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THE OLYMPIC SONG HAS ended and we hope the malady doesn't linger on.

With Sydney, Australia being 15 time zones removed, the TV network decided to feed the action to the USA in 24-hour delayed doses. You had to think: They gotta be kidding.

Watching a fabulous athlete like Marion Jones live is stupendous. Watching a tape of the race 24 hours later is no longer thrilling. The suspense is gone. Everyone knows who won and lost.

This incredible piece of wrong thinking took almost all of the excitement out of a gorgeous Olympics and produced embarrassing ratings and a large loss of TV revenue.

One other cause of diminished ratings that everyone appears to have missed: the "bad guys" have vanished.

Remember how the Games used to be looked upon as a conflict between Good (the USA) and Evil (the USSR)? It was absolutely whacky, but it added 100 degrees of heat to the competition.

Every race meant something. Every winner became an instant national hero.

The only whiff of this chauvinistic but heady excitement occurred in baseball, where Tommy Lasorda's semi-pros beat the "invincible" Castro ball club, and in the great sport of Greco-Roman wrestling, where a cute, chubby, 29-year-old country boy from Wyoming beat the "invincible" and awesome Russian heavyweight champion.

This wasn't an upset. It was a miracle. Even the country boy, Rulon Gardner, admitted he never believed he had a chance against Ivan the Terrible.

We understood why after we caught a glimpse of the Russian in a newsreel. We know that if we had been matched against that 300-lb. mountain of picture-perfect muscle, we'd have run to our hotel room, locked the door, and called for the U.S. Marines, though we wouldn't have wanted the Marine Corps to fight him. They'd lose.
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Title Annotation:Olympics 2000 television coverage
Author:Masin, Herman L.
Publication:Coach and Athletic Director
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2000
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