Tag Archives: Olympics

Congratulations to Our Medal Winners — Be Sure You Claim that Medal on Your Taxes

When I was a kid I had quasi Olympic aspirations.  I say quasi because those aspirations really only came about every four years along with those very same Olympics that inspired me.  I don’t think this make me too uncommon though.  During the World Series I became more interested in my little league play, the Super Bowl made me, and countless other kids, imagine leading their team on a late fourth quarter touchdown drive that would bring home the Lombardi Trophy — even though I never played a single down of organized football.  Hell, I even remember watch Wimbledon when I was in middle school and thinking how cool it would be to be a tennis star; trust me my tennis game wouldn’t get me on anything but “America’s Funniest Videos,” so Federer has nothing to worry about.

That is me though, and like I said I am not alone in those childhood fantasies.  There are countless other children right now who are doing very similar things as they watch the Olympics.  While most of these kids will end up like me, not Olympic material, there will be a select few who will follow through with their Olympic dreams and actually become America’s next Olympic athletes, and we will all be very proud of them as they compete with the best that the world has to offer.  They will also inspire yet another generation of kids to go for the gold.

That is the nature of competition, to go for the gold.  To do that requires countless hours of selfless sacrifice, a healthy level of support from friends, and family, as well as someone to provide just enough of a push, without being overbearing.  I believe that is true in all sports, not just Olympic sports.  In order to win, you have to be driven to win.  The thing about the Olympics though is that it is guised as a venue for amateur athletics to shine.  While I think we all can agree that the Olympics “amateurism” is far from what that term used to mean, I think we can also agree that the vast majority of sports in either the summer or the winter games are not exactly what one would call revenue sports.  There really isn’t a MLB of swimming, track and field, gymnastics, and the list goes on and on.  The stars of those sports can make millions in endorsements, but the rest surely don’t do so well.

Regardless of the relative lack of income an Olympian can earn while they are making that selfless sacrifice, with the hopes of one day representing America in the Olympics, Uncle Sam apparently wants to share in the celebrations of those athletes who are fortunate enough to win an Olympic medal.  Under the current tax laws in this country our Olympic heroes will not only be greeted by proud America populace, but they will be met with Uncle Sam’s greedy hand out.  He will want to collect the taxes due from those medal winners, and to do that our Olympians will have to calculate the value of their medals, as well as the relatively small cash award too, and add that to their already small taxable incomes.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, our Olympians’ efforts to make not only them and their families proud, but to make the nation proud too, means that if they should win a medal then they will be sent a tax bill for doing so.  From what I understand it didn’t used to be this way.  If you won a medal in the Olympics then Uncle Sam only shook your hand in congratulation, now he also picks your pocket too.  Isn’t that just swell?  Maybe one day he can figure out a way to tax all of our Olympians efforts, because there are many more who don’t win medals than do . . . geez; God help us all.

Has the Internet Ruined the Olympics?

I remember as a kid watching with excitement the 1980, 1984, and 1988 Olympic Games.  The 1980 Olympics that I am referring to are the Winter Games in Lake Placid, the Summer Games were held in Moscow and the US team did not attend those games, due to political protest.  Anyway all of those Olympiads have one thing in common, and obviously date me, they happened in the days before the internet.  As such, we, as viewers, were subject to the whims of the television broadcast in order to find out what happened.  This meant that with each event that the network showed we had no idea who won what medal, and how they won it — or lost it, as the case maybe.  The 1980 Winter Olympic Hockey game, between the USSR and USA was not broadcast live in most of the country, it was shown less than an hour after it was over, so that it could be seen during the primetime television slot here in America.  The networks did a pretty darn good job of keeping the score secret, so as not to spoil it for anyone, and because of that most who watched it were on the edge of their seats, despite the fact that the game was taped — and that it was held right here in our country.

