights of the Last 20 Years

1992 - As this was the final year in which both the summer and winter games occurred, there was double the ceremonies! In Barcelona, the cauldron was lit by an archer with a flaming arrow, and in Albertville, there was an aerial ballet performed by dozens of dancers suspended by bungee cords. I told myself I wasn't going to post videos in this timeline, but I couldn't look away!

1994 - Not only were there giant Olympic rings formed entirely by people wearing the appropriate colors, the cauldron of the Lillehammer games was lit after a torch relay that included an in-ceremony ski jump. Seriously.

1996 - Clearly the ceremonies of the '90s were all about doing their cauldron lightings really big, because in Atlanta, Muhammad Ali was the one who had that honor.

1998 - Nagano's opening ceremony featured an iconic performance of Ode to Joy by the Japanese Symphony Orchestra. Some even consider it one of the first flashmobs, as the entire audience -- and choruses and crowds watching live around the world -- chimed in in unison.

2000 - Not only did Sydney's ceremony feature a giant banner screaming "G'DAY!" but there was also an underwater sequence featuring intense blue lights and gigantic sea creatures.

2002 - Okay, call me biased, but I think the fact that the 1980 gold medal men's hockey team lit the cauldron is basically the coolest thing ever. EVER.


2004 - The Athens ceremony created one of the most iconic images of the Olympic rings ever, as they burst into flame in the middle of a lake in the stadium. There was also a living timeline of Greek history; the ceremony was simple, but very classy and appropriate for the games held in the birthplace of the Olympics.

2006 - Holy mass choreography, Batman! Torino delivered like a pro. There was a beating heart and a ski jumper that simulated the movement of a jump, made entirely of people. Mind = blown. There were also speed skaters with flames coming out of their helmets and a race car that did donuts in the middle of the field of play. Viva Italia!

2008 - What can be said about Beijing that hasn't already been said a million times? It was part awe inspiring and part terrifying, changed the game, raised the bar... I'm sure you've heard them all. While all of it was fantastic, I think the drummers will always take the cake, at least in my mind!

2010 - Vancouver did some absolutely amazing things with lights! The audience sparkled the entire time, and somehow they made the floor of the stadium look like water with whales swimming through it, complete with spray from blowholes.

2012 - TBA. ;)

Just Leaving This Here For All the Haters!


There was an Opening Ceremony dress rehearsal tonight.

I searched for reactions on Twitter.

This is what I found.

I would just like to say that I TOLD YOU SO. Beijing eat your heart out and Danny Boyle makes me proud to be British do rather speak for themselves, don't they?

I'm so happy right now. Like, obnoxiously, deliriously, borderline-in-tears happy. Hundreds and thousands of people have poured their hearts and souls into this show for years, and I'm just so unspeakably grateful and thrilled and proud that it's as fabulous as it should be. To say that I can't wait to see the final product would be a massive understatement.


London 1948

London is the first city ever to host the Olympics three times; 1908, 1948, and now 2012. Our collective Olympics memories tend not to go much further back than the '70s -- with the exception of Jesse Owens and Berlin 1936 -- but there are a handful of medalists from 1948 that are still with us today as the Olympics return to the site of their past triumphs. I just stumbled across an amazing story on TIME LightBox about those games and some of the surviving medalists.

Maybe it's because of my American naivete, but I generally don't think of the massive fallout of World War II. It obviously changed the world forever, but because it took place half a world away, we didn't have to deal with any of the physical destruction of our cities. And it actually helped us get out of the Great Depression. In Europe, however, cities were destroyed and economies were completely shot. London was a completely different world back then; no new venues were built, courses were too short, competitions were held in the dark without stadium lighting, and the athletes' village was converted from an army convalescent camp.

Insane, especially when you think about how the budget for the 2012 Opening Ceremony -- just the single ceremony! -- is over 80 million pounds.

The story accompanied a slideshow of recent photos of the medalists, which I think are really poignant.

Michael Clement LaPage, British rower and silver medalist. 88 years old.

Thomas Godwin, British cyclist and double bronze medalist. 91 years old.

Dr. Samuel Lee, American platform diver and back-to-back gold medalist. 91 years old.

David Bond, British sailor and gold medalist. 90 years old.

I'd definitely recommend heading over there, reading the story and checking out the rest of the photos. There are some really great little anecdotes from the athletes, and it makes you wonder whose portraits we're going to be getting sentimental over in 64 years.

