Eric Lach is a reporter at Talking Points Memo. His parents grew up in Buenos Aires; he grew up near Boston and now lives in Brooklyn.
What’s your earliest Olympic memory?
I had some awareness of the Dream Team in 1992, and Nancy Kerrigan in ’94, but the first vivid Olympic memories I have are all from Atlanta ’96. Three great track and field moments—Carl Lewis taking gold in the long jump, Michael Johnson winning both the 200m and the 400m—and one non-sports news event: Centennial Olympic Park being bombed.
How excited do you get about the Summer Games: Eager? Hyperventilating? Meh?
I get into it. I don’t know half the people’s names, and I’ll never think about most of them again, and the story lines are spoon-fed, but so what? It’s still a great, big spectacle. And watching Michael Phelps in 2008 taught me that the Olympics can be just as much fun in a bar as they are in a living room.
Which events do you particularly enjoy watching?
I enjoy almost all of them. I’ll watch track and field, swimming, basketball, soccer, gymnastics. Especially the uneven bars. I’ve always liked the uneven bars because it’s the event I have the hardest time imagining myself doing. Gymnasts make it look easy, but if you really think about the swinging, the flipping, the twisting, you’d be nuts not to admire it.
But my favorite event is the 1,500-meter run. It’s got a great history, and I think it’s the best example of an event that not only makes you wonder how fast these particular athletes can move, but how fast human beings can move.
Are there any sports you watch only during the Olympics?
Track and field, swimming, gymnastics.
If you ran the International Olympic Committee, what sport would you add/get rid of? What rule would you change?
I think it’s time international basketball adopted the NBA three-point line. Why hasn’t this happened yet?
What do you think of NBC’s Olympic coverage? Or do you watch the Olympics in Spanish?
Bob Costas will still be involved, right? As long as Costas is there, I’m fine.
What athletes will you be rooting for?
Usain Bolt. 100-meter runners are larger than life. The guy’s name is Bolt! I’m very excited for his showdown with Yohan Blake.
Other than the United States, which countries do you cheer for?
Rooting for Argentina in men’s basketball in recent years has been a thrill. But I’m a sucker for a story line. If some tiny country has an athlete going for gold, or if some long-time contender is giving it one more shot, then I tend to look past the flag.
Overall, are the Olympics a good thing, or a waste of time and money? An instrument of peace or of nationalist zeal?
People who know more than I do can make arguments about the impact of the Olympics on host cities and countries. I’ll just say that I’ve never felt that watching the Games wastes my own, personal time.
If you could have a ticket to one Olympic event in London, what would it be?
The 1,500-meter run, and I’d want to be as close to the finish line as possible.