There's a healthy absence of idolatry at the Olympics, perhaps because athletes are everywhere. You see Sarah Hughes crossing a street here, Carly Patterson hailing a cab there and--seated across from you at a table in a tent, his cellphone ringing like a fire alarm-- Michael Phelps. The Olympics turned all of Athens into an Olympians Reunion Center, like one of those paintings you see in diners in which Elvis, Brando, James Dean, Marilyn Monroe and a hundred other icons are all packed into the same small frame.
When's the last time you saw ARod at the A&P? The Olympics, for all their bloat, are still on a human scale. Before winning their own gold medal, the U.S. women's basketball players watched from the upper reaches of Karaiskaki Stadium as the U.S. women's soccer team played for gold. Hoops star Diana Taurasi cheered soccer star Mia Hamm for 90 minutes, and--when the tie game paused for a brief intermission before extra time--a casual fan wondered aloud what came next. Taurasi replied, like an eight-year-old girl, "Oranges!"
Sports are, after all, still child's play. It doesn't hurt to remember that as football season starts. While looking forward to the Orange Bowl, let's not forget about the oranges.