Ralph Higgins

Ralph Higgins
color pencil sketch by Gayle Higgins

Quotes I Like

"If you do not take an interest in the affairs of your government, then you are doomed to live under the rule of fools."

– Plato

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Thursday, August 9, 2012

The World's Greatest Athletes


      Gayle and I continue to watch the Olympics in the evening. The world’s greatest athletes are on display as a means to make people like me feel decrepit.  It works.  But that doesn’t mean that we can’t appreciate the skill of the young athletes performing at the highest levels of athleticism.

            Speaking of young…I think if the women gymnasts get much younger, the athletes will perform in diapers.  There’s one little Chinese gymnast that looks to be seven years old, but I think she’s listed as 16 years old.  I don’t believe it, but what I do believe is that she’s an unbelievable performer.  But all the women gymnasts look like children – not “women.”  They trigger my “fatherly” nature and I feel badly when they lose.  I’m sure it’s because I have two daughters.

            And how do these girl gymnasts get to be so small?  I don’t know much about gold fish, but I’ve heard that if you keep a goldfish in a small bowl, it will stay small.  But if you turn it loose in a large pond it will become a golden orca.  I think they must raise these “women” gymnasts in a shoe box.  And how can these little girls pack so much power and skill in such small bodies?  It boggles the mind.

            The so-called Fab Five are fantastic.  I’m a fan.  Little Gabby Douglas had some profound disappointments, but her skill and great smile will take her far. Her gold in the “All Around” exercise says it all. All five of these girls are world class winners and will appear on cereal boxes and in ads in the future.

            Then there is Aly Raisman, the gold winner on the floor exercise.  To watch her leap 20,000 feet in the air, spinning like a top, makes me ashamed that I can’t jump.  The last time I jumped I was trying to clear the sensor that closes my garage door.  I ran from the back of the garage and jumped the beam, but I was too slow. The garage door came down and I ran into it head on.  Pathetic.  Gayle is still laughing.

            Aly got short-changed on her vault routine last night and missed out on a medal, but a hero stepped in to save the day.  The famous coach, Bela Karolyi stood up and demanded that Aly’s coach appeal the score.  Aly’s personal coach, Mihai Brestyan had the appeal form in his briefcase, but didn’t have time to fetch it.  Someone handed him a blank form and he quickly and nervously scribbled whatever was necessary for an appeal and, after review by the judges, Aly got the bronze.  Based on the difficulty of her routine, there is no doubt that she earned that medal.

            I’m fascinated by the men and women’s gymnastics, but I also enjoy watching Misty May and Kerri Walsh in women’s beach volleyball.  My wife thinks it’s because of the “uniforms” the girls wear. There may be a little tiny kernel of truth there, but if there is it stems back to my high school days.

            There is a nudist resort in the hills above Los Gatos and the word around the boy’s gym in high school was that girls played volleyball on sunny days.  Several of us decided to take a scholastic “field trip” to ascertain the veracity of this hypothesis.  It was all in the name of education and science. 

            We were successful in climbing through the brush to a position where we had a good view of the recreation area at the nudist resort.  The problem was that we weren’t the only ones with a good view.  They must have had a guard on the grounds, because the next thing we heard were gunshots aimed in our direction.  We could have all medaled in the 100 meter that day.   

            Another inspiring Olympic moment came when the great sprinter, Usain Bolt, was being interviewed after one of his races.  During the interview the American National Anthem began playing in the background for an American winner.  Bolt stopped the TV interviewer in midsentence to acknowledge the anthem.  He did this out of respect for a fellow athlete and the country represented.  I thought that was a class act, since Bolt represents Jamaica.  Many Americans wouldn’t have done that.

            Usain Bolt joins Carl Lewis as the only sprinters to win 3 golds in 3 events, setting world records in each.  He’s the man to watch, but there are other great sprinters, including Americans, that will be strong competitors.

            It’s a lot of fun to sit on the couch, sip an adult beverage, and identify vicariously with athletes who can do things athletically that I couldn’t come close to even when I was young.  A “man’s got to know his limitations,” as Clint said.  I know mine.  My last hope for a high hurdle gold was dashed when I hit the garage door in mid-air.  

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