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Commentary: I thought I was being patriotic
by Dan Eckles
Aug 01, 2012 | 2158 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
I got home late Tuesday night after putting the finishing touches on Wednesday morning’s edition of the Tribune to find my wife deeply enthralled with NBC’s coverage of the Olympics.

Usually, she’s fast asleep so I’ve got free reign over the television as I wind down after work. However, with my bride fully engaged in swimming and gymnastics my hopes of getting to watch a program recorded by my DVR — one that would have been very inspirational and educational I’m sure — were quickly dashed.

Upon seeing my frustration, my wife didn’t waste any ammunition. She went straight for the kill shot, firing off at me with “You are not patriotic.” Because obviously my apathy over women’s gymnastics and a myriad of swimming events makes me unpatriotic.

I pointed out that I do work in a newsroom and get up-to-the-minute results on sporting events from across the world, year round and certainly during the Olympics. So watching a swimming event boasting a field of dudes I’ve never heard of where I learned the result eight hours ago, is not the most appealing way to spend my time.

Our domestic disagreement over television viewing rights got me thinking. I’ve long heard that the Olympics are catered to female viewers. There are more personal interest pieces. Story lines that invoke emotion are stressed. You know, stuff women buy into.

Ultimately, I began to ask myself, fellow men are you watching this stuff? Are you watching rowing and skeet shooting and getting your swimming and gymnastics fix at 8 p.m. on a Tuesday night when the Giants (or your favorite MLB team if you’ve got the Extra Innings Package) are in the thick of a playoff race and filling up a channel just a few digits down the dial?

I know I was watching the Dodgers trying to stay in a tie with the Giants atop the NL West Division. That seemed a little more entertaining than watching a few girls dancing on a balance beam. And did you notice how most of the female gymnasts are just teenagers? Is this the Olympics or the Junior Olympics?

If my guess is right, that many men are tuning into an MLB game or SportsCenter, and not the Olympics, than I guess we’ll have to live with being less than patriotic for two weeks. American women can handle waiving the Red, White and Blue for a fortnight.

I do admit I’ll watch more Olympic coverage when the track & field gets going. The tracksters just seem more to me like athletes than ping pong standouts or the badminton contenders. And yet there is still room for those sports in the Olympics. They just aren’t my cup of tea.

When my wife first called me unpatriotic for not watching the Olympics, she put me on the defensive. I didn’t have a chance to formulate my response. All I had to answer was ‘I’ll watch the basketball.’ Apparently, that didn’t rate very high in her book because she came back with the ‘Oh how big of you.’

C’mon cheering on Team USA basketball is patriotic isn’t it?

In 2008, the gold medal game between the USA and Spain was on at midnight on the final day of the games. I stayed up late and watched the whole game, until 2 a.m. That should earn me some patriotic points. It’s the only time I’ve cheered for Kobe Bryant in my life. And he was clutch, making some huge jumpers late in the second half of that win over the Spaniards.

My wife and the rest of you can say my American pride is not up to snuff if you want, but I’m going to watch the events I like and watch something else the rest of the time. I’m not an Olympic sap that will just watch whatever NBC cares to show me eight hours after its conclusion.

Dan Eckles is the Sparks Tribune’s sports editor. He can be reached at deckles@dailysparkstribune.com
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