I was only 5 years old when Montreal hosted the Olympics in 1976. I don't remember watching much of it, missing Bruce Jenner and Nadia Comaneci.
In 1980, I was fully vested in the Winter Olympics in Lake Placid (I wrote about this back in February). But that summer, the United States boycotted the Olympics in Moscow. Another four years would pass before I would fully get the Summer Games experience.
When those Games, in 1984 in Los Angeles, arrived, they were an experience. In the days before the Internet and the proliferation of cable TV, the only Olympics to be seen were on ABC. Granted the network aired something all day (except for an abbreviated half-hour "All My Children" -- which I was also watching), and I watched as much as I could. I won't lie: Near the end of the Games, I was suffering a little Olympic fatigue. But near the end of the two weeks, we had gone to Wisconsin for a far-flung, small family reunion, then went to our neighbor's cottage in Wauconda, Ill. While everyone else was at the lake, I stayed in the cottage and watched track and field, realizing what an event the past two weeks had been. When I see the paths that brought me to be a sports journalists, the L.A. Olympics were on the map.
I was a freshman in college for the Seoul Olympics. I had just graduated college the summer of Barcelona. We were living in Madison for Atlanta, and had just moved to Utah for Sydney. Obviously, we lived in Salt Lake City for the 2002 Winter Games. I've worked in the office during many Olympics over the past 20 years, including the Beijing Games four years ago that seem like they just happened.
Enter 2012. The London Olympics take on a new dimension for me: I get to watch them with my sons.
They watched some of the Vancouver Winter Olympics two years ago and liked them, but they seem more interested this year. They are asking a lot of questions. They are recognizing the sports. Ben is rooting for the U.S. in every sport we watch. Michael likes the swimming and wants to get back into gymnastics. We have watched beach volleyball, track, water polo and team handball.
The Olympics are commercialized, and NBC is over-contriving them more than ever. And I don't care. In the second week, I know these Games will come to a close, too. I hope Michael and Ben are just excited come 2014 for the next Winter Olympics and in 2016 in Rio. The Olympics have been special for me. These Olympics have been special for us.
If I could only watch team handball all year long ...