That being said, I don't like them as much as I used to back in 1996. I think the biggest reason is because, more and more, I've started to think of the Olympics as less of a showcase of the strongest, faster, and most agile athletes in the world, and more of a freak show that walks the thin line of human ability. Think about it: every single year there's a few different sets of athletes at the games. The few that qualify with no hope of even competing or making a final round; they're just happy to be there. There's the athletes will make it to the finals but know they're not really in contention for a medal. And then, there's the top 4-5 in the world competing for the top three slots (though really they all want the gold). The final contest will be decided my milliseconds and millimeters, and yet afterwards the gold medal winner will be looked upon as a hero while Silver and Bronze are the weaker has-beens. In actuality though, they both have the exact same talent and ability, and the fact that the final races are determined by such narrow margins shows how the current sports exist at the edge of human ability. As a result, the only way to win or gain an edge in these contests is to train to an insane level, including diet, lifestyle, exercise, for years as well as drugs (both legal and illegal if you live in Russia) and other insane sacrifices. The Olympics were once a celebration and exhibition of amateurs...now it's a freak show of child-prodigy-esque slaves to their profession. Watching Micheal Phelps eek out a win over Ryan Lochte by a hundredth of a second means nothing because they both spent the past 12 years of their lives in the pool every day. They'd better win at that point...and is it really worth the cost?
So while I'm curious to see the new stories and spectacles this year, there's something sad in these games. I can't help but wonder what sort of lives these "athletes" will have once the party is over and they have to go back to real life for once. Hopefully they can all have solid second-acts.