Remembering the Munich Massacre

There's been some controversy (what else is new?) lately as the IOC debated over whether or not to include a moment of silence during the opening ceremony to honor the 40th anniversary of the Munich massacre. Eleven Israeli athletes and coaches were held hostage and killed by Palestinian terrorists in what has to have been the worst act of its kind that ever occurred at the Olympics. I myself have seen multiple links to petitions in favor of this moment of silence.

However, IOC President Jacques Rogge has announced that there will be no moment of silence because, "“We feel that the Opening Ceremony is an atmosphere that is not fit to remember such a tragic incident."

As both a Jew and a bit of an Olympics purist, I can argue vehemently for both sides. I don't even know if being Jewish has much to do with it at all, but there's a part of me that's absolutely appalled. Yes, the opening ceremony is supposed to be a great celebratory event, welcoming the world to the Olympics and all that. And yes, bringing down the mood isn't an ideal situation. But the kidnapping and killing of almost an entire Olympic team wasn't exactly an ideal situation either, now, was it? At Vancouver in 2010, an athlete died in a training run on the day of the opening ceremony, and they consented to bring down the mood enough to give him a moment of silence. Granted, that death was fresh, but the Munich massacre was a horrifying and despicable act of humanity. Even back in '72, the Games were only shut down for a day. Again, that's understandable, but it feels like this incident is being all but swept under the rug.

On the other hand, the Olympics are not about stuff like this. Politics are, for all intents and purposes, kept out of the matter entirely. The fact that this happened at an Olympics shouldn't make a difference. Making any kind of gesture in support of the Israeli athletes might have huge consequences with the competing Arab nations and incite more violence from Palestinian terrorist groups. We really have no way of knowing.

Is there a winning solution in this kind of situation? I would say that there could be some kind of memorial set up so the ceremonies aren't involved at all, but all that would be is a magnet for conflict. It could be defaced or destroyed or even become a target, a site of more violence. Would it be worth it?

Honestly, I think I support the IOC's decision. Showing that kind of support for one side of a political situation could do a lot of harm, and holding a separate ceremony in Germany on the anniversary of the event is a very appropriate solution. I just cannot -- cannot -- agree with Rogge's statement.

Opening Ceremony Behind the Scenes SNEAK PEEK!

The official London 2012 YouTube account has posted a preview of behind the scenes footage of the opening ceremony! Pardon me while I go grab a paper bag to breathe into.

There's also a Ceremonies Explorer website at There's not really much posted there at the moment, but I'm hoping for some nuggets as we get closer!

Seven days left!

How To Prepare For The London 2012 Opening Ceremony

1. Stock up on gear to represent your country. Not sure what country to support? Team USA is a failsafe answer. Still not sure what country to support? Think harder about Team USA. But if you still can't decide... I've got nothing for you.

2. Make a playlist of the Olympic theme, The Who's "London Calling," and any other songs with the word London in it. Play on a loop.

3. Paint your nails in one or more of the London 2012 colors! Purple, orange, hot pink, teal, yellow. Awwww yeah.

4. Blast British music. Prepare to shriek "OH MY GOD I listened to that song like yesterday!" when you hear it during the ceremony and annoy everyone around you.

5. Watch Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours, and/or Trainspotting. Bask in Danny Boyle's genius.

6. Practice your British accent, drink tea, and eat fish & chips. Mourn the fact that pub culture isn't an American thing and enjoy a pint somewhere else.

7. Read British books. Harry Potter would most definitely suffice.

8. Watch the Beijing Opening Ceremony so you know what NOT to expect to see.

Happy eight days and counting!

More Americans Trying to Speak Cockney

It's only fair that this is so bad, since the British imitation of all American accents is "liiiiiiiiike, oh my GOD!"

Also, the countdown to London 2012 is officially in single digits. Excuse me as I curl into the fetal position and cry a little bit. EEEEKK!

Rant of the Week: Lay Off the Uniforms

Team USA's Opening Ceremony uniforms were recently released to the media, and I don't think I've heard anyone say a single positive thing about them.

The general consensus seems to be;
1. "OMG they're hideous they're preppy they do not say America and AAAGGHHH BERETS! THE HORROR!"
2. "They're made in China. They should be BURNED."

Let's start with China, shall we?

I understand what the argument is. Really, I do. I agree that it should be all about supporting Team USA with American-made products because America's economy isn't doing so hot right now. But first of all, Ralph Lauren is an American company. And second, why does it take the Olympics to make people wake up and say, "...hey, wait a second! We can make clothes here! Why are we sending them to China!?!?!?!!" This is not new information, folks. Everything American is made in China.

