Watching Dream Team gives some nightmares

Some might call me disturbed or childish, but there is nothing I love more than playing sports with grade school children.
When I lay a devastating hit on a 12-year-old, or stroke a fadeaway jumper on a 9-year-old girl I can’t help but feel like a god of sorts. Never have my athletic skills been so obvious as the time I took out a 13 year old in a fistfight; I think I even broke a few of his tiny rib-lets.
While my peculiar preferences keep me from attaining my goal of one day becoming a sunday school teacher, I think I have a much higher calling: I am destined to coach the Dream Team.
If you haven’t been paying attention, the Dream Team is an elite group of professionals who destroy and humiliate foreign opponents of the United States. More specifically they are an all-star team, selected for the Olympics with the purpose of bringing home gold to the good ‘ol U S of A.
The dream team is also a mockery of the Olympic spirit, a rotten natured, cross-marketed consumer ploy, and about as entertaining as a sharp blow to the spine.
Maybe I’m the only one who thinks the Dream team is an unfair sham, but how can anyone be entertained by watching a team that has no possibility of losing? You might as well stage a dogfight between a pit bull and Benji, or have a charisma contest between Al Gore and David Koresh.
Is this what we have become? A world bully who competes only on its own terms, and only when it can win? Call me a sucker, but I always thought the Olympics embodied a spirit of competition and kinship which transcended national boundaries…or at least it was a series of esoteric games I couldn’t understand. Yet they stood as a symbol of a world community, were competitive and seemed fair.
Now the organization which once stripped Jim Thorpe of Olympic gold for playing semi-pro baseball will hang gold medals on the necks of multi-millionaires Vince Carter and Gary Payton like the neck of billionaire Micheal Jordan a few years before.
Let me make one thing clear: the US will win the gold medal and will not lose a single game. Just like last time. In fact, they have never lost a game. I think they should call off the games, and just give the Dream Team the stinking medal, because I doubt New Zealand or Lithuania will put up much of a fight.
The real tragedy is things weren’t always like this. There was a time when Olympic men’s basketball was a premiere contest; an event with merit and entertainment value. American and Soviet teams actually competed together for Olympic gold, and, god forbid, the US actually lost a few times.
Some of you might call me a communist for saying this, but I think it is a good thing that the American team occasionally lost a game or two, because that’s the nature of sport.
Back in the day, top college players represented our country and although they can’t boast the undefeated record of the Dream Team, at least they can feel proud they competed in the Olympics. The Dream Team can’t call their games competition; they should only be described as athletic beatings and international incidents.
In a perverse way, the Dream Team represents America. They stand as the embodiment of what the world has been forced to recognize as the “Ugly American”– a loud, crass, egotistical monster devoid of notions of fairness or sameness. Our country so often shows it’s ugly side to the world, always playing the poor winner and the sore loser.
Our win at all cost attitude and over-competitive nature have left a bitter taste in the mouth of the world from Sydney to Cambodia.
I want you to know that I love basketball, and I like most of the players on the dream team. Perhaps the lack of Allen Iverson from the lineup has clouded my mind, but these players should feel a bit ashamed. Rather than compete with athletes of similar skill, like they do in the NBA, they compete against opponents who have no chance of victory. It’s like playing football against your baby brother, knocking him in the dirt, and then mocking him when he runs home crying.
I hope this nation feels proud of itself when our mighty warriors win their gold medal with another undefeated record. The players can take the gold home and hang it next to all the other trophies. People can buy hats and shirts proclaiming our basketball superiority. Yet none of them will understand what it means to be a real Olympian.

Pete Johnson covers campus life and welcomes comments at [email protected]