Column: Not the same Games of my youth

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 1, 2006

Jeff Budlong, On the rebound

Apolo Anton Ohno is no Dan Jansen.

Bode Miller is no Picabo Street.

Sasha Cohen isn’t Michelle Kwan, Tara Lipinski or Sarah Hughes.

In what came as a surprise to me the 2006 Olympic Winter Games came to a close over the weekend.

It was a surprise only because for someone who loves to watch sports I watched surprisingly little of the Turin (or Torino or whatever NBC is calling them) Games.

I think the biggest obstacle was time or more precisely the time difference.

Knowing who won what and where this American or that American finished hours before NBC, MSNBC, CNBC, USA or any one of its other networks showed it takes a little fun out of it.

Somehow I think the &8220;Miracle on Ice&8221; would have felt a little different if millions of Americans had known the outcome hours in advance.

Usually I am sports starved on the national level during this time of the year with football wrapped up and college basketball stuck between the end of the season and the promise of the great sports extravaganza that is March Madness.

However, even with little or no sports watching options, I found something other than the Olympics to watch.

I remember tuning in nightly growing up thinking the Olympics were about as good as it could get.

Two weeks of nothing but sports every night on network television.

What a great idea.

Now, I would take the Accenture Match Play Championships any day of the week and twice on Sundays.

NBC has paid so much for the Olympics you end up watching more commercials than competition.

Instead of waiting with anticipation for ice skating I am convinced that the sport is fixed.

Skiing used to be fun to watch until Bode Miller’s mouth fixed that for me, too.

Snowboarding may become the signature event of future winter games, but for right now I am O.K. with not knowing what a 1080 is.

The mantra of this year’s American Olympic athlete seemed to be indifference after not living up to expectations.

Fine, you don’t have to medal to be a success, but just once wouldn’t it be nice to see an athlete who did win gold turn down the millions that come with it in endorsements if a strong showing is truly all they are after.

(We can call this the Joey Cheek rule.)

The Olympics has become too much like professional sports for my liking.

This gathering of amateur athletes has become more of a gold (dollar) rush rather than a drive to be the best.

I have no doubt today’s athletes work just as hard or harder than Olympians of the past but my interest isn’t what it used to be.