The Summer Olympic extravaganza is over for another four years allowing sports fans and athletes from around the world the opportunity to catch their collective breaths and giving NBC television executives a chance to huddle up and figure out how they're going to keep the network's ratings up after three weeks on top of the Nielsen's.

This time around NBC had things worked out where you could watch six separate channels at the same time, which was a plus for all the insomniacs and speed freaks in the worldwide television audience. The audio was only on one station at a time so as not to confuse viewers, but your eyes had to dart back and fourth to take everything in. This made "Jolt Cola" with all the caffeine a must, (in addition to Fritos and bean dip), for all us couch potatoes parked in front of the tube dreaming of the old days when we were in shape and could "boot" the 100 in around 10-flat.

As always, the Olympics featured the best athletes in the world coming together for three-plus weeks in the spirit of peace and competition, which was a good thing considering the problems of terrorism worldwide that continue to lurk on the horizon.

Overall, the competition had some surprises, the usual amount of controversy and a few disappointments, in what was a coming-out party for some and a last hurrah for others.

The United States fielded a strong group of athletes, except, maybe, the men's basketball team, which did not win the gold medal. This failure will probably be debated until the next world championship tournament, providing the press with an ample amount of copy regarding how the U.S. needs more "pure shooters" and why the coach should have a say on who makes the team.

Born and bred in California, the women's beach volleyball team finally won a gold medal after two unsuccessful attempts in Atlanta and Sydney, and defending champion Rulon Gardner came through by winning the bronze medal in Greco-Roman wrestling after nearly losing his life in the wilds of Idaho on a snowmobile excursion.

Those were some of the plusses for the United States.

On the controversial side, judges, particularly in gymnastics and diving, were once again brought into question for their alleged prejudices. One Chinese judge was replaced in the diving competition for scoring too high and what can you say about the gymnastic judges?

Changing the point totals after the competition was over and adjusting the scores? Get serious!

That's like saying: "Well, guys, you really didn't win the Super Bowl because we decided that last touchdown didn't count because we think the receiver stepped out of bounds before crossing the goal line." No wonder the Europeans have riots at soccer matches!

On the down side, the men's diving team failed to win a medal for the first time since 1912 and Marion Jones was shut out in track and field after winning five medals in Sydney. Ms. Jones got her 15 minutes of fame with the drug scandal involving her ex-husband in the last Olympics and her notoriety and ability to perform didn't carry over to the competition four years later. Most glaring was her blowing the handoff in the 4x100 relay with the U.S. gals in the lead.

Also on the topic of track and field and those who need to retire, Gail Devers should have stayed at home and given someone else a chance to make the Olympic team. Girl, it's time for you hang the track spikes up and open a nail salon!

The women's soccer team went out with a bang, bringing home what could have be called an "unexpected" gold medal, returning the team made up of "senior citizens" and youngsters to the glory days of the World Cup from a few years ago.

However, one of the members on the squad has some unfinished business. Mia Hamm needs to convince hubby "Nomah" to stay in Chicago and continue playing shortstop for the Cubs. Chicago loves you, baby! The Windy City is a great town; so please, please stay!

In closing, I have to make mention of Joe Falls, who recently passed away.

Out here in the Pacific Northwest, the name Joe Falls might not mean much to people, but Joe was a noted sports columnist with the Detroit Free Press for many years.

You think I grind on athletes and sporting events in my column, there was nobody who could trash the Detroit Tigers or absolutely crucify the Fighting Irish when things went wrong better than Joe Falls! He'll be missed.

• Tim Adams is sports editor for the Blue Mountain Eagle. He may reached at sports@bluemountaineagle.com or at 575-0710.

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