The Tokyo Olympics have left me dazed and confused. The 14-hour time difference is too much to handle as a TV watcher.
There has been a growing paranoia in this age of instant access that what I found in TV listings is an event that was already completed.
First thing I'm required to do when making the decision on whether to become involved as a viewer is to check the phone, in a search for evidence that this event occurred overnight.
I covered one similar Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia in 2000. I was a big fan of Australians as cynical characters, but I hated the 15-hour difference as a reporter.
We were not yet fully engaged online with startribune.com, so nearly all copy was offered for the print edition. I recall standing outside the interview area after the U.S. men's basketball team survived Lithuania in the semifinals, waiting for Kevin Garnett and others, and doing my 7:15 a.m. radio hit on the subject back in the Twin Cities.
And then writing about the Yanks' dramatic escape for a newspaper that would be hitting door stoops 22 hours later in the Twin Cities.
We've been spoiled in the two decades since then with everything on TV (NBA Summer League games, for Keita Bates-Diop's sake).
In this case, "we'' being "me,'' since I have no interest in watching replayed events … even when I'm not sure it's a replay.
That standard wasn't in play as an 11-year-old in November-December 1956, experiencing my first conscious Summer Olympics from Melbourne, Australia. If it was on the black-and-white Philco, we watched, since there was one TV option – Channel 11, KELO in Sioux Falls – in Fulda, Minn.
What mattered then was track and field. Everything else filler, waiting for the next time Bobby Morrow from Abilene Christian was going to run a sprint, or to watch the dominance in field events.
One puzzle I recall from way back then: Why do we win the discus, the shot and the hammer, and we can't get a lousy bronze in the javelin?
There were a total of 22 men's events and the U.S. won 15 gold (three for Morrow), nine bronze and four silver medals in Melbourne. There were nine women's events and the U.S. settled for one gold, one silver and one bronze.
World-wide, it seemed, the male gender was very worried about women overexerting themselves. There were only four footraces, 100, 200, 80-meter hurdles and a 400-meter relay to go with five field events.
A "distance'' race was added for women in 1960 at Rome: 800 meters. Still no 400, because the females might try to run too fast on a complete lap around the track, and who knows what long-term effect that could cause?
All caution was thrown to the side the first time around in Tokyo in 1964, when not only was the 400 added, but there was now a pentathlon – with points tabulated in five events (shot put, 100-meter hurdles, high jump, 200 meters and long jump).
My theory has been that the watershed moment for women's sports, the path toward Title 1X in 1972 and opportunity by decree, was at the Rome Olympics in 1960.
As America's male sprinters lost their dominance, Wilma Rudolph won the 100, 200 and anchored the winning 400-meter relay team. The relay team of Martha Hudson, Lucinda Williams, Barbara Jones and Rudolph were all members of coach Ed Temple's Tigerbelles Track Team at Tennessee State, then an all-Black college in the segregated South.
We watched those Tigerbelles. There were no balancing acts and glides across ice. This was speed and power. Wilma and rest of her relay team were the athletic stars of 1960, when the Summer Olympics remained a glorified track and field meet.
This look back started for me a couple of days ago, when the U.S. men continued what has become a tradition, messing up a handoff in the 400-meter relay and getting beat … this time with a DQ in a preliminary heat.
When that happens, one name always comes to mind: Ray Norton.
I'm telling you this as gospel – even as high schoolers on the Minnesota prairie, we were fully engaged in the success of the U.S. track team.
And we were expecting three golds from Norton. Something happened. He ran last in the finals of both the 100 and 200 meters – sort of a track version of Simone Biles' losing her mojo for a time decades later in Tokyo.
The chance for a single gold remained for Norton in the 400-meter relay. It was Sept. 1, 1960, and turned into a such a bad day for the U.S. that track and field reporters dubbed it "Black Thursday'' for the Americans.
The U.S. relay team was Frank Budd, Norton, Stone Johnson and Dave Sime. Those four ran a world record time of 39.4 seconds. And then they were disqualified when it was determined Norton had started too early and was out of the changeover box when he took the baton from Budd.
Thank goodness we were 50 years from Twitter. What would have been posted about poor Ray would have required the outlet's gatekeepers to spring into action.
Thus, it was Wilma Rudolph, who had dated Norton for a time, that came home to the hero's welcome.
It wasn't until 1972 in Munich where women were allowed to compete at the robust distance of 1,500 meters. It took until 1984 in L.A. for a women's marathon (Joan Benoit, USA) to be contested and for the pentathlon to become heptathlon (seven events).
Yet, when celebrating 50 years of Title 1X in the upcoming months, never forget Rudolph.
In 1960, it wasn't "You go, girl;'' it was more a national awakening that proclaimed, "Look at Wilma go.''