Tuesday, August 14, 2012

With the Olympic Summer Games in London having ended on Sunday, let’s take a look back to the end of the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles.

SUNDAY, August 13, 1984, SPORTS


The World Came and Conquered All Our Hearts

    Goodbye, world. It was so nice to know you. Good of you to come.
    Arrivederci, Italia. Vaya con Dios, Mexico. Adios, Espana. Sayonara. Auf Wiedersehen. Adieu. Shalom.
    Turn out the lights. The party's over. Pack up the costumes. Put away the paper hats. Turn off the loudspeaker. Pay the band. We'll take one more cup of kindness yet for days of Auld Lang Syne, then pick up all the glasses and put them in the sink. Never mind the dishes. We'll take care of those tomorrow. Drive carefully. We don't want to lose anybody.
    It's been a ball. Don't cry. Go out the way we came in, singing and dancing. A toast to absent friends, to loved ones who couldn't be here. Promise to write. Keep in touch. Thanks for the memories.
    Thanks, Carl Lewis. You might have been a headache but you never were a bore, and you made it a benchmark Olympics.
    Thanks, Rowdy Gaines and Rick Carey, and Tracy Caulkins and Tiffany Cohen, America's Sea World, for making the Olympic pool more fun than a school of dolphins around the Love Boat.
    Thanks, Mary Lou Retton and Ecaterina Szabo for making us all 16 years old again and bringing life a doll-shop window.
    Thanks, China, for doing more to restore a historic friendship and affection between two peoples who have always loved each other than any Presidential mission could ever have done.
    Thanks, Romania, for showing us our struggles are with regimes not people and for not letting a bunch of pot-bellied generals deprive their kids of their golden moment in life. Wear your medals in health. Better yet, wear them in Russia.
    Thank you, Comrade Chernenko for winning more gold medals for the United States than any athlete in history.
    Thank you, Peter Ueberroth and Paul Ziffren and Harry Usher for showing Americans they didn't know their own strength and that their own politicians had too little faith in them.
    Thanks, Mary Decker and Zola Budd, I'm sorry it had to come to this, but candidly, an Olympics without its raging controversy is no Olympics at all, is like a meal without wine. Thanks for the wine. It was a very good year.
    Thanks to Paul Gonzales and for all the lovely little guys who bled and scarred for their medals and showed the kids of the world there's a better way out of the barrios and projects than a gun or knife or powder.
    Thanks to Evander Holyfield for showing the world Americans are not all spoiled brats who curse officials, break rackets, abuse audiences and sulk and rant, by accepting a rank injustice with grace and courteousness and a nobility of spirit.
    Thanks, Bobby Knight, for making a bunch of young men, no matter how gifted, realize it was a privilege to play for your country that is not to be lightly taken or cheaply earned, and for showing that our young people are not cynical or jaded but yearning for leadership, for how else do men become leaders?
    Thanks to Daley Thompson and Sebastian Coe, the Great Brits. They beat one-half of the world in their specialties in the Moscow Olympics and now have done exactly the same to the other half of the world. They have certified an Olympics is an Olympics
    Thanks, soccer fans. You've been yelling you'd support first-rate foreign football if it came attached with nationalistic trappings. Damned if you didn't.
    Thanks, ABC, for one of the greatest stories ever told. So, you waved the flag a little bit. Who did it hurt? Take a tip: Never apologize.
    Thanks to security for keeping the story on the track, the pool, the lake and the pitch and not the hospitals, the morgues and the chancelleries and making the only "tragedies" of the Games runners falling down.
    Thanks to Baron de Coubertin. What a lovely idea he had! Thanks to the Juan Samaranches, Madame Berliouxes and Lord Killanins who persevered through boycotts, revolutions, wars, hijackings, terrorism and murder to keep the Baron's ideals going, like riding three horses going in opposite directions at once.
    Thanks, Hollywood and David Wolper and Tommy Walker and C.B. DeMille and Flo Ziegfeld and Victor Herbert and Irving Berlin and Beethoven and Deanna Durbin and Guiseppe Verdi, the All-American marching band, 76 trombones, and whoever else had anything to do with the non-athletic portions of the opening an closing extravaganzas.
    Thanks to every guy and girl who never won a medal, thanks to every marathoner who finished 78th, every sprinter who missed out in the heats, every jumper who missed the finals.
    Thanks to the gallant horses who jumped the bridges, thanks to the men who held the stopwatches, measured the hurdles, raised the crossbars, refereed the contests, took the tickets, moved the traffic or just answered the phones.
    Thanks to Robbie Burns for ‘Auld Lang Syne.’ Without it, we wouldn't have known how to say goodbye. Nobody wanted to anyway.
    They doused the L.A. Olympic flame at 9:30. But where it glows, in a nations's heart, it can never go out. The Games went out as they had come in — on a note of joy, and hope and promise. America gave a party and the world came. The ones you want at your party anyway. The world's Olympians. Victors all.
    We'll miss them. May they come back soon.

Reprinted with permission by the Los Angeles Times.

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