But if you think America is the only country that's being blasphemous about their uniforms, I'd like to introduce you to Spain, whose uniforms were designed by a Russian company.

And here's New Zealand, whose uniforms were designed by a Czech designer, made of Italian textiles, and manufactured in Turkey, China, and Italy.

The world is a global place. It's unreasonable -- and almost impossible -- to expect nations not to rely on each other.

And hey, Team USA has gotten gear from Roots, which is a Canadian company. Does anybody care about that? Or is this an issue with China? Just something to think about.

Now for the issue of aesthetics. Too preppy for you? Tell that to Australia.

South Korea, anyone?

How about Hong Kong?

Hmm, it seems like preppy is kind of a thing at Olympic ceremonies. Especially during the summer. But if you still need something to make you feel better about what Team USA is going to look like as they enter the stadium, take a look at Team GB.

Germany doesn't even think we can tell the difference between men and women, so they've decided to help us out. Who needs the colors of their nation's flag on their uniforms, anyway?

And Russia just loves their... whatever that pattern is.

See? Team USA is going to look just as bad/preppy/whatever as every other team in that stadium.

"But wait!" you exclaim. "The berets are still atrocious!"

Right. That. Hey, remember the ceremony uniforms from Salt Lake City?




The must-have souvenir of the 2002 Salt Lake Games was a fleece beret, something that athletes wore in the opening ceremony and prompted countless people to spend hours on lines waiting to purchase during those Olympics. [source]

But by all means, let's keep whining about clothes. That's obviously the salient point of the Olympics.

[info and photos of 2012 uniforms from mental_floss]

Memory Monday: Snuffing the Candle of Athens

My memory is full of little, unimportant things that just happen to have stuck with me. My toddler-aged brother matter-of-factly opening up a book upside down; nearly ever line from those old Snickers Cruncher commercials; pretending to ice skate on my grandparents' white tile floor. Things that are absolutely and completely unimportant, yet for some reason niggled their way permanently into my brain.

The end of the Athens 2004 Closing Ceremony is one of them. I can tell you nothing about the ceremonies from Torino, precious little about Vancouver, and a couple of nuggets about Beijing, but my first ceremony memory is one that I'm still trying to make sense of why I remember. It wasn't particularly big, or grand, or theatrical, and there were no special effects involved. I do think I correctly called what was about to happen just before it did, so maybe that moment of "HEY, I'm awesome!" burned the rest of it into my mind. I don't know. But what I do know is that a little girl put out the Olympic cauldron like she was blowing out a giant candle.

It's definitely really cool, but why do I remember this over some of the amazing audience participation from Vancouver?

I have no answer for you.

But when I told Steve Boyd, ceremony mass movement coordinator extraordinaire, about my recollection, he responded that he thought it was interesting. So many people work so hard to put on these ceremonies, and you wonder what people take away from them. So here I am, eight years later, still talking about Athens' closing. I guess someone must've done something right!

Now, as a part of the London ceremonies, this point becomes even more intriguing. I've already seen mock-ups of what the ceremonies are going to look like, and I have a pretty good idea of which parts are going to stick with me. Then again, maybe there'll be the equivalent of this little girl, and I'll still be puzzling over some random moment when I'm writing about the 2020 games.

It's really exciting to think about all the rehearsals I've seen and wonder if any of those groups will become my memory of watching the London 2012 ceremonies. Or -- even better -- someone else's memory.

In Boyle We Trust

Here's some more about the Opening Ceremony, in Danny Boyle's own words.

I'm sorry, I don't know how people continue to doubt him. Storytelling, wit, language, emotion. I mean, sounds good to me!

Women Watching Sports

I just stumbled across an interesting story on The Post Game that talks about women's interest in watching sports. The research that has been done has found that, while women are flocking to the playing field, televised sports are still primarily a man's domain. Women tend to watch sports to "maintain relationships" rather than because they actually enjoy them, and watch the Olympics in much higher numbers -- especially sports that "showcase the femininity and grace of the athletes."

Ladies, what do we make of this?

I'm all for girls to watch football in solidarity with their men, but to think that something's wrong when we find ourselves riveted to the World Cup? Not okay.

I have to wonder how much of this comes from societal pressure. Girls are "supposed" to be feminine and graceful, which makes it more understood if we drool over sports like figure skating and gymnastics. To an outsider, these sports look like pretty, waif-like girls twirling around in pretty costumes. Because that's what girls are supposed to do, right? It'd be weirder to idolize, say, a 250-pound female weightlifter. And clearly women ARE watching more "masculine" sports, like the woman who said she got sucked into the World Cup. But then she said there was something wrong with that. First of all, why is there something wrong with that? And second, if she likes soccer, why is society telling her not to?

