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One Not-So-Shining Moment
Rick Reilly
August 23, 2004
Why do you always have to be so negative? Why not mention what I did right?
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August 23, 2004

One Not-so-shining Moment

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Why do you always have to be so negative? Why not mention what I did right?

For instance, I did not trip with the Olympic torch when I got my turn to carry it last Thursday outside Athens.

Also, I did not burn down the Acropolis. And did I flunk a drug test afterward? No!

But you have to pick nits. You have to bring up the fact that after five continents, 27 countries, 78 days, 11,500 torchbearers and 50,613 miles, it was me who put out the flame.

That's true. But Olympic officials never should have let me near the thing! So whose fault is it?

The trouble started when so many corporations got scared about the possibility of terrorism in Athens. NBC, for instance, gave its Olympic advertisers the option of being entertained in bomb-free Bermuda during the Games, and about half of them took the network up on it.

That opened up torchbearer slots for people who had no business being around fire. Like me.

I immediately started working on Greek phrases I might need, such as Eimai edo! Kato apo ta baza! (I'm here! Under the rubble!)

The morning of the run, I got my instructions with about 50 other torchbearers. "Do not hold the torch by the top--that part will be hot," the woman in charge actually said. "And do not go back the way the torch came. And if you want to buy your torch, it will be 360 Euros [$442], cash only."

O.K., so it's a sucker's game, but they got me. I now own an Olympic torch! I can't wait until I get it home. Imagine the possibilities. Donning the ol' uni and going backyard-to-backyard lighting neighbors' barbecues. Hanging around bars looking for people who have cigars to light. ("Oops! Sorry about your eyebrows, ma'am!")

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