The internet has made watching the Olympic Games anticlimactic.  I live in the Pacific Time Zone and I was getting a stream of Facebook messages from friends of mine living in the Eastern Time Zone about the opening ceremony, before it was even broadcast in my neck of the woods.  That of course isn’t the internet’s fault; I understand that NBC wanted to make sure that the opening ceremony was broadcast in primetime for all time zones, but because of the internet’s stellar ability to disseminate information quickly, I was stuck with already knowing what had happened.  Then there are the events themselves.  I already knew Lochte beat Phelps for the Gold Medal in the 400 IM, long before I was able to actually see the event on television.  In fact, because I already knew I didn’t even bother watching it.

I am not advocating an all-out internet blackout during the Olympics, which would be a ridiculous request, as well as essentially advocating censorship of information, which I staunchly oppose.  Basically I am really just lamenting the days gone by when the broadcast of each event was almost must see TV, even if it was shown hours after the event was over.  Today it is like trying to watch the Super Bowl after the fact, there is little suspense.  I guess I am just getting crotchety in my old age, but I don’t let that change who I am rooting for; go for the Gold Team USA!

The Opening Ceremony of the Olympics Was . . . Meh

Last night was the opening ceremony for the Olympic Games in London and it was, umm, interesting to say the least.  Without the narration, by Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira, which wasn’t that great either, I don’t know if I would have totally known what was going on.  I would’ve picked up on the transformation from the agrarian age to the industrial age, but the thing with the kids and the nurses might have left me perplexed.  Then the whole thing with the house and the boy and girl, while I got it — kind of — it just didn’t really seem to work.

That is the thing about this opening ceremony, it was visually stunning at moments, and there did seem to be moments that had a point, but somehow, in my opinion, it seemed disjointed.  It was as if too much was trying to be shown and told through too big a theater for some of those messages to be fully conveyed.  Now, it would be easy for someone to criticize my critique of this opening ceremony by unfairly comparing it to the opening ceremony in Beijing China, of the 2008 Olympic Games.  Unfortunately for me, I did not watch that ceremony; and I realize that I am probably the only human in the world that didn’t.  I heard they were fantastic and immense and exciting and pretty much everything that the London opening ceremony wasn’t.  I hope that those who were in the stadium were given a detailed program of the show, because there were places where I am sure people were wondering, “What is going on, and where am I supposed to be looking?;”unless Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira was somehow guiding them too.  Was it an utter catastrophe?  Of course not, I simply think that there was too much trying to be told on too grand a scale for some of that message to fully come across.  That’s just my opinion, I could be wrong.

Bring on the Games!

Sometimes it seems like the whole world is going to hell in a hand basket.  There was the movie theater shooting by a deranged twenty-something in Aurora Colorado a week ago today, which certainly doesn’t make one feel that all is right with the world.  Before that there were the large forest fires raging in New Mexico and again in Colorado.  There is the ongoing drought that is blanketing damn near the entire country, especially the important food growing states of the Midwest, which is sure to drive our grocery bills up.  And then there are the following two stories.

Going to the beach is supposed to be fun.  Going to the beach is supposed to be where many go to unwind and relax.  For five people in New York though, going to the beach is now synonymous with fear and perhaps future health concerns.  Those five people, one of which is a nine-year-old boy, have been stuck by hypodermic needles that were buried in the sand.  While five people doesn’t count as an epidemic, it is in my opinion five too many, and certainly leaves me shaking my head wondering what is this world coming to?  The second story is pretty disturbing too.

How many times have you been out and about in a multi-level public building and come to the escalators only to find that at least one of the directions is not working?  Probably more times than you can remember, of course many of us will simply use the stairs, or some other way to get up or down.  All of those broken escalators often makes me think that they must be the most unreliable thing ever devised — until now.  Maintenance crews in San Francisco were left with a rather unpleasant surprise when they were called in to fix a broken escalator in one of the subway stops for the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART).  The culprit for the malfunction was none other than an over accumulation of human feces — yes you read that right.  There was so much of it that a hazardous waste removal team had to be called in to clean it up.

And those are just the domestic things going on.  Internationally we have the looming insolvency of Europe, the ongoing civil war in Syria, deadly floods in China, drug lords on a blood thirsty killing spree in Mexico, and more.  Thank God we have the Olympics here to at least bring us all together for two weeks of spirited, but friendly competition between the world’s best athletes; and I don’t think that it has come a moment too soon.