But the air of Olympics fervor throughout the city was eye-opening. Here are photos from the events I watched.
Water Cube aquatics center, built just for the Olympics.
Ceiling inside the Water Cube.
Swimmers stretching before 200-meter medley semifinals. Phelps is third from the right.
You can see the cameraman in Phelps's lane, on the far right of the photo. As each athlete was announced, he ran up to them, zooming the camera on their facial expression. In the middle of #7, he abandoned his close-ups and hightailed it back to lane 3 for Phelps. There was no footage of #8 getting introduced, because the cameraman spent all that time prepping the perfect shot of Michael Phelps.
Outside of the Bird's Nest athletics center, lit up at night.
USA vs Brazil in the women's soccer gold-medal match.
I found it interesting to watch an entire soccer game from start to finish. There is so much buildup after 90 minutes go by without a goal. By the time the ball actually lands in the net, the anticipation is extreme.
USA basketball Team of Redemption against Argentina.
The main advantage of the US team seemed to be the ability to defend without committing fouls. Argentina fouled over and over again. At one point, the US was permitted three free throws due to a foul. A few minutes later, the US was permitted four free throws for a single foul.
The fouls added up to much more than the point spread.
James Blake serving. I got to see the drama firsthand of Blake petitioning the referee over this shot (full article):
Blake powered a forehand toward Gonzalez, who was standing close to the net. The ball flew long but Blake immediately claimed it had brushed his opponent’s racket.
Television replays backed up his assertion.
But umpire Yan Kuszak saw nothing, and Gonzalez remained mute at the back of the court instead of calling a point against himself.
While tennis continues to embrace technology, with HawkEye used to settle disputes on line calls, it is not used to settle disputes such as this one.
“Playing in the Olympics, in what’s supposed to be considered a gentleman’s sport, that’s a time to call it on yourself,” said a fuming Blake in his post-match news conference. “Fernando looked me square in the eye and didn’t call it.
“If that happened the other way, I never would have finished the match because my father would have pulled me off the court if I had acted that way.
“That’s a disappointing way to exit the tournament when you not only lose the match, but you lose a little faith in your fellow competitor.”
I spent a long time afterwards reading stories of bad and good sportsmanship.
This sailing rescue is my favorite story of sportsmanship.