Climbing Mt. Olympus

Michael Phelps, Olympian
The heat wave might have finally broken, but here in New York, we’re in the grips of Olympic fever. Like our presidential election, the summer Olympics comes only once every four years and we celebrate the occasion much like we do the race to the White House: with our eyes glued to the boob tube, cheering on our favorite American, for Team America.

Unlike the elections, however, no one will try to fight you in a bar if you express your admiration for Michael Phelps—or, more recently, Ryan Lochte—and they happen to be rooting for LeBron James and the Dream Te- … er, basketball team. We’re all in this together: USA! USA! We’re number one! Except for gymnastics, and swimming, and, well—USA!

But the NATO of sports isn’t without its pitfalls—corruption, greed, etc. (see page A9), and that spectacular fizzle of an opening ceremony directed by Danny Boyle. Come off it, mate. Daniel Craig jumping out of a helicopter with Queen Elizabeth? (And yes, we know they weren’t the real James Bond or Queen of England, and that both are fictional characters that exist for the sole purpose of ramping up tourism revenues.) The slumdog affair felt longer than 127 hours and created in us a strong desire to fall asleep and wake up 28 days later. With all those pyrotechnics and special effects, you’d think that the British would have been able to create a more compelling scene than the ceremony that opened the Beijing Olympics in 2008 with those human pyramids and whatnot—but, then again, you’d be hard-pressed to find a Brit who would allow him or herself to be paraded around and objectified as part of a mass spectacle. Unless we’re talking about royalty. How else do we explain Kate Middleton? Climbing Mt. Olympus