The year was 1976. America was celebrating its 200th birthday. Rocky was in theaters. And the Summer Olympics were on television, live from Canada. I was 11 and it was the last time the Olympics meant anything to me. We cheered on Edwin Moses, Bruce Jenner and Sugar Ray Leonard. We were star spangled with pride. Sure, we lost to the Russians in the overall medal count, but everyone knew that Russians hand-selected their athletes from birth and manufactured them in athletic factories with no windows or doors. We were America, by God. Our athletes were real people – not manifestations of a communist machine. And to prove it, every American bought wholesome breakfast cereal with box art featuring our heroes.
Tonight is the opening ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics, which takes place in London. I now have two daughters – one who is 11. It will be interesting to see if she pays as much attention to the games as I did at her age. I know this though – she won’t be streaming any live events because we don’t have cable. Last night I learned that NBC, the American network broadcasting the Olympics, has an app you can download to watch any of the games live. Except, to use the app you have to have a cable subscription. You have to have a cable subscription even though the Olympics are being broadcast on ‘regular’ television (NBC.) At our house we get the NBC signal for free – over-the-air via an HD antenna connected by coax to our television. But to use the app you must have a cable subscription. No exceptions. Which means that my kids will be watching this Olympics the old fashioned way – on one channel during prime time and during the day on weekends. And because we tend to spend our weekends outside of our house, most of what NBC will air at night during prime time will be stuff that already happened. Like they did in China. How exciting. At least the picture quality will be better than in 1976.
Let’s hope that during these games that there are a few American heroes to cheer for. And that we kick Russia’s ass in every sport we compete against them. And maybe, just maybe, that NBC learns that they’re not a cable channel first.