Posts Tagged ‘Olympics’

Let the Games begin

Posted: February 5, 2014 by shawnfury in Uncategorized
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These might already be the strangest Winter Olympics and they haven’t actually started. Just think how crazy things will get when a bobsled controversy erupts.

The selection of Sochi started the strangeness as no one understood how a small resort area could land the Games, though everyone simply assumed it had to do with bribes, vodka and blackmail. In the weeks leading up to the Olympics stories emerged about how ill-prepared Sochi and Russia were for the influx of athletes, fans and media. And now that those fans, media and athletes have actually arrived, all of the worst-case scenarios appear to be coming true. Journalists have already written about hotels that don’t have running water, venues covered in tarps and roving bands of stray dogs that are looking to feed off humans.

And hanging over everything is the fear of terrorism. Various groups have vowed to strike and many families of athletes chose to stay home. With a sense of dread, I can already picture the breaking news banner on CNN or NBC announcing that something terrible has happened, followed by explanations about black widows and civil war. The best-case scenario is people get affected by various housing or transportation fiascoes. The worst case is almost too difficult to think about, though our imaginations can do just that. Still…people will watch. I’ll watch. I remain a sucker for the Olympics, a wide-eyed sucker who is fully aware of the horrific corruption in the IOC and the host countries and the drugs and the jingoism and everything else.


Technical difficulties at headquarters prevented a new post so we had the crack research staff dig through the archives room. I caught a few minutes of the USA-Mexico soccer battle Tuesday so this piece from November 2011 felt relevant.

Where were you when Tiger Woods clinched the President’s Cup for the United States with a great bunker shot? I hope you watched it live on the Golf Channel and didn’t wait for the Sunday replay on NBC. That’s what true Americans did.

I actually pulled for the U.S. to defeat the hated International squad, my love of this great country rising every time the camera zoomed in on the smarmy Greg Norman, captain of the opposing squad.


Wrestling with extinction

Posted: February 20, 2013 by shawnfury in Uncategorized
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There was a time — when I was younger, skinnier, more mulleted — when I might have snickered at the news that the IOC is dropping wrestling from the Olympics. This was back in high school, when basketball players engaged in a sort-of rivalry with wrestlers. It never involved fisticuffs or takedowns. In fact it had cooled a bit from a few years earlier.

The beef? Hard to remember the fine details, but it basically centered on each sport’s athletes believing they worked harder than the other group. Or maybe it was about the relative difficulty of each sport, figuring out which required more skills and smarts. I’m sure we ridiculed wrestlers for participating in a boring sport — what’s the fun in watching two guys roll around for six minutes — and they likely mocked any idea that basketball was physically taxing. We made fun of them during the basketball portion of gym class, when the backboards came under fire with every jumper launched like a cannon out of the wrestlers’ stumpy arms. They tried kicking our ass during the wrestling portion of gym class. And so it went.


October might – might – be the best month in sports. So says Fury. But it’s entirely possible that his opinion has been swayed by landing tickets to a Yankees playoff game this week.

TV isn’t so easily bought. He’d lean more toward March and January is his sleeper. Bowl games, NFL playoffs, NBA games – what’s not to like? For the record, he did try to watch the MLB playoffs the other night, but gave up after failing to crack the cable code. That seems problematic.

Here’s a link to the complete discussion.

Somewhere along the line, the idea that it takes 21 days to form a habit became accepted as conventional wisdom. Frankly, I think that’s a bunch of hooey, rubbish, malarkey and many other phrases from the 1940s. Because the Olympics lasted only 17 days, and their end has me twitching, vomiting and considering checking into a methadone clinic.

OK, so maybe it’s not that bad. But I really did have a moment of, “What the heck am I going to watch tonight” on Monday and Tuesday. In case you were wondering, I settled on High School Musical – Parts I and II. It’s astounding and sad how many of the lyrics are committed to memory. Also, I’ll argue that Zac Efron, whether on a golf course or an empty high school, rivals Kevin Bacon in terms of angry dance aptitude. (Respect.)

I wish I had been keeping track of how many hours I dedicated to the Games, whether watching, reading or discussing. Had to be 5-8 hours a day. Easy. Despite the whole tape-delay controversy. And I can’t think of a single occasion where I felt cheated, the way you might after the inevitable lame episode of your favorite scripted show. (Related note: I’m allowed to enjoy the late-night work of Mary Carillo, right? Right!?) (more…)

This week on the podcast, TV and Fury scratch their insatiable itch for the Olympics by yapping about the ongoing Games.

Topics include: the tape-delay debate, the coolest off-beat events and John McEnroe. Plus, the word “velodrome” is used.

