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A whole bunch of little things to wrap up Week One in Rio


There’s one thing that’s very cool about these Games and this city and it’s that there doesn’t seem to be an awful lot of crass commercialization going on.

I’ve been around our neighbourhood near Copacabana more than a few times, we drive through Beautiful Downtown Barra to get to the press centre and even though I was scrunched down in my seat to avoid the bullets on the way to and from basketball I saw enough of a small business area to realize that not every store, every corner is hawking Olympics merchandise.

Oh, they’re there in some places because who doesn’t want to try and sell a t-shirt or a hat or a goofy stuffed animal but it is not omnipresent as it has been in some Games.

Even here in Barra where 15 sports are being contested in basically the same park, there is no ginormous store that sucks the people in like to the swirl of a tornado and separates them from their hard-earned Reals.

And the downtown streets, at least in our neighbourhood that’s about five or six blocks up from the beach, the kiosks on the street will sell you chocolate and magazines and fresh air but they aren’t clogged with shirts or souvenirs or knickknacks that no one basically wants.

I’m walking out of the restaurant last night and there’s a rowdy table of four, three men and a women, celebrating Fiji’s rugby sevens men’s team that won the country’s first ever gold medal.

The look of pure joy on their faces, wearing jerseys of the team and T-shirts of their country was very, very nice to see and one of those “yeah, these things mean something to people” moments.

Things I have now said out loud:

“Could you please put the fencing on that television? Thank you.”

Oh, yeah, that’s me, Mr. Tennis and when you come to these things you never know exactly what you might do out of necessity one day to the next.

It was the first Olympic tennis match I covered – the odd Rogers Cup day has been in my past – and I guess the one thing that struck me was how small and out of the way the court was that they used for something as important as a semifinal.

It was way in the back, only held a couple of thousand people, tops, and it was so crowded there were fans outside the fence who’d ripped holes in the mesh draping so they could watch, kinda like a modern day Knothole Gang (Google it, young ‘uns).

I get that there was rain early in the week and they got backed up but to ask players of such international significance as Daniel Nestor and Rafa Nadal to play a medal match on a court with no replay, no full cast of line judges and so far off the beaten track diminished the moment.

I’m sure there could have been more creative scheduling that could have been done to move them even to a secondary main court rather than the third rate facilities they were on.

Too bad because it was a helluva match, two tiebreaks, Nestor went – for him — all McEnroe on the chair umpire and more people should have been able to see it live.

I don’t know if we’ll ever get enough to make it worthwhile, and I don’t know if my new friend Tash is around on the weekends to help us out but I can start putting a mailbag together if you get to askdoug@thestar.ca and do your business.

Things I will never get used to and it’s in the TMI department but being asked to dispose of paper in a garbage bin rather than the toilets is a thing here in the Main Press Centre, aka, jail.

Ate a new place last night, a joint that opened right next to our hotel about 24 hours earlier. Solid risotto, the Chopp was either Brahma or Stella so I switched back and forth and we might have found at least a secondary home.

Need a good Brazilian steak house, though, and we don’t seem to have one in the neighbourhood.

So, I see the schedule is out for the HOTH and, man, at first glance it looks like a tough one.

And I have yet to speak to The Mighty Quinn about it but I cannot imagine flying home from Salt Lake (you have to go through somewhere, no directs) on Dec. 24 and then back out to Portland on Dec. 25.

That’s pretty much not going to happen.

Three things that aren’t too bad

Two days before a game in Oakland so another couple of nights in San Francisco.

A night off in San Antonio for the first time in a couple of years and that’s always good.

A night off on the first trip to Philly and I always look forward to the possibilities of the Philly trips.

Three things that aren’t too good

Only three afternoon games all season, bringing deadlines into play far more often than they should be.

Four out of five on the road to end the season, although you’d come home after the day game in New York and drive back down to Cleveland.

Two long west coast trips and, back to the bad old days, two separate trips to Los Angeles, which makes no sense to me whatsoever.

Anyway, that’s how we look at things when we get a chance to see how the season might unfold.

TORONTO STAR | SPORTS | DOUG_SMITHS_SPORTS_BLOG

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