Underrated Olympic Sports

Tom McLeanCorrespondent IAugust 7, 2008

For four years now, fans of sport here in America were faced with a single Olympic moment.

Sadly, that moment wasn’t Michael Phelps and his seven medals in Athens.

Neither was this moment Deena Kastor’s incredible performance and Meb Keflezeghi’s impressive showing in the Marathons.

Neither was it Justin Gatlin’s powerful sprint to gold in the 100-meter dash. Instead, that moment was a bronze medal that was viewed as a failure.

USA Men’s Basketball returned home as underachievers, and rightly so, and from that day forward, we appreciative fans were preparing for 2008, with a new coach, a new team, and a new mindset.

While we were caught up in the hysterics of Coach “K,” Bryant, Paul, Kidd, James, and Bosh, we began to forget about what Beijing will bring to us in five days.

The Olympics are a time to come together and, for fans like myself, see true athletes that we don’t get to see or hear about every day.

Athletes like Liu Xiang in the 110-meter hurdles in a race that more than one billion Chinese will be watching with great interest.

Swimmers like Dara Torres and if 41-year-olds can really win against the rest of the world.

The great athletes are perhaps seen on the track.

If there was one sport where the United States needs to win more medals, it would certainly be in Track and Field.

While the US has many great performers in the sprints, it is in the field and distance events that greatness needs to be reasserted.

We have fallen far from our greats that used to be in the sport.

Fans of the sport will certainly recall greats like Steve Prefontaine, Steve Scott, Dwight Stones, and Bill Mills.

These past greats have not only been forgotten, but disrespected.

It was through their great efforts and tremendous adversity that USA Track and Field was put on the map.

Today’s track and field athletes in the United States have all but lived up to the expectations that being an American on the track should imply.

Runners like Alan Webb and Alan Culpepper have left much to be desired, even with their star appeal early in their careers and their extraordinary contracts.

Now, don’t me wrong. I am an American sports fan before a track sports fan.

I will probably watch as many of the USA basketball games that my employer will allow, but what has made Sports fans in the US think that Basketball is the primary sport to watch?

Let's hope, for all our sakes, that that's not true.