6 BlogHers' Olympic Memories: Jenner, Shag Carpeting & 1984

5 years ago

Did you love to watch the Olympics as a kid? I really started watching during the 1984 Olympics, when I was in fourth grade. I still remember my mom letting my sister and me watch them over dinner while eating on TV trays, which I thought was the Best.Thing.Ever. We talked to six bloggers and asked about their Olympics memories. Check it out!

Jory des Jardins

1984 was an interesting year for me: I was 12 years old that summer and hugely interested in sports. But this summer was a bit different: Sure, I enjoyed watching the pure physicality of the swimmers, divers, gymnasts, and triathaloners, but, I had to admit to my soon-to-be-pubescent self, some of the guys were kind of hot. I had to go to the movie theater to see Jake Ryan, but for two weeks every day I could tune in to see the men's gynmastics team (Bart, Mitch, Peter, Tim ... sigh). The Olympics were on all the time in my house, and every day a new, unfolding drama came with it. Would Mary Lou nail the gold? Would the women's team beat the Romanians?

I recalled the opening ceremony in Los Angeles, which featured an ungodly amount of excess -- something like 80 white grand pianos in one performance -- and thought to myself, "Yup, that's life in America. Anything is possible." Sure, we'd get shellacked in later games; our image as a superpower would tarnish in the wake of a recession, but for a 12-year-old girl it was a send-off to big dreams -- of winning gold. I started practicing my handstands and back walk-overs in the yard. Mary Lou was sixteen years old. I had some time, and a lot of catching up to do. -- Jory des Jardins, co-founder of BlogHer and blogger at From Here to Autonomy


Una LaMarche

During the 1996 Summer Olympics, I was in Paris on a National Lampoon-like European vacation with my family. The only problem was that I was sixteen and my sister was ten, which added up to many nights spent babysitting while my parents had romantic dinners. They saw the Eiffel Tower; we watched the television in our hotel room, which only had two stations of interest to us: the Olympics and Alf dubbed over in French. That was the year Marie-José Pérec won the 200- and 400-meter dash, and I'll never forget the cheering outside on the streets of Paris while my sister and I ate room service pommel frites. (Well, that and Mr. Tanner's beautiful Gallic baritone. It made him sound very sexy.) -- Una LaMarche, The Sassy Curmudgeon


Karen Ballum

Our family's television was rarely tuned into sports growing up, but that all changed in Olympic years. From ice-skating to hockey to gymnastics to boxing -- we watched it all. Of course, we always cheered for our Canadian athletes and I remember watching on the edge of my seat whenever our Olympic teams had a shot at a medal. Who can forget the 1988 Battle of the Brians in Calgary? And I don't think it's any surprise that following Carolyn Waldo's performance that same year in Seoul, we saw synchronized swimming suddenly become very popular in my small town. Even when we were very young, watching the Olympics made us feel like we were not only watching history but being part of it. - Karen Ballum, Sassymonkey Reads


Kelly Wickham

The '84 Olympics introduced me to lots of people. Etta James, when she sang the National Anthem. Carl Lewis, when he gained in popularity and his comparison to Jesse Owens. And Zola Budd. Not because she was blamed for tripping another runner in the race, but because there was such controversy surrounding her gaining British citizenship because of Apartheid. I didn't even know what Apartheid was at the time, but the Olympics gave me a lesson in South African history and expanded my world view. It made me happy to cheer on the Americans who were competing, but learning about what happened in other parts of the world helped me see the Olympics as something completely different. - Kelly Wickham, Mocha Momma


Jodi Nelson Call

In 1976, I was five years old. There were a few things that happened that year that I remember. First: My parents wallpapered our living room with a green and gold crushed velvet fleur-de-lis pattern, apparently to complement the brown and orange shag carpet. Second: A Kiss poster was banned from my brother's room. Third: The Summer Olympics in Montreal were our soundtrack to every single thing during the last two weeks of July. Our big giant wood-encased Magnavox Television was on constantly, with my five-year-old brain barely registering most of it until I heard my mother start squealing each time Bruce Jenner made an appearance.

There was something about Bruce Jenner that caused an uproar of excitement in our home. When the track and field events were on, we were all allowed to discard any previously set-in-stone rules. Eat in front of the TV? Sure! Skip a bath to watch a competition? Absolutely! Best of all, my bedtime was thrown out the window to watch Bruce Jenner accept his gold medal for the decathlon. His super-heroic pose on the Wheaties box that followed barely did justice to the first celebrity who actually registered on my radar and made me watch for years afterwards looking for the next Olympian Hero. He or she hasn't appeared yet. That magic is stuck somewhere in the synthetic fibers of a shag carpet in 1976. - Jodi Nelson Call, Pistols and Popcorn


Genie Gratto

During the 1984 Games, we were staying at my grandmother's house outside Canton, NY, and I spent as much time as I could curled up in her brown naugahyde recliner in the tiny TV room, watching the events on her crackly television. I was most thrilled that the sports I did at the time -- swimming, tennis, and gymnastics (well, I mostly did tumbling) -- had finally made it to television. During breaks in the action, I went outside on her patio and choreographed elaborate rhythmic gymnastics routines with a ribbon I'd acquired. After those Summer Games, I was hooked for life. -- Genie Gratto, The Inadvertent Gardener

What's your memory? Check out all our Olympics 2012 coverage!

Rita Arens authors Surrender, Dorothy and is the editor of the award-winning parenting anthology Sleep is for the Weak. She is the senior editor for BlogHer.com.

This is an article written by one of the incredible members of the SheKnows Community. The SheKnows editorial team has not edited, vetted or endorsed the content of this post. Want to join our amazing community and share your own story? Sign up here.

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