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Booking Through Gold Medals

btt button

You, um, may have noticed that the Olympics are going on right now, so that’s the genesis of this week’s question, in two parts:

First:
* Do you or have you ever read books about the Olympics? About sports in general?
* Fictional ones? Or non-fiction? Or both?

And, Second:
* Do you consider yourself a sports fan?
* Because, of course, if you’re a rabid fan and read about sports constantly, there’s a logic there; if you hate sports and never read anything sports-related, that, too … but you don’t have to love sports to enjoy a good sports story.
* (Or a good sports movie, for that matter. Feel free to expand this into a discussion about “Friday Night Lights” or “The Natural” or whatever…)

This one is easy. I’m not really a sports fan. I do follow the Olympics coverage in swimming, diving, and gymnastics. I remember coming to this country when I was ten years old and hating PE. I’m pretty much incept (and not interested) in most of the American sports: football, baseball, and basketball. But I do play soccer and am following the Barclays, UK Football League, every year. I almost never read any books about sports. The only one is Breaking the Surface by US Olympic diver Greg Louganis, who gold medals in both the springboard and tower diving events with record scores and leads over his opponents in the 1984 Game. It’s his coming-out story. In 1994, Louganis announced that he is gay; he took part in the 1994 Gay Games as diving announcer, and performed an exhibition of several dives to a standing-room only crowd of nearly 3,000 spectators.

In 1995, Louganis’s autobiography co-written with Eric Marcus, entitled Breaking the Surface, was published. Louganis revealed publicly the domestic abuse and rape he suffered from a live-in boyfriend and that he is HIV-positive. The announcement caused some controversy because of the belief, as expressed by then-United States Olympic Committee executive director Dr. Harvey Schiller, that he should have disclosed his HIV status during the 1988 Olympic games because his diving board injury resulted in light bleeding. Louganis had agonized over whether to disclose his status but was later advised by AIDS expert Dr. Anthony Fauci that the injury posed no danger of infection to fellow competitors.

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8 Responses

  1. I still remember watching Louganis dive during the Olympics.

  2. As I had poor eyesight and appalling coordination, I was extremely awkward in PE, so the jibes from my classmates were plentiful. Soccer was the only sport I enjoyed. But on the whole, there was little pleasure for me in that environment, then or subsequently. Plus, I never have been comfortable with the aggressive, win-at-all-costs, zero-sum mentality that permeates most sports events, nor the resulting fanatical partisanship. But the Olympics are a different story: to see extraordinary talent fulfilled through years of discipline and effort is something very exciting to see, especially in the aquatic and gymnastic events.

    I’ll be in S. F. September 11-14. I’ll send you an email with more details.

  3. #1 The only Olympics-related book I’ve read was Aquamarine by Carol Anshaw. #2 I’m not a big sports fan but I do love baseball.

  4. Does Sports Illustrated count? I’m a baseball fans. Not much into football except for college football.

  5. He’s a true legend in his sport. His first Olympic gold quest was taken place in Montreal, 1976, where he was narrowly defeated in the 10M platform event due to his low reputation, compared with his major rival, at that time.

    12 years later, in Seoul, 1988, this time he became the one who stole the gold from the up-and-coming Chinese diver Xiong Ni.

    He’s just good in both springboard and platform diving and got 4 golds in L.A. and Seoul — hardly any divers could compete that.

    BTW, he’s still alive, right?

  6. Sally:
    He was really a legend. I have a video tape that captures all his diving moments.

    Greg S:
    My ineptitude in sports made the perfect prediction on the excruciating experience in PE. I didn’t really care for the game so I’m more than happy not to be picked! I used my asthma as an excuse to waiver all future PE classes in high school. Hooray!

  7. Greg:
    I realize, as I was composing this post, that I’m not very good at anything that is team sport. Football overwhelms me. I don’t even know my rules for baseball. Basketball is too “straight” LOL

  8. Wordy:
    I didn’t remember 1976, but his performance in Seoul was just stellar! Yes, he’s still alive and cuter than ever! 🙂

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