One reason the Olympics are so fascinating is that they promote sports most people only see every four years. The more fans are exposed to sports such as swimming and gymnastics, which remain on the periphery in the United States, the more they appreciate them at the highest level.
Australia gave the U.S. a mini-scare in men’s basketball, but it wasn’t as if the Aussies played a perfect game against a superior opponent having a horrendous night. It was rooted in the Dream Team, which set the standard for the rest of the world. Twenty-four years later, the rest of the world is closing the gap.
Hopefully, major sports in other countries will have a similar effect on the United States in the coming generations. Rugby returned to the Summer Games buffet after a 92-year absence and provided a different brand of football. It should contribute to the growth of the sport in the U.S. and beyond.
Soccer has grown exponentially in the United States as Americans embraced international play. China is a giant in table tennis and diving. The Republic of Korea dominated archery. Norway is looking for its third gold medal in women’s team handball. Thankfully, we still have another week.