I was thinking about what Bryant Gumbel said. Believe it or not, I don't mean the part about the Winter Olympics being so white it looks like a GOP convention. That was only Bryant granting himself the right to be racist just to throw an elbow at Republicans. Yeah, we know Bryant. You're a lib. We get it. Fine.

But it was his remark about the Winter Olympics not being real sports, that any sport that had a crying room wasn't a real sport, which got me thinking.

Why have the Winter Olympics been so dull?

I realized it's because the Olympics have just become the U.N. with running shoes, or in this case skis. It's all the people who don't like Americans and certainly don't want to hear anybody chanting "U-S-A, U-S-A."

It's boring because it's just a bunch of Euros and some others competing for the gold.

I know you think that's what the Olympics should be — and maybe — but it's boring.

Roone Arledge, the late, great boss at ABC, knew what the Olympics were about. It was us against them.

It was the red, white and blue against the hated evil empire, the Ruskies and the Iron Curtain countries. It was plucky and brave little Nadia Comaneci's of breakaway satellite republics versus steroid-pumped East German shot putters. It was the nobody American hockey team against the feared Red Army team on the ice at Lake Placid.

In the days when people watched the Olympics and cared, there was an American you wanted to root for going up against a godless communist you were prepared to hate, but couldn't because you saw just a hint of his humanity peeking through. Then you still wanted the American to win, but the balance of sympathies had tilted back toward the center.

Those days are all gone. The East German shot put ladies are gone. Now we have "The Flying Tomato" and a figure skating competition that looks like the Village People on ice.

And the whole shooting match gets beat by "American Idol."

You see why? At least with Simon and Paula and Randy there's some suspense, some real competition. And you can root for an American.

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