I know that I’m supposed to be inspired when I watch athletes from across the globe who are currently competing in the Beijing Olympics. And, this year, there have been occasions when I genuinely have been inspired, such as during the Opening Ceremonies. Loved the artistry, the intricacy and enormous amount of work that undoubtedly went into a show-stopper of a performance (that was before I learned about the Chinese/Milli Vanilli move  with the lip-synching little girl). Adored rooting for the come-from-behind U.S. men’s 4 X 100 relay victory, particularly after the French team unwisely vowed to crush them. And I was likewise cheering during the U.S. women’s (girl’s, if we’re being honest) All-Around gymnastics gold-silver triumphs.
About half-way into the summer Olympics, I’ve watched volleyball (beach and indoor), basketball (men’s and women’s), soccer (women’s), gymnastics (men’s and women’s), swimming (men’s and women’s) and bits here and there of the weight-lifting, enough to feel sympathy pains in my lower back. And we haven’t even gotten to the track and field events, or diving in earnest yet.
There’s an awesome group of women competing for medals who are moms of small people , notably the 41-year-old swimmer Dana Torres , the mom of a toddler with the killer bod (the killer bod belongs to Mom, not the kid). Yes, it is indeed amazing to watch these women compete at the highest levels of their sport despite the fact that they have very young children .(As I write this, I’m sucking in my gut and loose skin around my mid-section that I acquired after being pregnant with twins. Not everyone can “pop” back like fellow twins mom J.Lo. you know. Not everyone’s a Dana Torres. Some of us have jobs that don’t hinge on our physiques and 8-hour/day gym routines . . . but I digress.)
However amidst all the pageantry, the role models, the super-tight athletic attire on all the Olympians and the World Records falling faster than the president’s poll numbers, something’s been bugging me about the Olympics this year that I can’t quite put my finger on. It just doesn’t have the same feel to me as the 2004 games.
Maybe it’s the fact that the broadcasts have been saturated in Michael Phelps hype . (Will someone please tell that guy to pull up his swimsuit? I have a running bet with my husband that, in Phelps’ exuberance at becoming the most golden-decorated Olympian ever to trod the planet, Phelps’ nether regions will be accidentally exposed . . . but maybe that’s what NBC execs are hoping for in order to further goose the blockbuster ratings.) I get it that Phelps’ accomplishments are historic. But seriously people, I’ve come down with Phelps fatigue. I am uninterested in hearing every trivial fact about this guy, no matter how many gold medals he wins. I don’t care that he eats 12,000 calories a day . I don’t want to know every little thing about his mom , no matter how magnificent she may be. I don’t want updates in the corner of my TV screen telling me when the next Phelps story will air about how his childhood dog inspired him to swim by leaping off the deck at a lake one summer. (Okay, I made that last one up, but 12,000 calories/day? I AM interested in what he’ll look like in 15 years.)
Or maybe I’m not feeling that rally-round-the-flag goodness because there’s a 12-hour time delay from Beijing. When I’m online, it’s impossible to avoid having the results of a particular event “spoiled” because they’re all over the internet well before NBC slickly packages the events and airs them on TV.
But, aside from that men’s relay swimming gold-winning performance  – which included Phelps – and watching Shawn Johnson’s spunky floor routine in the All-Around , I’ve found myself surprisingly unmoved, which is unusual for this saccharine, sentimental gal who’s instead tearing up at the ads, particularly the Coke one  featuring the Sia song and the mix of Special and garden variety Olympians. Maybe it’s that I feel as though I’ve been force-fed Olympic hype (and I haven’t even been watching the Today Show) while the media seem to be treating athletes like Phelps and Torres as commodities rather than simply stellar athletes.
That nationalistic pride, that feeling you get when you see your countrymen and women – even those as old as you and who, like you, have kids at home – overcome obstacles to make it to the international stage, when it comes to this year’s games, they just aren’t doing it for me, the one who cries at most sentimental sports flicks and the mere mention of the 2004 World Series. Perhaps things will change once we get to the track and field portion and I’ll finally begin to exuberantly embrace the quadrennial athletic celebration. Or maybe I’ll just be cheering the beginning of the Fall TV season.