Pretty much sports in my wife’s view starts and ends with the Saints and LSU. I am more eclectic, or just maybe more eccentric. Without doubt my favorite being the Winter Olympic Games. In 1988 I had the privilege of being part of the Olympic family. Oh, not as an athlete, I was a computer nerd for the organizing committee.

I met some of the athletes, young men and women who had spent years of training to have the honor of representing their country. Most would go home empty handed, but just being there would be a memory to last a lifetime.

In Five, Four, Three, Two One, We have a world feed” said the unknown voice over the speaker system in the command center. What had been a noisy home for three weeks, Motorola guys squawking on radios, Timing guys arguing about equipment calibration, Satellite uplink folks grumbling about the placement of the main uplink dish, and the usual chatter from the IBM geek squad about how sensible it was for us to have a piece of equipment half way up a mountain, etc. etc. stopped.

Everyone was looking at the bank of TV’s showing the live feeds from the Opening Ceremony.

It was with that memory in mind that I watched the tape delayed Sochi ceremony last night. Quite why NBC tape delayed it is beyond me. They pulled the same stunt in 2012. The Canadians, Brits, in fact most of the world got to see yesterdays events in real time, but we in the US were forced to wait. Why? It is not as if NBC has a sparkling morning line up of programs. Disrupting them for one single day would not have done any harm, other than piss off half a dozen Soap Opera fans.

OK, enough of beating up on NBC, lets get to what they did eventually broadcast. As has become the new norm, the Opening Ceremony for each Olympics has to out do the last. Sochi was the poster child. Everything was over the top! It was theatrical genius.
It was almost as if the athletes were an afterthought. Flying cows and horses, 120 high powered projectors, 200 feet long sets scooting across the sky, it made cirque du soleil look like a cheap fairground sideshow.

Eventually Sochi has to call a commercial break, no doubt to reload the cranes with more flying props. In walked the athletes. Who decided on the headgear worn by the young ladies leading each country on the march remains a mystery. The one thought I had was that if you are going to walk around wearing a candelabra on your head why not put lighted candles on it?

Hong Kong's flag bearer, speed skater Lui Pan-To Barton, leads his national delegation during the Opening Ceremony of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics at the Fisht Olympic Stadium on February 7, 2014 in Sochi. AFP PHOTO / ALBERTO PIZZOLI        (Photo credit should read ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images)

Some countries had many athletes, some just one or two. It was the smaller contingents that caught my attention. Medal chances are slim to none, but they were savoring a once in a lifetime moment.

That to me is the very essence of the Olympics.
I have no use for professional athletes in the games, the NHL has no place in Ice Hockey and the NBA no place in Basketball. Let the youngsters have their moment in the spotlight.

The other thing that caught my attention as I watched the athletes parade around the stadium were the outfits each country had on. The bigger the team, the more outrageous the design. If costumes were an Olympic event there is little doubt that the Team USA would take the Gold Medal. It is little wonder that the State Department told the US team not to wear it if they ventured out of the Olympic Village.

All in all, I have to give Russia high marks for putting on a great show yesterday. And good luck to the many young people from all over the globe that are taking part.

Simon Barrett

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