The Olympics are all about sportsmanship.
At least that's what many of us grew up thinking. It's supposed to be a time for athletes from around the globe to give the world a glimpse of the best their countries have to offer — both in the playing arena and out of it.
To that end, my original column posted here stated that U.S. gymnast Paul Hamm's (search) refusal to relinquish his overall gold medal victory to South Korea's Yang Tae-young (search), after a judge's scoring error awarded the victory to Hamm, was a shame.
I really believed that.
After last night's revelations from NBC analyst Tim Daggett that more scoring errors were made in the men's all around competition, which would have lowered Yang's score anyway, my original opinion is changed.
I thought that Hamm blew an opportunity to be the biggest hero of the summer games.
Instead, it's the judges who blew it. They put a hard-working, innocent, accomplished American athlete in such an awkward position that even his family was probably hoping he wouldn't win another gold last night, after yet another judging snafu — this time against Russian great Alexei Nemov in last night's individual high bar competition.
What is it with these judges anyway? Aren't they supposed to be the cream of the crop to be judging an event as important as the Olympic games? Apparently not.
I was flabbergasted last night when the judges changed their score for Nemov after the crowd booed for 10 minutes straight. Since when does the crowd have a say in Olympic results?
Paul Hamm endured the boos and the whistles. He focused on the task at hand. And he nailed his performance, taking home the silver.
As for the gold medal controversy, both the U.S. and the Korean Olympic committees say they would be for a co-gold medal for Yang and Hamm. I wonder if the U.S. Committee, like me, changed their opinion in light of the videotape.
As one Grrr! reader e-mailed me today, "You live by the videotape, and you die by the videotape."
It's a shame that Hamm's amazing come-from-behind performance in the men's all-around will forever be marred in this judging controversy, and it only rehashes the long-debated argument that judged sports are too subjective for something as big as the Olympics.
Grrr! to the judges!
Note to Paul Hamm: Based on the hundreds of e-mails I've received from the American public, you clearly have your fellow Americans' support in your decision to keep the gold!
Weed-Whack Hell ... Grrr!
Whoever invented the weed-whacker must be laughing his butt all the way to the bank. After breaking the trim cord nearly every five minutes this weekend, I was about ready to throw my John Deere equipment over the fence and into the woods.
Grrr! Nearly every time I started whacking weeds, snap. What should have been a half-hour job of trimming weeds ended up taking close to two hours.
I was so frustrated that I actually ordered the "as seen on TV" Grass Gator Load-N-Cut (search) replacement head. If you believe the commercial, it's supposed to be so strong it will cut hedges.
We'll see about that. I'll let you all know if it works (note: the Load-N-Cut only works with gas trimmers, so don't rush to buy it if you own an electric unit).
Pick Up Your Feet ... Grrr!
What is so difficult about picking up one's feet while walking? Once summer comes around, out come the flip-flops and sandals, and people, for some reason, love the sound that dragging the soles of their shoes on floors and sidewalks make.
It's even worse than the sound of Gore-Tex jogging suits that, thankfully, have been replaced with the lovely velour versions — at least at New Jersey malls and casinos. They may be tacky, but at least they're silent.
Oblivions, pick up your feet. It wouldn't be so bad if one Oblivion did it every once in a while. Unfortunately, feet-dragging Oblivions travel in groups of friends and families.
One Grrr! reader asked me if Oblivions breed Oblivions. The answer is, sadly, yes.
Now For Your Grrrs
Sue H. in Medford, Wis.: I have a huge Grrrr with the people who think Paul Hamm should give up his gold medal to the South Korean. Yes, it's clear that there was a judging error, but that's not Paul's fault. If anything, they should determine whether or not to award a double gold medal due to the controversy. That was done in the winter games in Salt Lake in ice skating. Would anyone else have that big of a heart and give up something that's rightfully his? I don't blame Paul one bit for getting a little annoyed at all of the hype and "self-righteons" in the world. I'd keep it, too.
Scott Witt Capt., USN (ret.) in Las Cruces, N.M.: Who selected the version of the U.S. national anthem being used at the Olympics? The reedy strings version of "rockets red glare" can barely be heard. The whole anthem is sort of a diminuendo version of the proud, melodic, bold anthem we are used to. What gives?
— Scott, all of the National Anthems were arranged and recorded by composer Peter Breiner. Breiner did this version of the "Star Spangled Banner" in the early '90s and the International Olympic Committee, which chooses all of the 200 nations' anthems, picked it. The U.S. Olympic Committee had final approval. The version is available in a CD collection called National Anthems of the World. (Thanks to Wayne Lee Gay, staff reporter of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram for his story, from which I gathered the above information.)