Here’s the link.

So how about those Olympic badminton players, huh?

We’ve had Olympic fever this week at TVFury and next week we’ll have Terry reporting live from London, provided he’s able to sneak into the events without a pass or ticket. (Note: Not sure if Terry’s aware of this plan). On to the links.

* The U.S’s destruction of poor Nigeria in Olympic basketball Thursday had some people calling the Americans bullies (still waiting for someone to say the Dream Team would have won by 90). Adrian Wojnarowski has Coach K defending the team and himself.

* Here’s Dan Wetzel on that badminton scandal, which threatened to tear apart the badminton community. Somewhere, a shuttlecock weeps.

* Some jokesters hacked into the Facebook accounts of several Major League Baseball teams on Thursday night, with the inevitable dirty, occasionally funny results.

* And it’s official: Otters are an unstoppable menace in the state of Minnesota.

* Is there another Penn State-level sports scandal in the works, this time involving U.S. Swimming? That’s what one man is reporting via a web site in Baltimore. It’s an interesting piece because of the allegations and the general style of writing – there’s a sort of preachy introductory graph that you won’t find in traditional news outlets. And because it doesn’t seem to have gained much traction nationally yet. Stay tuned, I guess.

* As you may have heard, many prominent journalists keep a sort of personal blog that’s separate from their work. (Geniuses, those guys.) Jeff Pearlman is one of them, and this week he tackles the subject of young scribe disease in response to former New Yorker writer Johan Lehrer copping to making up quotes. It contains some good lessons for the kids.

I won’t get much sleep tonight. I’ll stay up later than planned, watching the replay of an odd-duck event that originally aired in tape-delayed format. That’s been the case each of the last five nights and will continue for 10-12 more. The Olympics are that captivating.

I love the already popular sports (soccer), the traditional Olympic sports (gymnastics) and the novelty sports (water polo … except for the underwater cam; proof that there is such a thing as too much TV coverage).

But only one sport’s schedule has earned entry into my iPhone calendar: Men’s basketball. Love it. Even watched the exhibition games. I was 13 when the Dream Team took Barcelona by storm, reclaimed the honor of American hoops and started a worldwide basketball movement. That’s part of why I’m so into it: The history and the smaller margin for error. (more…)

For about 10 years I believed I was destined to be an Olympic table tennis player. I envisioned my gold medal showdown against a Chinese competitor and dreamed of standing on the podium while The Star-Spangled Banner played on the loudspeakers. Would I mouth the words while the cameras zoomed in? Yes. Would I cry? No. Perhaps my family would; maybe I would if my agent thought it’d help land endorsements. Janesville would throw a parade for me, or at least make me a grandmaster for the Hay Daze festivities. I’d tour as some type of ping-pong prodigy, taking on all comers in a barnstorming tour across Minnesota — no, across America.

“And now I’ll take on the Iowa state champion…with my left hand!”

This dream started when I was 8 and only ended when I was about 18. What fueled it? My savant-like skills as a young ping-pong player, when I ruled in our basement and also captured a pair of highly prestigious Waseca County titles, each time defeating adult competitors who believed their victories over Grandpa Joe in the garage meant they could beat this 9-year-old phenom. And when I dominated during our table tennis unit in our high school phy ed class — and managed to defeat our previously invincible teacher — then I knew for sure gold was in my future.


Welcome to our weekly links. By the way, I just started watching Game of Thrones, two years after most people discovered it on HBO (it’s okay, I’m always behind the times; it took me until 2010 to watch The Sopranos). The first season’s discs on Netflix now consume my life. So this is a short intro until I get back to the Starks, Lannisters and imps.

* Grantland ran a long piece on South Africa’s history in the Olympics, which, during the apartheid era, was no history at all.

* A sad story about a name from the past. Neil Reed was a scrappy guard for Indiana who was best known for being choked by Bobby Knight, an incident captured on tape. Reed, who became a high school coach, died Thursday at the age 36 of a heart attack.

* Chris Jones – former Fury Files guest – penned a good piece with the guy who sculpted the famous Joe Paterno statue.

* The always entertaining Drew Magary documented his quest to sing the national anthem at a sporting event.

* TV and Fury met while working in Fargo, as in North Dakota, a state that’s blowing up in both and good and bad ways due to an oil boom. Men’s Journal – yes, Men’s Journal – is the latest to chronicle the Wild West atmosphere.

* In other Olympic news, did you know that Adolph Hitler and the Nazis are behind the torch run? Neither did we until reading this piece by Yahoo! Sports. Hope we didn’t ruin your Opening Ceremonies experience.