As a loyal American and huge sports fan, I am relieved that the Olympic Games in Torino have ended. I watched some events, but I have to admit that Major League Baseball as well as college football, basketball, and hockey rank far above curling in my interest.
I think NBC and its advertisers are not crying either about the end of the games. When you consider that the American Idol show swamped the games in the TV ratings, the network and its advertisers had to be upset. Those ad dollars didn't come cheap.
The problem in Italy was that all the hype fell far short of reality once the competition started. The expectations were too high in the first place. Fans at home figured we would walk away with a hoard of gold medals.
It didn't happen.
Some powerful examples:
• Bode Miller, the swaggering skier, may have been a star in the beer lines. But he went 0 for 5 in the downhills, and a fifth-place finish was the closest he came to a medal. He needs to give his mouth a rest.
• The men's hockey team failed to medal even though it figured to play even with the European teams. Perhaps we all expected a repeat of the miracle team of amateurs that defeated the Soviets in 1980.
• Michelle Kwan, a magnificent figure skater but never a gold-medal winner, took herself out of the competition because of injury. This left Sasha Cohen to carry the burden of publicity, and she fell while protecting a first-place lead.
Our team had its moments, of course, such as snowboarding. (I admit it is a stretch for me to rank this as an Olympic event.) But even the most zealous fan in the States had to be disappointed in the results.
In 2008 come the summer games. And again, we'll be treated to an avalanche of pregames hype about our stars. Maybe they'll measure up this time, and we'll be happy.
I hope so.