Terri from Michigan on Bob Costas and Katie Couric's non-stop blabber at the games: I agree. Fortunately, I was able to view the whole opening ceremony live on the Canadian channel. At least the host talked over some of the programming once in a while, but the cameras never left the floor. And that, my friend, is what good viewing is all about.
Mitzi in Nebraska on the same subject: Right on, Mike. My sentiments exactly. If they would have just shut up the program would have told its own story. We tuned out for just that reason: stupid comments to whom they presumed were stupid people.
Ellen in N.J.: The first time I remember being bombarded and benumbed with facts by Katie Couric was during Princess Diana's funeral. Katie described everything that the viewer was able to see. We were all in deep shock and the last thing I wanted to hear was yackety-yak from a reporter. Finally I couldn't stand listening to her voice and surfed my way to the BBC. You could actually hear the horses hooves and sometimes sobs from the crowd. The second time I was overwhelmed with mostly useless facts courtesy of Katie Couric was at the opening ceremony at the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. Just when you wanted to sit back and take in the whole scene, we got a non-stop description of what we were watching. Just give us a few brief facts and I truly believe most of us can handle the rest.
Roger in Cyberspace: You're right about the announcers at the Olympics. I started watching the opening ceremonies, but the constant yammering got to me. I hit the mute button, but then the closed-caption text appeared (I can't turn it off on my TV) and I found myself reading the same crap that I'd just muted, so I turned the whole thing off. I tried again during some of the athletic events, but just couldn't stand the chatter. So, no Olympics for me, thanks.
Joan B. about her very own Oblivion: If you are married to an Oblivion/Obliviot, how do you get through to him? My husband constantly does things like 1.) Sit at a drive-thru for 10 minutes only to pull up to the order box and say, "Um, can I have a minute?" 2.) Go to an ATM, wait until he gets to the machine, then start digging for his ATM card. He also makes sure everything is put away before he'll budge from the ATM, no matter how long the line. He constantly parks in front of the mailbox so the mailman has to get out of his truck to deliver to our house. I nag him quite a bit, but I hate to nag (not like it helps, anyway). Any advice?
— Joan, forward him all of my columns as if you just discovered something funny you wanted to share with him (except this one)! Maybe he'll begin to see his own Oblivionism. You can also simply refuse to go the ATM or drive-thru with him (force him to go inside or walk to the machine), and go out and move his car every time he parks in front of the mailbox — but don't move his seat back to his position. Eventually he'll just give up and park somewhere else. Remember, an Oblivion will never truly recognize his Oblivionism on his own.
Allan Loucks in Sacramento, Calif.: Even Fox News, which I admire, seems to think that I give a flip about Paris Hilton's mutt being lost and then found! How about some real news in the front-page spot where that appeared? And, on top of that, after talking about the mouse ... er ... dog, the writer has to ramble on about their house being burglarized and something about "The Simple Life," and something about Nicky Hilton getting married in Las Vegas. Grrr!!!
Sam in Las Vegas with a MOST IMPORTANT message: I am a frequent reader of your column and 90 percent of your Grrr's have my complete support. However, lately I have been noticing frequent Grrr's from store clerks and customer service reps. I manage a small convenience store
and have a degree in marketing, and my Grrr goes out to all of you in the service industry complaining about serving (Jennifer L. in Delaware, Lauren Richard in Boston, Ed in Paoli). If a customer thinks that they are the most important person in the world, THEY ARE RIGHT. If a customer wants to charge 64 cents to a card, THEY CAN. If a customer wants you to break a $100 bill, DO IT. I have news for you people, the customer IS always right. These people are lucky they don't work for me because they would be out of a job.
— Amen Sam. Amen!
Stupid Lit'l Dreamers
This week's Stupid Lit'l Dreamers are the U.S. women's Gold Medal softball team, composed of Leah Amico, Laura Berg, Crystl Bustos, Jaime Clark, Lisa Fernandez, Jennie Finch, Tairia Mims Flowers, Amanda Freed, Nicole Giordano, Lori Harrigan, Lovieanne Jung, Kelly Kretschman, Lauren Lappin, Jessica Mendoza, Stacey Nuveman, Catherine Osterman, Jenny Topping and Natasha Watley.
They are the product of hard work, and believed they could do it. Congratulations!
Until Next Week ... Grrr!
Mike Straka is the Director of Operations and Special Projects and columnist for FOXNews.com and contributes as a features reporter and producer on "FOX Magazine." He was also in the movie "Analyze This," and has appeared in various commercials, theater and TV roles.