Posted Aug 07, 2012By Mark KiszlaThe Denver Post
LONDON — Boxing is dead. Long live bikinis.
This is what London 2012 has taught us, in 140 characters or fewer: The Olympic flame is eternal, but the world of sports now changes so fast, you’re either trending or dead.
On the night boxing in America got knocked to the canvas and counted out as irrelevant, guess what the team coach told me he was going to do.
Go home, turn on the TV and watch beach volleyball.
"It’s all about the ratings. It’s a TV world," U.S. boxing coach Charles Leverette said Tuesday.
Wild and wacky London 2012 seems like one big Benny Hill production. An ode to slapstick. Naughty enough to make you look. And 100 percent short-attention span theater.
Maybe that’s why Usain Bolt is the perfect leading man of the Summer Games. He does everything anyone paid to see in 9.63 seconds, then lets you get back to Twitter to check which athlete got banned for marijuana in baked goods.
There has been a nasty soccer spat about rules between the United States and Canada, two countries that never argue about anything. U.S. basketball player Carmelo Anthony accused Argentina of taking a cheap shot. As great as winning four gold medals was for Colorado swimming sensation Missy Franklin, I’m not sure it was sweeter than having Justin Bieber become her BFF during the Summer Games.
After a loss by welterweight Errol Spence ensured the once-proud U.S. boxing team would not win a medal at the Games for the first time in Olympic history, Leverette picked a fight with former amateur champions Sugar Ray Leonard and Oscar De La Hoya for griping about the sad state of affairs in their beloved sport.
"USA Boxing at the Olympics made Golden Boy. And it made Ray Leonard, and everyone else out there barking about what they can do," said Leverette, obviously irked. "Put your money where your mouth is."
The fall of boxing gives Americans an easy excuse to turn our eyes to sports more in tune with the 21st century. Why does beach volleyball rock? You mean other than the tans? And the fact the USA wins?
"It’s a lifestyle," said Jennifer Kessy, who will take part in an all-American showdown in the sand for a gold medal.
Sure, tradition still has its place at the Games. I’m a sucker for a gymnast crying every time. After he got robbed by a head-scratching decision from the judges, French boxer Alexis Vastine sat down in the middle of the ring to protest and when told to leave, belted the ropes stanchion on the way out.
But here’s what we’ve learned: NBC might be able to fool most of the people most of the time (or at least for the duration of your average seven-hour tape delay), but the Games are evolving by the second.
The gold medals are no longer the only thing that matters. In person, the Olympics are staged on a scale so outsized it would make Walt Disney blush. Dancers shake, shake, shake during breaks in the action of beach volleyball. Boxers enter the ring with Rage Against the Machine blaring on the arena loudspeakers. In London, where people queue better than anywhere else in the world, I’ve seen a line 20 minutes long for roast pork and apple sauce sandwiches.
The purity of Olympic sport?
That’s so 1950s, mate.
Call it crazy. Call it progress. From the first mash-up of color and sound at the opening ceremony, it’s all about sensory overload. The Games are set on fast forward forevermore.
"My dad always told me only a couple people get paid for running in circles. That’s NASCAR and race horses," Leverette said.
The Olympics have become a five-ring circus.
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