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Coping With Olympic Withdrawal

Angela Kim

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Shannon Miller
(Scott Einuis)
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If you've had Olympic fever the last two weeks, well, your temperature is about to go down. The Olympic torch will soon be extinguished and fans of international contests in diving, beach volleyball and trampoline will have to wait four years until the next summer games in London. Those who have been glued to the past two weeks of coverage will have a letdown - what else compares to the Olympics? When else does the country go crazy for a swimmer? More importantly, what do Olympic junkies do now?

Last weekend, I was at a bar in New York. The table next to me had about eight people huddled around someone's iPhone. They were getting instant updates on Michael Phelps' last race. The entire room erupted and that's when I knew that Phelps won his eighth gold medal.

I'll miss moments like that -- that camaraderie.

I rarely watch sports, but every four years, I make an exception for the Summer Olympics.

But tomorrow -- it will all be over.

"In a way, the Olympics are every great television show rolled into one."

That's Whitney Matheson, she writes the pop culture blog Pop Candy and she's been following the games.

"You have drama. You have great characters. You have competition. It's everything we love about television in this one compact season."

Whitney understands my addiction to the Olympics and my dread about what to watch when it's all over.

"Yeah, it's a rough time because until the fall season, there isn't too much on TV. My totally guilty pleasure pick, that I can't even believe I'm talking about, is Army Wives. You totally don't need to know what's going on in the show. You can jump in anytime. It's a drama. It's sort of like Desperate Housewives but it won't leave you feeling dirty afterward."

Eh, it's not exactly what I'm looking for. I want something real -- like the Olympics.

"And you know, I can't even recommend any reality show because the Olympics is the only really style show that has any good in it. There are so many terrible ones out now. I don't know, what's a really bad one that's on right now -- there's that one called Hurl on G4 where it's all people competing to see who throws up first -- it's horrible. You're going to be so let down."

That's an understatement.

Or not.

My feeling of loss when the Olympics are over are purely selfish. I'm just a spectator watching it from a couch. I've been wondering how a former participant feels about it all.

I called former Olympian and 1996 gold-medal gymnast Shannon Miller - Yes, the Shannon Miller -- part of the Magnificent 7 U.S. women's gymnastics team.

She's lived the Olympics but now she's watching it on TV, sort of.

"During the first night of men's team finals, I couldn't sit still. So I finally got on my treadmill and started walking. I was scared I was going to jinx them so I wouldn't watch the actual competition, I'd wait until I heard the commentaries calling the replay. I'd watch the replay after they already finished! But I get ulcers watching these kids."

I feel the same way!

Shannon loves watching the Olympics like me but it can be a little too much.

"Now as a spectator, I sit at the edge of my seat and I do -- I feel like a mother that is anxiously awaiting for her child to compete and I know now how my parents must have felt. I think we're all kind of ready for a break."

But I'm not ready for it to be over. It's too soon!

In the end, it's the stories that I'll miss and not so much the sports. Like the story about the Chinese women's gymnastic captain, Cheng Fei. She sees her family only once a year because of her training. She communicates the rest of the year through text messages -- and her dad saves the texts he gets from her. That story broke my heart.

And of course, there are the little factoids I'll miss learning, like how Michael Phelps eats three egg sandwiches just for breakfast and consumes 12,000 calories a day!

As I bid farewell to the Summer Olympics and cope from my Olympics withdrawal I'll keep looking to fill that TV void -- let's just hope I don't have to "Hurl."


  • Comment | Refresh

  • By mark mitten

    From chicago, IL, 08/24/2008

    Why just watch the Games on TV when we could attend them here in the US? Chicago is bidding to host the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games. While that sounds like a long ways off, the decision on will host 2016 is made next October. If you love watching the Games on TV, imagine being a spectator in Chicago. Visit chicago2016.org for more information.

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