|ESPN.com: Summer 2008||[Print without images]|
|Sunny: The amazing architectural feats achieved through the Olympic venues. Cloudy: Heightened pollution from construction and congestion.|
(Sure, London's unfolding double-decker bus lacked the extraordinary visual and athletic artistry of the Chinese performances, but I doubt Jimmy Page and David Beckham had to wear adult diapers during rehearsals.) Sunny or cloudy? Were all those world-record performances natural or as artificially enhanced as the fireworks? The IOC virtually doubled its doping tests, but surprisingly few came back positive. The sunny view is that we're finally catching up to the cheats. The cloudy view is that the cheaters are now so far ahead, we can't even catch the stupid ones. No one can say for sure, which means some will applaud the performances while others wonder about the otherworldly performances of Dara Torres, Usain Bolt and even Michael Phelps (just part of the game when you do something no athlete has ever done). Sunny or cloudy? Passport free agency reached new heights (or depths) here, but is that good or bad or, more likely, does it simply depend on whether they beat some of your athletes? Former Lost Boy Lopez Lomong proudly walked into the stadium carrying the U.S. flag in what was both a tribute to one of America's greatest strengths (immigrants) and a not-so-subtle slap at the Chinese for their deplorable foreign policy with Sudan. Meanwhile, Becky Hammon wore the Russia uniform even though she doesn't speak the language and has no lineage to the country, but did it in part because it allowed her to sign a richer contract to play basketball in Moscow. Is that a sign of disappearing borders or of a rapidly approaching day when Scott Boras takes on new clients? A-Rod would very much like to learn more about your country's culture, as well as its income-tax shelters Sunny or cloudy? As the reader board forecast said, it wasn't an either/or proposition. It was sunny and cloudy. After all, Russia and Georgia marched into the stadium peacefully for the Opening Ceremony at approximately the same time the countries went to war with each other.
|Sunny: Usain Bolt winning three gold medals and breaking three world records. Cloudy: IOC president Jacques Rogge criticizing Bolt's postrace celebrations.|
|Sunny: There is a Hooters in Beijing. Cloudy: There's a Hooters in Beijing?!|
After 17 days here, I'm still not sure how much of the Beijing haze we saw so often was due to the humidity and the heat and how much to the pollution. But that's modern China. You can peer into the haze and still wonder whether it's sunny or cloudy.
"This is my last day on this shuttle, and I may not see you again," the English-speaking Chinese volunteer said to us on the media bus Sunday when I took my final bus to the Olympic center. "Thank you for appearing in my life." A colleague heard the same words on a separate shuttle, so perhaps the volunteers were told to say it. But the volunteer seemed sincere, and whether the words were scripted or not, it's a nice thought. Sometimes, especially at the Olympics, it's best to suspend the cynicism. Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached here. His Web site is at jimcaple.net.