Leaving London 2012

After a quick vacation I took in the festivities in London 2012 and had a fantastic time. Despite the various boondoggles and controversies--of which there are many currently festering--the city is functioning well and the one event I was able to get into--beach volleyball--was absolutely fantastic, with an energetic crowd, stunning (temporary) venue and close matches.

Before boarding, a few quick thoughts:

- Golf is going to have to step it up to compete with the other sports for attention. Sadly, the current 72-hole stroke play format ensures it will get little attention and after watching the sensitive dynamics between teammates in beach volleyball and in other sports, we are completely blowing the Olympic opportunity by not showing the world that there is no more fascinating, intelligent, emotional, dramatic and beautifully awkward sport than golf when played with a teammate under Olympic pressure. So Tiger, since you helped influence this format, could you help influence its undoing now? Please?

- The empty seat fiasco, laid out beautifully by James Lawton in the Independent today, is as bad as you'd suspect. Tickets were difficult to get and for everyone here who tried and failed, or for visitors like me, it's insulting to see so many empty seats when you'd be willing to hand over good money to see an event. I'm less annoyed by the extensive dignitary seats going unfilled than I am by the large blocks in normal seating that went unsold. Most galling was turning on the BBC to see Caroline Wozniacki play at Wimbledon on a beautiful Saturday evening against a Great British athlete in front of maybe 1/3 the capacity of centre court, a session I tried to buy tickets for multiple times. Imagine how the residents who struck out must have felt.

-I will miss the papers terribly. The Guardian, Telegraph, Times, Independent and the tabloids are pulling out all the stops and while the coverage online is super and a must for your Olympic reading enjoyment, there is nothing like starting the day with a beautifully designed newspaper full of great writing and photography.

-The BBC here is remarkable. The coverage is extensive, easy to find and lacking many of the pomp that Americans seem to love and sports fans get annoyed with. But the jingoistic homerism really undoes their credibility, with the low point coming Sunday night by showing announcer reaction to a third place performance in women's swimming. NBC may be pro-American, but I don't think we'll ever see a replay of Dan Hicks and Rowdy Gaines rooting on someone to win a medal!