August 5, 2012

Morgan Saunders, 17, is entering her senior year of high school in Pennsylvania. She is an American of Welsh and Guatemalan heritage.

What’s your earliest Olympic memory?

My earliest Olympic memory is of the summer games in China—I was in New Jersey with my great aunt, and I remember watching little bits of it while eating Rocky Road ice cream.

How excited do you get about the Summer Games: Eager? Hyperventilating? Meh?

This year I was eager to see the opening ceremonies—since they’re so elaborate—but I was only slightly excited to see the actual games.

Which events that you particularly enjoy watching? (Or, if you don’t like the Olympics, what do you do instead in August?)

I like watching the Ping-Pong, diving, and archery. During the other events, I’m stuck reading books and looking up current events in preparation for school in the fall.

Are there any sports you watch only during the Olympics?

Unless it’s in Forrest Gump, Ping-Pong isn’t shown that often on TV.

If you ran the International Olympic Committee, what sport would you add/get rid of? What rule would you change?

I would get rid of skeet shooting. While I think that it’s impressive that people can shoot from such long distances, I don’t really classify it as a sport—it seems more like a hobby.

As for what rule I’d change … it would have to be whatever rule it is that allows professional basketball players to be on Olympic team while professional football/soccer players can’t. It’s incredibly biased and unfair—teams like the USA have an unfair advantage over teams like Tunisia, and they wipe the floor with them. I don’t like that.

What do you think of NBC’s Olympic coverage? Or do you watch the Olympics in Spanish?

I think NBC’s coverage of the Olympics favors the US teams and competitors (obviously) and that irks me. Maybe I want to see the Russian divers or Bulgarian archers, but I can’t because NBC is too busy talking about Cullen Jones and Michael Phelps.

I haven’t watched any of the games in Spanish, but I bet the commentators are more entertaining than Matt Lauer.

What athletes will you be rooting for?

I don’t have any particular athlete that I’m rooting for.

Other than the United States, which countries do you cheer for?

I don’t have any particular country, although I suppose I should be rooting for the USA.

Overall, are the Olympics a good thing, or a waste of time and money? An instrument of peace or of nationalist zeal?

I tend to think of the Olympics as a good thing, but I have to say—I didn’t like the Opening Ceremony. I thought that while it was well-managed and very nicely produced, it didn’t make all that much sense. There were more than a few times that I was watching it and thinking, “I have no idea what’s going on,” or “Why did they do that?” I was kind of hoping for effects similar to the ones they had at the Winter Olympics in Canada two years ago, but I can’t always get it my way.

While I might not have liked the Opening Ceremony, the Olympics as a whole is a good thing—it brings the world together in a peaceful and exciting way. A lot of good things come out of the Olympics—this is the first time Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Brunei have allowed women on their teams, making it the first Olympic games since their refounding in 1896 that women athletes have appeared on every team. Granted, women’s rights in those countries aren’t now magically equal to those of men, but it’s saying something that women can compete in the games.

If you could have a ticket to one Olympic event in London, what would it be?

Archery. It would be great to see a country like San Marino (which only has four athletes competing) beat out a country like Australia (which has 414).

“Olympic Talk with Morgan Saunders,” by Bill Vourvoulias.

From “Girls Got Game,” the August 5, 2012, issue of V as in Victor.

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