If sports in general and the Olympics in particular are not your interest, don't despair.
First, brush off efforts to talk about minor sports like judo or sailing. Master the following points regarding American athletes, and no one will suspect you of being an Olympics dim bulb:
*Ponder aloud whether Maurice Greene, the 100-meter star, or Michael Johnson, the 400-meter phenom, is the fastest human on earth. Cluck that it's sad the two men won't be running against each other.
*Suggest that it seems unreasonable to even hope that Marion Jones will win five medals, which is what she has said her goal is. The long jump might well be Jones's Waterloo. Philosophize that it's good, however, for reach to exceed grasp.
*Praise the rich tradition of US swimming, but furrow your brow over how they will do against the Aussies. Single out the swimmers you consider best hopes for medals: Tom Malchow in the butterfly, Lenny Krayzelburg in the backstroke, Tom Dolan in the medley, and Gary Hall Jr. in the sprints. Point out it would be wonderful if Olympic veteran star Jenny Thompson could finally win an individual gold since her previous five came in relays.
*Fret that the women's soccer team has to open against Norway Sept. 14, and the Norwegians have beaten them three times this year.
*Say with swagger that nobody can give much competition to either the US men's or women's basketball teams.
*Opine that gymnastics is a special interest this year, especially on the women's side even though veteran Shannon Miller failed to make the team. Predict that Dominique Dawes and Amy Chow, both '96 Olympians, could shoot out the lights. Add that Blaine Wilson, the five-time US champ who is loaded with talent and attitude, could produce headlines.
That's it. Now go forth and enter into any Olympics conversation with confidence.
(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society