From Orange County to Athens

August 15, 2004


Every two years, the world throws a party, and everybody comes. A few

thousand athletes from a few hundred countries pack their bags and

travel a really long way to wherever, compete like all get out for

two weeks, then go home.

It's called the Olympic Games.

A few athletes are famous before they get there, or will be when


they leave, but most will never be heard of, or from, before, during

or after. Why do they do it? No one knows. Countries that haven't a

thing in common and no contact whatsoever and, in some cases, can't

stand the sight of each other, get together every two years like

clockwork and say, "Let's play."

Is it commercial? Of course, it is. The Olympics are big business

and make lots of money for lots of companies. But most of the

countries and athletes involved won't see a drachma of it. In fact,

most have to scrimp and save and pay their own way to get there. Why

do they do it? I already told you. No one knows. But I'm glad they


Orange County is always well-represented in the summer Olympics,

and Athens is no different. There are over 40 Orange County athletes

on Team USA, in more sports than you can shake a stick at, although

I've never understood why you would shake a stick at things to begin

with, or why you can only shake it at a certain number of them. There

are the big names, like USA women's soccer captain Julie Foudy from

Mission Viejo.

An impressive five members of the USA men's water polo players are

current or former Anteaters, as in UCI Anteaters, not real ones. Real

anteaters can't play water polo. Their legs are too short and it's

too hard to keep their snoots above water.

Another Olympian is super-swimmer Amanda Beard, who was born in

Newport Beach and now lives in Irvine, and it might just interest you

to know that beach volleyball superstar Misty May lives in Costa

Mesa, which is very close to here.

Misty May. Is that a cool name or what? I say it is. In fact, in

the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Misty was teamed with the all-time

cool-name champion of cool names -- Holly McPeak. You can see McPeak

now and then beneath the dome on Niketown at Triangle Square. She's

the one with the 6-foot-tall head in the sun-visor and wrap-around

sunglasses. "Misty May and Holly McPeak." I'm repeating myself, I

know, but if you had a name like mine you'd be obsessed with cool

names too.

Just one more, I promise. One of the stars of the USA women's

gymnastics team is "Courtney McCool." Anyway, May and her teammate,

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