There are (and have been) so many amazing female athletes in "non feminine" sports. Hope Solo, Mia Hamm, Jennie Finch, Lolo Jones, Florence Griffith-Joyner, Jackie Joyner Kersee, Misty May Treanor... all beautiful AND complete rockstars in their sport. And hey, guess what! There's absolutely no twirling in short skirts involved in any of them. These girls are built, but can still rock a sequined dress with the best of them.

This isn't meant to take anything away from figure skating or gymnastics, though. As someone who used to take ice skating lessons, I can tell you that these sports are no joke whatsoever, and those girls are sick athletes to be able to do what they do.

I'm also a little bit offended at the fact that this research says women might watch the Olympics more avidly because there's no need to follow the "complexities of major league sports." Um, ouch? It's not that difficult. Find a sport you like, find a team to root for, and... that's it. Really, it's not a soap opera. There are no missed storylines. Figure out the rivalries and you're good to go.

The Olympics only come around every four years, so yes, there's more demand involved. But to say that it's easier for women to get invested in an athlete that's on TV for only two and a half weeks just should not be true. While I have my handful of Olympians that I adore, I'm far more attached to some of the guys on the Mets, who are on TV nearly every day. Most TV shows are on once a week, and women have no trouble following those; shouldn't following the "characters" in a sport be a piece of cake?

Simply not enjoying a certain sport (or all sports, for that matter) is totally fine. I'm not saying all women should give watching football a go. I just think that, if you like a sport, there's no reason to not watch it.

Oh, gotta run, the WWE is on.

Links I Love

A very interesting slideshow about Olympic Attire Through the Ages. Spoiler alert: I'm especially diggin' slide #9.

The Team USA YouTube account posted four awesome gold medal moments today! Dick Fosbury, Mary Lou Retton, Jesse Owens, and Shawn Johnson. All are definitely worth a watch.

The Olympics Waiting Game, for those of you who want to twiddle your thumbs. Literally.

My future alma mater is awesome, and there are Five Hurricanes Headed to Olympics.

I'm partial to Miracle and the Winter Olympics myself, but the NY Times Olympics blog posted a list of   The Best Summer Olympics Movies (With A Few Asterisks).

Olympics 2012 in Numbers, an awesome animation with facts about the upcoming London Games.

Two fabulous stories on what it was like to audition for the London 2012 ceremonies, The Confessions of an Olympic Opening Ceremony Performer and The Day I Danced for a Place in Danny Boyle's Olympics Spectacular. It's highly possible that I was at one or both of these auditions... and I still know the dance routine to Beyonce's "Love on Top" after five months. Yikes.

My Olympics Bucket List

1. Attend an Opening Ceremony. If nothing else, this one HAS to happen. I think I will be able to die happy if/when it does. It's what I look forward to every two years, more so than the two and a half weeks of competition that follow. I don't care if I get the worst seats in the house and pay hundreds of dollars for them. I AM going to an Opening Ceremony one day.

2. Live to see the Olympics return to America. This is entirely beyond my control, of course. But the last time the Games were on US soil was in 2002. Before that, 1996. And before that, 1984 and 1980. So now it's been ten years, and the USOC just recently announced that they won't bid for the 2022 Games. Now the earliest we can hope for is 2024. I'll be well on my way to my mid-thirties and from where I'm sitting, that seems like a lifetime away. But if that's what we've got to work with, let's make it happen, people!

3. Work for another Olympics. I know I've been pretty focused on working for the USOC, but now that I've volunteered for London 2012, a whole new world has been opened up to me. While I love cheering for Team USA, there's something really great about coming together with a group of people and just rooting for the Olympics. The Italians would be rooting for the Italian team, the Americans for the American team, the Canadians for the Canadian team, and the Brits for Team GB, but when it came down to it we were prouder to wear London 2012 gear. And that was awesome. It'd be an absolute dream to get to travel to another country, live there for a year or so, and be a part of another Games. Hey, it's why I'm starting to teach myself Russian. Sochi 2014 or bust!

4. Work for the USOC. While this dream now has an alternative, it has in no way disappeared. I can't even imagine how proud I'd be to put on a Team USA shirt and know I'm a part of it.

