Not Just Any Weekend at the Olympics

Courtesy: International Olympic Committee

This was my first volleyball-focused Olympics. Actually, it is the first Olympics I’ve attended live since the 1984 Los Angeles Games. I worked at those and intentionally avoided the Games ever since. I knew that feeling could not be replicated. My involvement in 1984 was like being on a team or winning a political campaign.

I go to a lot of global sporting events, from World Cups to Super Bowls. Now on the board of USA Volleyball, and with my focus on sport and development and the proximity of London, I was back.

Like many, my schedule was tight.I tried to squeeze in all that I could. Like many around the world, I watched the opening on television. The best descriptor of the Opening Ceremonies?  The New York Times review captured it with, “A sixth-grade play meets Bollywood.”

The next morning, my wife and I walked along Hyde Park to Buckingham Palace, the London Bridge and all of the London postcard settings. Olympic design was everywhere. The color theme was reminiscent of the “festive federalism” pallet of the Los Angeles Games.  In the evening we circled back to Horse Guards Parade. We had the opportunity to see American men and women win at one of the best settings in London.

I know temporary structures and “pipe and drape.” This was very solid construction. The economy of thinking in these terms instead of building multiple new, permanent structures is striking.

Like many, I posted a photo and “USA Wins” on Facebook and some friends irately referred to me as “the spoiler.” This was my first clue that NBC, even with live-streaming, was heading toward criticism.

On day three, Sunday, we headed to Earls Court for indoor Volleyball.  We took the Tube from our hotel. In a word?  Easy. The night before, on another Tube ride, we met some young girls who said they were cheerleaders.  There they were on the floor. It was a good result again with the U.S. men winning.

The traffic fears, as in L.A., were nonexistent. At least during the opening weekend, the warnings to use public transport were heeded.  We ended with a smooth trip to the airport and a surprise upgrade to business-class back home, just in time to watch the remainder of the Games from our living room.

I am looking forward to Rio.

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