By Drew Markol, TSN Contributor - Archive - Email
Nobody asked me, but...
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Can you believe the Olympics are now pretty much only hours away?

This relatively new deal of having an Olympics every two years still doesn't feel quite right.

Every four years made it more special because you had to wait for it.

Alas, in our instant gratification society, that's no longer good enough, so we go every two years.

Pretty soon, one fears, we'll alternate years and instead of a Summer Olympics once every four years we'll have two every four and maybe even one every year.

But let's not give the TV execs any ideas.

Still, once we get going Friday, and we grab a couple of gold medals (everybody loves a winner and the U.S. kicks butt in the Summer Olympics) the collective excitement will grow. Book it.

I know it will for me. As much as all the commercialism and professionalism has taken over the Olympics, when it comes down to us against them, or, in this case, U.S. against them, the blood gets flowing.

A couple of things to look forward to:

Obviously, this Olympics, like the last one in 2008 in Beijing is about Michael Phelps and if he can work his magic again.

Eight gold medals is unbelievable and if he does it again they should name every pool in America after him.

His biggest hurdle looks like it will be teammate Ryan Lochte. A fabulous swimmer in his own right, Lochte may be looked at, remarkably, as the bad guy when he goes against Phelps.

Phelps is such an icon that anyone who even tries to knock him off his perch will be considered a pest, even if it's a teammate. That will be interesting to see.

And while we're in the pool, we know that Phelps will get a ton of attention, and deservedly so, but if Missy Franklin does her thing, look out.

Only 17, Franklin, or "Missy the Missile," has qualified in seven events (she's a freestyler, backstroker and will be on a number of relays). If she wins a couple of golds, America will have a new idol to go along with Phelps.

Women's gymnastics will once again be the darling of the Olympics for two reasons.

1. We're always really good.

2. And people, especially women, will watch and give the TV people enormous ratings. So, get ready to have gymnastics shoved down your throat.

They're not my bag, and I actually feel a little sorry for the women gymnasts every four years.

These girls reach their athletic prime when they're 16 or 17 and then that's it. They get bigger and heavier and all of a sudden they're no longer world class athletes in a blink of an eye. I just find that sad.

And while we're on the topic of darlings, also get ready for enough men's basketball and the latest version of the Dream Team to make you nauseous.

It seemed like a good idea in 1992, we were tired of seeing our college boys lose to foreign professionals and Michael Jordan and Company did something about it.

Well, it's 20 years later and all of those foreign professionals are now in the NBA and we all know their names. Two decades ago, we didn't and we didn't like the fact they were beating us.

Times change and sports change. I'd have no problem going back to letting the college kids go and try and win gold again. In fact, I'd love to see every country represented go back to sending their amateurs.

I know, I know, it won't happen.

One athlete I know I'll be pulling for is weightlifter Holley Mangold.

The sister of Nick Mangold of the New York Jets, Mangold wasn't even expected to make this Olympic team, but her numbers jumped and she qualified.

She won't become a darling because she's 5-foot-8, 350 pounds, not what the Hollywood types are looking for, but that's fine with me.

I'd love to see her get a medal. She's the kind of athlete these Games should be about and someone to root for.

Drew Markol has been a sportswriter and columnist for several newspapers in the Philadelphia area for more than 25 years.

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