5. Meet one of the figure skaters from back in the day. Kristi Yamaguchi, Scott Hamilton, Kurt Browning, Brian Boitano, Michelle Kwan, Sarah Hughes... I'd take any of 'em. I had the typical little girl dream of being an Olympic figure skater, and I watched pro figure skating like there was no tomorrow. That crowd of pros had such a huge role in my life and it'd be amazing to tell them that!

6. Take a picture with Apolo Ohno. Because I really should be in a photo with my future husband before we get married.

The World Keeps Spinnin'...

The closer we get to the Olympics and the further we get from the time I spent with London 2012 Ceremonies, the urge to talk about it becoming almost irresistible. But if the Olympics are telling me to keep a secret than I am going to keep that secret come hell or high water! They're not stopping me from trying to describe the atmosphere, though, and no one single entity translates the atmosphere during ceremony auditions than this song.

There was a montage set to it that was played on a loop, so imagine sitting through three-hour shifts with this playing constantly. Annoying, right?


I think it's a major testament to how happy and excited I was to be there that I was never once annoyed with the montage, even bopped along to it and missed it when I was stationed at a booth far away from the speakers. All it takes is the first few notes of this song and I'm taken right back to booth #1, wearing snow boots and a highlighter yellow high-vis vest, with numb fingers and a permanent smile.

It's pretty cool that my memories of the greatest job ever have a soundtrack!

Rant of the Week: The Olympics and Politics

Mixing sport and politics is a huge stinker of an issue. There are some stalwarts that believe that the Olympics should remain free of them, but aren't those keeping athletes out of the Olympics because of their politics acting on politics? Kinda makes your head hurt, doesn't it?

I've spent the last day or so reading The John Carlos Story. If you don't remember my earlier post, John Carlos is one of the men that participated in the infamous black power salute in 1968. It was really interesting to read about his motivations, what got him to that point, and what happened in the aftermath. But even more than that, it got me thinking about boycotts.

There was a big movement among black athletes to boycott the '68 Games, but with the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the exclusion of apartheid South Africa, the wind was taken out of its sails. America's black athletes arrived in Mexico with a pact to each do their own thing and to have each others' backs if/when they did. Smith and Carlos did their thing, and their stand is an image that has been burned into our collective memory. It may not have accomplished much right off the bat, but it invited the world to see that America wasn't as all-inclusive as everyone believed it to be. I don't think it's a reach to say that it went a long way in instigating change.

Now, would a boycott have done the same?

The US and a good chunk of other nations boycotted the Moscow Games in 1980. The Soviet Union then reciprocated, along with their own chunk of nations, at the LA Games in 1984. These were the two biggest boycotts in history, and what did they accomplish? Does anyone even remember them? I only know about them because this is the stuff I research, as opposed to the black power image, which I'm pretty sure is printed in textbooks.

Carlos was talking about how he happily would've given up his place on the Olympic team, despite it having been his dream since he was a child, because a boycott would've made waves. And yeah, maybe some people would've scratched their heads and wondered why America's delegation was mostly (if not entirely) white. Yeah, maybe some extremely perceptive and tenacious people would look into this problem of racism. But there were 5,530 athletes competing at these Games. I have no idea how many athletes were planning on boycotting, but let's say 100. Would anyone have noticed their absence?

(Click to enlarge.)

The Olympics are so massive that, honestly, I don't think that any conceivable boycott could make a difference or have any true significant impact. Especially now, people are content to shrug things off without much thought. Out of sight, out of mind. Nowadays, about 200 nations compete. Tell me, would you notice if it was 175 instead? There would still be thousands of people swarming around the field of play during the ceremonies, right? Nobody would miss a couple hundred, let alone a handful of black athletes during an extremely racist time.

What Smith and Carlos (and, let's be honest, Peter Norman as well) did that day, in my mind, made far more of an impact that any boycott ever could. All eyes are on the athletes when they're on the podium, so it would be impossible to ignore a statement made here. If you want people to pay attention to your cause, you have to force them to see it, and that's what they did. It may not've been their first choice of a course of action, but Carlos himself wrote that he never could've dreamed how iconic that image has become.

...Wait, the US boycotted the Moscow Games in 1980? Oh yeah. Totally forgot.

This is not me advocating political protests at the Olympics. Far from it. I'm the first person to argue that the Olympics should be a place free from protest and politics and all that crap that plagues day to day life. This is me saying that the idea of boycotts makes me roll my eyes. If you're trying to make a statement, actually saying something certainly helps. A pair of black gloves is far more memorable than the proverbial silence.