Bottom 5/Top 5 From London 2012

For me, nothing else in the 2012 Summer Olympics could match the excitement, intensity and suspense of the USA-Canada women’s soccer semi-final. (US press wire/nbcolympics.com)

For two weeks every four years, the entire world unites in a celebration of pure athletic ability. We spend hours on the couch or at our computers, rooting for people we’ve never heard of in sports we barely understand (how is dressage a sport?),

Watching t.v. makes us patriots, and for two weeks, “patriot” no longer seems like such a loaded, co-opted word.

And then, just as quickly as it begins, it ends. Two weeks fly by faster than Usain Bolt, but what two weeks they are.

So on the penultimate night of the 2012 Summer Olympics, here are my five favorite and least favorite moments from London.

I’ll start with the negatives and end on a positive note.

The Bad

5) Diving: I’ll never argue that diving isn’t a sport, and last-qualifying David Boudia denying China was kinda cool, but this sport just does nothing for me. Other sports (synchronized swimming, some of the cycling) don’t excite me either, but the diving competition always gets a much larger chunk of the prime time broadcast. To me, it’s just the same thing repeated like 50 times.

4) Tom Brokaw: All of Brokaw’s pieces boiled down to “old people doing old people stuff.” England’s pivotal role in WW2’s outcome? Undeniable. But that same day, Mary Carillo did a story on a young South African female runner dealing with accusations of being a man, and in general all her stories were on modern England. As such, her stories spoke more to me.

I think even Bob Costas wished Brokaw had chosen more contemporary topics. In his wrap-up interview with Brokaw after the WW2 piece, Costas basically said, “All these people made their impact on the world 70 years ago and haven’t mattered since. Doesn’t that suck?”

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Beach Dynasty Ends in Gold

How could you not love Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings, when this was their reaction to every beach volleyball victory? (www.instyle.com/Getty Images; Landov)

I remember the day so clearly. Aug. 15, 2004. I was visiting my grandparents in Wisconsin, setting the table at my maternal grandparents’ house for breakfast. The 2004 Summer Olympics played in the background, but morning broadcasts rarely mattered, so I didn’t pay much attention.

I glanced up at the TV at one point, and some Americans I’d never heard of were playing beach volleyball. Misty May and Kerry Walsh. Who were they?

I’d always liked volleyball, my college “career” having ended just a year prior when its demands conflicted too much with my Ultimate off-season training. So I started to watch.

Almost instantaneously, I became a fan.

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