As many of you know, I have retired from teaching and coaching after 20 years. My first few days of retirement have been spent watching the 2016 Rio Olympics. Being a basketball junkie, of course, I have seen all of the US men’s basketball games. But I have also tried to broaden my horizons some and become more knowledgeable about other Olympic sports. So with that goal in mind, here are my five takeaways so far about the other sports at the Olympics.
1. Judo. Ok, I’ll admit it. I didn’t think there was a whole lot of difference between this sport and karate. There is. Not only do the athletes perform various standing moves, they throw you down and keep throwing moves until you are pinned! I want no part of that, but its fun to watch.
2. Table Tennis. To borrow a PGA Tour catch phrase; “These guys are good.” It’s amazing to watch the speed and accuracy they hit the ball with. It’s a long ways from the ping pong I played back in the day at the Southeast Community College (now Southeast Kentucky Community & Technical College) grill in Cumberland.
3. Swimming. Michael Phelps = G.O.A.T (greatest of all time for those of you who didn’t know the abbreviation.) This man has more gold around his neck than Mr. T at a promo for a Rocky movie. Katie Ledecky looks like she is shot out of a gun in the water! I remember when I too learned to swim. It was nothing like that. Ever. (Side note: If you want a laugh, go to my Facebook page and watch the men’s diving team video. You won’t be disappointed.)
4. Soccer. I’m kind of ashamed to admit it but I know next to nothing about the world’s most popular sport. But I do know two things. One, Brazil takes it very seriously. Two, if you are a very good Brazilian soccer player (or any athlete) you get to go by one name only. How cool is that?! I can imagine going to Walmart and buying an item and across the intercom I hear “Great choice by SSSHHHAAANNNEEE!!!” and the whole store goes crazy! Just a thought.
5. Rugby. Another sport I have fallen in love with. It has it all. Very physical sport, a bunch of NFL-sized tight ends and safeties, tackling that doesn’t end the play, and the players can kick, throw, or hand off the ball to score. Awesome! I’m not going to play it mind you because each team unloads on the other team and sometimes each other, knocking players silly. But I do enjoy watching it from the safety of my recliner.
Shane Shackleford is a retired teacher and coach residing in Speedwell, Tenn., with his wife Elizabeth and his dogs Molly and Bear. Shane follows all things sports and loves the Kentucky Wildcats, Indianapolis Colts, and the Cincinnati Reds.