By Dave Begel Contributing Writer Published Aug 26, 2008 at 5:21 AM

The XXVIXMCLV Olympics are history, China is going to revert to the fire-breathing dragon it really is, and the athletes are returning home, some to riches, some to rags and all with memories.

I watched everything. Either online or on TV, I managed to catch some action in every single Olympic event. As a result, I'm left with some firm impressions about what ought to be an Olympic sport, what should not be a sport and some individual things I'll never forget.

Let's start with sports that might get eliminated and what the criteria ought to be for inclusion or exclusion. As you know, baseball and softball already have been eliminated.

First of all, it shouldn't be an Olympic sport if you can play it in your rec room or back yard. That means that ping-pong (or table tennis for you purists) and badminton are out. I'm not trying to take anything away from these guys.

The table tennis players could kick my ass, no doubt about it, and I wield a pretty mean paddle and have a bullet serve. But I probably couldn't get a point off any of these guys. Just because you are good at something athletic doesn't mean it should be an Olympic sport. Otherwise we might have pogo sticking, and nobody wants that.

Next, we should get rid of Olympic sports that aren't really the pinnacle of their sport. Tennis is a perfect example. Tennis has four great events every year, known collectively as the Grand Slam. Nobody cares about some match on Martha's Vineyard or in Bogotá. This is the same reason that golf should never become an Olympic sport.

Saying "He shot a 68 to win the Olympics" just doesn't have the same cachet as "He made putts on 17 and 18 to win the Masters."

Next, we should get rid of sports where, even after the scoring system is patiently explained to you, you still have absolutely no idea how somebody wins and somebody loses. That's fencing. I mean, if somebody drew blood, I could see it. Or, if you cut off a hand or something. But, don't ask because I have no idea how you score fencing. The same thing might be said of wrestling, judo, some of the cycling events and taekwondo, but I'm on the fence with those.

Next, we've got to get rid of all the synchronized things. Swimming and diving, especially. Synchronized swimming really bugs me. It reminds me of the North Korean army during a weapons parade. First of all, everybody looks exactly alike. I mean, who do you root for? It's not even graceful. The swimmers move like robots, with short jerky movements. This is one that will really bug my wife, since she and her sister, Leslie, are synchronized swimmers of some note from Atwater Beach. And for the reader who last week asked if I had ever done synchronized swimming -- you've got to be kidding, right?

Boxing has got to go, too. The day that boxing was even the least bit interesting is long, long gone. The referees are horribly inconsistent. They use computers to score the fights, but it hasn't helped at all. The Sweet Science is neither sweet nor a science and we should just let boxing slide into the back rooms and alleys where it seems happiest.

There also should be no sports that you can find at a recreational park in Wisconsin Dells. That eliminates trampoline. I mean, if we are going to have trampoline, then we also need to have go-karting and mini-golf.

I hardly know what to say about rhythmic gymnastics. Give the Milwaukee Ballet long pieces of cloth and cut them loose. Let's face it. There are gymnastics, and they are incredibly riveting and exciting. Everything that gymnastics is, rhythmic gymnastics is not. Give it the hook.

Finally, I've been trying to figure out my favorite moment of these Olympics. Michael Phelps was in the running, as was Nastia Liukin and Usain Bolt. But my favorite moment goes to Angel Matos.

Matos is a taekwondo fighter from Cuba. He hurt his toe and was sitting on the canvas, allowed one minute to recuperate. He took too long and was disqualified by referee Chakir Chablat of Sweden.

Showing that he believed in the sportsmanship oath of the Olympics, Matos stood up and delivered a harsh taekwondo kick to the ref's face. The head of the taekwondo association called the action "an insult to all mankind."


Dave Begel Contributing Writer

With a history in Milwaukee stretching back decades, Dave tries to bring a unique perspective to his writing, whether it's sports, politics, theater or any other issue.

He's seen Milwaukee grow, suffer pangs of growth, strive for success and has been involved in many efforts to both shape and re-shape the city. He's a happy man, now that he's quit playing golf, and enjoys music, his children and grandchildren and the myriad of sports in this state. He loves great food and hates bullies and people who think they are smarter than everyone else.

This whole Internet thing continues to baffle him, but he's willing to play the game as long as keeps lending him a helping hand. He is constantly amazed that just a few dedicated people can provide so much news and information to a hungry public.

Despite some opinions to the contrary, Dave likes most stuff. But he is a skeptic who constantly wonders about the world around him. So many questions, so few answers.