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I thought we'd seen a fellow fly; I thought we'd seen him soar,
And sail around the bar with arms like cables, and, what's more,
We'd seen him leave the bar and then rejoin it with the grace
That stunned the crowd and practically electrified the place.
But then it turned out what we'd seen was something less compelling,
At least some judges thought so, 'til the whistling and the yelling
Provoked some second thoughts. I guess they felt they should rework
Their numbers if they didn't want the crowd to go berserk,
So as we watched, the judges scrambled, as some skeptics thought
Perhaps a couple had been leased, if not exactly bought.
The sad result of all the comic foolishness that night
Is that we end up wondering how often they are right --
These judges of gymnastics as they calculate or guess,
and wonder, too, since they have made a great routine a mess
Of muddled speculation, innuendo, and much less
Than it was when we saw it, if these judges, quite by chance
Have helped us to relearn that there's a beauty in the dance
That far transcends the politics, the medals, or the score.
Perhaps we should be grateful. They've reminded us once more
That winning's in the striving, in the will, and in the art,
And not in numbers flashed upon a screen, but in the heart
Of every strong competitor who spits in time's dark eye,
And says "before I grow too old and slow, I'm going to fly."
I don't know who was great that night, and who was greater still,
And even if I watch the replays, hey, I never will.
But I might watch them anyway, not for a fairer shake,
But merely for the pleasure of the flying's own sweet sake.
This program aired on August 28, 2004. The audio for this program is not available.
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