I grew up thinking the Olympics were boring and that the Summer Olympics looked mainly like an exhausting overnight camp I was glad my parents had not sent me to.
Today, with 24-hour cable coverage and the vast informational petri dish that is the Internet, the Olympics have become so rich a source of entertainment that no one person could keep up with all the story lines. In a way, Tonya Harding was a John the Baptist figure, preparing the way for a new age when she arranged in 1994 to have her figure-skating rival knee-capped with a collapsible police baton. We didn't know it then, but Tonya was leading us into a new era.
Here are some of the stories you might have missed.
• Serena Williams celebrated her tennis gold with a little dance step which turns out to called the Crip Walk or C Walk and which has a distant connection to the Crips gang in Compton. For this, she was taken to task by some commentators. True, the C Walk has been banned in some Los Angeles area schools. On the other hand it's all over the place in movies and Justin Timberlake videos. I would say there's a pretty good chance that, at some future mostly-white-people wedding, Uncle Morty will be doing the Crip Walk on the dance floor, but according to the sports site Deadspin, that's already happening. The incredibly controversial Crip Walk is basically the Electric Slide of 2012. (Bonus Point: The greatest music video ever made, Janelle Monae's "Tightrope," relies heavily on a modified C Walk.)
2•Extending the delightful trend of being unkind to talented young black women, a debate erupted and bubbled for a week on the Internet about the hair of gold medal gymnast Gabby Douglas. I'm pretty sure this was a fake controversy triggered by a few nobodies on Twitter. It turned into a massive national conversation about whether Douglas's hair was artificially (and therefore self-loathingly) relaxed. The ratio was something like 7 negative Tweets : 431 self-congratulatory columns, posts and essays defending Douglas's right to any hairstyle she wants. (Bonus Outlandish Quote: "Sometimes I get a little paranoid that I don't think that an African American tweeted that! I think the CIA tweeted it. They know that Negroes are going to jump on it, and not shut it down if it stops." — Actor Isaiah Washington.)
• Henrik Rummel became the most famous Olympic rower ever when, during the bronze medal ceremonies, his Winklevoss appeared to be having its own celebration. It's possibly that more has been written about this part of Rummel than about Gabby's hair, including a detailed analysis on Gawker.com using Rummel's nearby gold medal (3.3-inch vertical axis) as kind of a benchmark.
• As long as we're in this neck of the woods, there was also an unprecedented amount of Olympic groin-punching in basketball. It culminated (I hope) on Wednesday when a French player pummeled the crotch of a Spanish player, apparently because Spain had intentionally lost a previous game in order to play France instead of the USA. You probably know by now that this year's badminton featured the disturbing sight of two teams trying to lose to each other in order to improve bracket position. (Bonus Fact: Underwater groin attacks are apparently a big part of water polo cheating.)
• There was a doping scandal in race-walking, a sport that really looks as if it should be part of Festivus, the fake holiday on "Seinfeld." The 2008 champion was expelled from the 2012 Games for using a blood booster. So he could walk faster. (Bonus Fact: According to a detailed analysis by mathematician John Barrow, the current world record times in the sport are impossible without breaking the one-foot-on-the-ground rule.)
• The International Olympic Committee has once again managed to unite the world … in hatred of the International Olympic Committee. A decade has passed since it was run by an actual fascist, but the IOC's strong-arm tactics against British shopkeepers using the five-ring symbol in window displays and the obsessive scrubbing of fair use video clips from the Internet tells us that the IOC's attitude toward freedom closely mirrors Tonya Harding's toward knees.