I tried, but couldn't seem to get that old Olympic spirit I knew in my youth. To be sure, I watched, but somehow couldn't quite get into the swing of this year's China games.
I finally put my finger on the problem. I was watching the China versus U.S. baseball game. It all seemed surreal, China playing baseball. Didn't Chairman Mao outlaw the dreadful and decadent game of baseball? But no, apparently not, for here they were, signaling signs to the pitcher, running the bases, and swinging for the fence.
Of course, Team USA battered the hapless team 9-1. No surprise there. But I began to fully understand my anti-Olympic/anti-China feelings as the Chinese pitchers started throwing at our batters. With each bad pitch I attempted to shake it off and blame it on pitching mistakes. But by the eighth inning with the eighth U.S. batters being dusted off, I found myself hurling insults at this team dressed in red. Then, when one of our hitters was deliberately beaned, I exploded.
Later, a U.S. team member was sprinting toward home, and in an obvious pay-back, went out of his way to crash into the Chinese catcher. Sadly, I admit, I felt a rush of pleasure after their catcher went down hard.
Whoa! I had to step back and catch my breath. I had found myself relishing the sheer brutality of that malicious moment, and I didn't like how it made me feel. Where had my feelings of fair play and honor among competitors gone?
I reviewed my current position on China. And in a fit of self-reflection I mentally listed my anti-China resentments: I concluded my burning personal problems with the Great Red Dragon had little to do with baseball and their team's unsportsmanlike, un-Olympic behavior.
As I watched, my mental list of complaints continued to grow: I was trained by Marines who fought the Chinese Peoples' Army in Korea. I was aware of the vast human rights violations China harshly imposed on its own people and others. I was upset about China's oppressive treatment of the Tibetan people. I felt anger toward the Chinese for contributing more than their share to our world's pollution problems. I was angry that their tyrannical government displaced thousands of their own people to make room for their Olympic venues. I was angry that the Chinese fudged the ages of their tiny girl gymnasts and I learned that eight Americans were deported for daring to protest.
That's only the short list of my deeply felt objections to the outrages of China's forcefully controlled communist regime. I still hadn't hit upon my deepest resentment toward the Peoples' Republic of China. My chief objection stemmed from the day we learned that they had shipped us lead painted toys and poisoned pet food.
Their behavior had caused untold amounts of distress for many American families. Parents watched as their pets died, and gazed in wonder as their children failed in both school and in life.
No, not until we get a full apology from their leadership, including substantial reparations for gross neglect, or worse, for intentional poisoning of our children and pets, will I consider removing my anger. Given their obsession with saving face, I don't expect that will happen anytime in the near future.
Red China is not our friend, nor is it friend to its neighbors or the world. The good news is that the 2012 Olympic games will be held in London. Perhaps, by then, I might yet be able to recapture my cherished regard for the international spirit and noble intentions of the world's greatest games.
Bob Loring heads East Pasco Toys for Tots.