by Jim Provenzano
With so many jocks crossing themselves and praising the faith that eradicated this glorious sportsfest, it would appear that some people need to be reminded that the original Olympics were a Pagan festival.
391 A.D. saw Roman emperor Theodosius I prohibiting all Olympic games, the prude. It wasn’t until the 19th century that people began to sweat once again for pure sport.
And before you sound off about the Pagans being godless, be reminded that they actually had a whole twelve pack of ‘em, compared to your average Southern Baptist.
This leaves the creators of the Olympics no doubt spinning in their graves, our heroes unsung, and the monsters from below rampaging o’er the earth.
The Titans, it’s understood, if you rent even Disney’s Hercules - the de-homogenized version of the classic pre-Christian fable of the first guy to have twelve stations of suffering - were a bunch of gargantuan monsters shoved down to the bowels of earth by Zeus.
Currently, the Titans are; 1) an animated sci fi film, 2) a football team from Alexandria, VA led by Denzel Washington, 3) a new nighttime soap starring Casper Van Dein and Yasmine Bleeth.
Some like to think that the smaller gods come down to earth in the bodies of humans once in a while just to have some fun, usually at athletic or erotic events. No doubt Mercury’s abiding in the body of Michael Johnson or Gary Hall, Jr.
It seems Hall, Jr.’s claim of “smashing the Aussies like guitars” is hereditary. Olympics, and shortsighted hubris, run in his family. Hall’s father was an Olympic swimmer in 1976 and now is an eye surgeon with multiple complaints filed with the Arizona Board of Medical Examiners, according to AP. Hall’s maternal grandfather is Charles Keating, the most famous of the 1980s savings and loan swindlers.
So, it would appear the gods are not inhabiting as many US bodies as the network hype had hoped, with the exception of foreign swimming and gymnastics teams.
Gervasio Deferr, the gold medalist in the vault, won millions of fans with his impish smile and gorgeous looks. No doubt Eros visits his body/temple on occasion, even if he's married.
And despite a wife and child, gymnast Alexei Nemov, broke hearts, and records, racking up another dozen medals. No, he’s not gay, according to repeated showings of his progeny. Yes, real men kiss, at least real Russian men do.
All of these people should be lauded, from the goldest of gold, to the dead last loser, particularly in an endangered sport like gymnastics, or the first Olympic sport ever, Greco-Roman wrestling, which is apparently being crowded out of its slot in the 2004 Olympics by other “athletic” events like Ballroom Dancing.
For more info on Olympic wrestling, while it lasts, Bay Arean and Federation of Gay Games’ own Gene Dermody is reporting on the grappling each day at www.about.com.
Dermody’s being the coach of the oldest GLBT-inclusive wrestling team is irrelevant, if it weren’t for the hetero-defiant focus of all other media, determined to smash any assumptions about the queer nature of any athletes. If only one more of these jocks would come out at the Olympics, THAT would be another Olympic moment, and the Pagan gods, unlike a few others, would be proud.
The major implied lesbian presence would be that of the Amazons living again in the form of women’s softball teams, if the NBC reporters weren’t so deadset on mentioning all the married players, as if to prove something. “No dykes here!” the profiles extort.
Gay diver David Pichler, along with his US compatriots, was routed by Russian survivor Dimitri Sautin. Calling himself an “old man,” Sautin’s been stabbed, injured and operated on, only to take gold, besting even spritely Mark Ruiz.
The Chinese victories in gymnastics, the Spanish and Polish surprises in men’s vault; these were a few of the genuinely authentic moments that, despite all the hoopla, still make this better TV than the average sitcom.
Inspired by all this physical exertion, I rode my bike to Ocean Beach, swam in the ocean for a while, and on my way home, treated myself with a visit to Le Video, where the array of sports videos was so astounding, I had to instead pick a low camp favorite; Can’t Stop the Music, Olympian Bruce Jenner’s glorious musical cinematic debut and swansong.
Cathy Freeman, the Aboriginal woman who received the honor of lighting the Olympic flame at the Opening ceremonies, won gold in her running event with her spaceage bodysuit.
I’d cheer her as enthusiastically as millions of others, if not for the quickly covered-up scandal of her major competition, a French runner, being attacked, threatened and escorted out of Australia. Between that, the drug scandals and the gymnastics facilities mess-ups, this is far from an error-free event.
One of the most suspiciously questionable authorities on the Olympics, Commissioner Jaun Antonio Sammeranch, suffered a terrible loss. His wife died the night of the Opening Ceremonies.
Sammeranch was known for avidly supporting corporate infestation in the Olympics, while its modern creator, Pierre de Coubertin, abhorred it.
So did the original Greeks. Granted, they were a bunch of sexist pederasts in sheets who’d kill women for even coming near the playing fields where guys got to cavort naked, but hey. Some things have progressed. They no longer wear sheets.
De Coubertin also fought to prevent the lowly working classes from entering competition, and succeeded for decades. Women weren’t even allowed to run in races over 500 meters until 1960.
But Sammeranch, who managed to excuse himself from the accusations of financial scams in the much-publicized 2002 bid bribery scandals, suffered terribly, and is retiring.
And while NBC’s cornpone piece du jour on Saturday lauded the joy of representing one’s country during the playing of the national anthem, they deliberately avoided mention of one moment that to this day evokes tears and chills for many.
Until an athlete can hoist his or her country’s flag and the rainbow flag, the singlemost powerful moment of all Olympic moments will always be, for me, the moment of civil disobedience.
Mexico City, 1968; Tommie Smith and John Carlos, gold and bronze medalists in the Men’s 200-meter track event, raised their black-gloved fists in defiance of racism. For this single gesture, they were sent home amid the events.
I can understand why someone sacrifices years of their life for one moment. For this single gesture, it’s easy to see the real meaning of "anthem."