- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 21, 2002

The journalistic herd has dispensed an outpouring of Olympic coverage, no doubt in response to one another than public demand.
Peer pressure is an awful thing to waste on these ever-fraudulent parties: the IOC, the judges and niche competitors.
In the end, the herd goes along to get along, no matter how many times the Olympic myth is exposed as a figment of the IOC's moneymaking imagination. You never know. There could be an award in all this.
It is funny how it works.
The herd looks at professional wrestling with contempt, although professional wrestling is a whole lot more honest than the contrived competitions in Salt Lake City.
Not that professional wrestling merits a daily special section or NBC's advertiser-induced fawning.
That is the point.
Vince McMahon puts his stuff out there and makes no apologies. It is what it is.
The IOC suits put their stuff out there, but only after you have paid them, fed them, driven them around, and genuflected in their presence. They are very important people, of course pretentious, pompous phonies who can relate to many of the pretentious, pompous phonies who put out special sections and tell weepy human-interest tales.
The self-absorption is blinding. You're there, on site; therefore, it must be momentous.
Bob Costas, the self-appointed conscience of America's playgrounds, is around to confirm your professional worthiness, your very being, your essence. He is a player, baby. Don't we all want to be players?
Costas suffers from a bad case of smugness, which, coincidentally, nearly led to physical issues during his interview with McMahon last year.
Fortunately for Costas, McMahon restrained himself. One blow probably would have put the poor little fellow in the hospital, followed by the usual outrage. McMahon would have been portrayed as a bad guy, the poor little fellow as a victim.
In honor of the Costas-McMahon interview, let's release the white doves and repeat after the IOC: world peace. Osama bin Laden, wherever he is, is wiping a tear from his eye.
If it moves Matt Lauer and Katie Couric that's a male bimbo with a side dish of perkiness it must be a significant development in the charting of the human spirit. Jump on board. You don't want to overlook the heavy meaning of the Nordic combined event. There must be at least one competitor who has overcome scurvy, beriberi and a number of sexually transmitted diseases.
That puts it all in perspective, doesn't it? If not, Bud Greenspan is there to assist. He is a heavy thinker, an older version of Ken Burns, another profound intellect who has the incredible capacity to mix images and words and tell you, the viewer, how to feel about it all. Aren't you lucky?
There is a kind of creepiness about it all, if you bother to look. You are advised to take repeated showers around it. It is hard to say what is real. Even NBC's studio fireplace is not real.
The IOC's bloated carnival is more insulting than the big-business branch of the NCAA. At least with the NCAA, you have the innocents, the athletes, even if many of them miss the fundamental point of college. That is not necessarily their fault. They have no power, no real voice, and too many are under the illusion they are going to the NFL or NBA, as if either league is a place of eternal joy.
The Winter Games have no compelling there there, except for the occasional accident. Perhaps the powers that be in soccer are right. If you sell the public on something, puff it up beyond its modest form, a segment of the public, starting with the shut-ins, will try to watch.
Soccer's obsession with 1-0 is preferable to curling.
To be fair, sometimes the score is 2-1 in soccer.
Here's what you have at the Olympics: a corrupt IOC, corrupt judges and corrupt athletes participating in sports that, for the most part, barely resonate.
That is an awful generalization, and it is not nice to generalize in public. The flip side is this: You try to deciper who's clean, who does not have a hidden agenda and who does not have a secret bank account in Salt Lake City.
The professional hockey players probably are as pure as it gets, as if they really need the Olympic Games. How amusing is that, the professionals lending a touch of dignity to the proceedings?
There was a time when the Chicken Littles of the world suggested the sky would fall if professional athletes were allowed to compete in these hallowed affairs. This was said with a straight face, with the hope that no one would be impolite around East Germany's gender-benders.
If the IOC suits ever put tiddlywinks on ice, would the herd hyperventilate in its presence? Would the herd tell the story of the tiddlywinks competitor who overcame so very much to be part of the action?
The story would come with a dead father, a dead mother and a bunch of other dead people. Death, too, puts it all in perspective. It is one of the obligatory observations of the living. The dead person would have wanted it that way. That is another one.
Perspective inevitably reaches an athlete or coach after the passing of a relative, as if the rest of America is inoculated against dead relatives.
It is tough to play a game with a loved one being placed in a coffin. It is tough to write, too. Believe it or not, it is tough all the way around. So what should you do? Do you assume the fetal position or press ahead? Most embrace the latter, however unexceptional that is.
America's corporations make a buck on the drivel, as is their professional duty.
If people are desperate enough to stand in line to buy a beret, why not be the official whatever of the Olympic Games? It seems the desire to be with it, to be with the crowd, is powerful in humans.
Curiously enough, Monica Lewinsky beat everyone to the beret.
The herd, as always, is poised to explore the beret in numbing detail, the concept of it, the nature of it, about what it reveals.
U-S-A, U-S-A, U-S-A.
Please, don't chant that in front of the herd. That is a sign of jingoism, the favorite charge of the Olympic Games.
By the way, who's winning the build-a-snowman competition?
That should be worth a game story, sidebar, charts and an in-depth profile from NBC.
Some experts believe the eyes are most important with a snowman, others the nose or mouth. You be the judge. Go ahead, swap votes if you like.
One way or another, the putrid show moves forward, in tandem with the herd, one as excessive as the other.

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