The Super Bowl can't match it. Neither can the Daytona 500. And soccer's World Cup comes close, but doesn't finish first.
No sporting event inspires the same kind of patriotic pride, admiration for athletic endeavor and interest in sports like the Olympic Games.
Despite the historical grandeur, the Games today are suffering from several maladies.
The International Olympic Committee continues to sting from investigations that uncovered bribery schemes that influenced site selection. . . . Athletes using performance-enhancing drugs still plague the Games' credibility. . . .
Adding to those troubles, enjoyment of the Sydney Olympics has been compromised by NBC, holder of exclusive broadcast rights. The network decided to show all of its coverage on tape delay - hours after the events already have taken place. . . .
Commercializing the games may pay the bills, but it threatens to sap the Games' spirit and leave a bad taste on the public's palate.
Broadcasters, sponsors and the IOC all need to heal the Games' ills, or the world's interest in the Olympics sadly will fade.