We are relieved to know that these misjudgments are not the result of corruption. They are the result of humor error.
Randy Harvey is reporting from his 13th Olympic Games. He has covered every Summer Olympics since 1976 and every Winter Olympics since 1988. He joined The Sun as the assistant managing editor for sports in April and has previously worked for the Chicago Sun-Times, New York Daily News and Los Angeles Times.
- WBAL-TV's Noel Tucker blogs from Olympics
August 24, 2004 8:52 AM ET
Debating the Australian way
I was involved in a bar fight last night. In the interest of accuracy, I believe it actually was early this morning.
I wasn't really involved. I was on the periphery, but fully cheering on my colleagues.
Here's what happened. Seven of us journos were sitting around a table in the rooftop bar at the Main Press Center when an Australia reporter came over and began insulting us. As a rule, I like Australians. But he proved there is an exception to every rule. In his defense, though, he was very, very drunk.
He called us names, said we were insular Americans who didn't care about anything in the world except America and challenged us to name the capital of Australia.
We got it right on the third try.
Instead of being appeased, he became more agitated. I thought maybe he was upset about U.S. involvement in Iraq, but what seemed to really get under his skin was that we call our major league baseball championship the World Series. I'm guessing he thinks the Expos should be moved to Melbourne.
One of my colleagues who smokes offered him a cigarette. It used to work with peace pipes. This just seemed to make him angrier, although he took the cigarette.
We finally left our table and moved to another one.
A short time later he followed us.
None of us wanted to fight. As Americans, we were told before we came to Greece that, because of the world tension over U.S. foreign policy, we should draw as little attention to ourselves as possible. The athletes have really taken that to heart. Most are on their best behavior. After a 1-2-3 sweep by U.S. runners in the men's 400 meters last night, their celebration was subdued. They said later that they wanted to be respectful of the crowd, their opponents and their country.
There have been few incidents. There were a few derisive whistles when the U.S. team entered the stadium for the opening ceremony and one fan complained about some anti-American sentiment at a beach volleyball game. Otherwise, I hadn't witnessed anything until the Australian approached us. Maybe it was the Foster's talking.
One of my colleagues, who used to play football in the Big Ten, finally tried to escort the Aussie to the door. One insult led to another, and my colleague shoved the Aussie. Another of my colleagues lifted him off the ground and carried him, in a bear hug, outside the bar. We closed the door and held it shut until security arrived and took away the Aussie.
We returned to our seats and continued to sip our Perrier.
One of my colleagues asked if we shouldn't discuss why the Aussie had been so eager to insult Americans.
We contemplated that for a moment and then began to talk about the World Series.