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Joe Henderson: After months of bad news, a return to ‘everyday living’

in Apolitical/Top Headlines by

It may have seemed for the past few weeks/months that the only news was bad, political or both.

But now, a welcome distraction is on the immediate horizon, along with a return to the regular rhythm of everyday living.

The arrival of sales tax-free weekend heralds the start of a new school year, much earlier than usual in some places. I can hear parents cheering all over the Bay area.

And the Olympic Games begin in Rio, offering two weeks where TV viewers are expected to immerse themselves in gymnastics, swimming, beach volleyball, track, soccer, basketball … oh, I know I’m forgetting a lot.

Man, do we need this, and I am more ready for it. How about you? We need a break.

It must be acknowledged that world events could overtake and ruin the Olympics, and of course, there will much debate about the exorbitant cost – especially given the shaky state of Brazil’s economy. I remember traveling to Athens, Greece for the 2004 Games and thinking, “Wow, they spent a lot of money on this thing. What are they going to do with these stadiums after everyone goes home?”

No doubt, the money invested in that venture has contributed to Greece’s ongoing financial stress. Many of those beautiful facilities have fallen into disrepair.

You know what else I remember, though?

I remember feeling perfectly safe for the three weeks I was there (soldiers with high-powered weapons visible on street corners helped). I remember how beautiful everything was, and I suspended disbelief on some occasions and let the pageant play out.

And there was this special touch of irony. After friends had warned me for months to be careful while in at an international target for terrorism, I especially remember watching the Opening Ceremonies in a magnificent setting, while keeping my laptop tuned to weather reports back home as Hurricane Charley was inching up the Gulf coastline toward Tampa and my family. That was the only time I was afraid when I was over there.

We got lucky when Charley veered away, but our good fortune turned out a disaster for Port Charlotte and other locations in the hurricane’s path. The Games went on, and that excursion still ranks as the best thing I ever got to cover.

We certainly need to be reminded that there are more things worth paying attention to than Trump’s tweets, Hillary’s fibs and … oh, forget it. The Donald’s mouth will still be open two weeks from now. Right now, it’s more important that the malls are open.

So go shopping. Stock on bargains.

Then go home and grab a cool beverage. Turn on the TV. Let your eyes get misty when they play the Star Spangled Banner while awarding another piece of gold to the U-S-A, U-S-A!!

Life is calling.

It wants you back.

Joe Henderson has had a 45-year career in newspapers, including the last nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. He covered a large variety of things, primarily in sports but also including hard news. The two intertwined in the decade-long search to bring Major League Baseball to the area. Henderson was also City Hall reporter for two years and covered all sides of the sales tax issue that ultimately led to the construction of Raymond James Stadium. He served as a full-time sports columnist for about 10 years before moving to the metro news columnist for the last 4 ½ years. Henderson has numerous local, state and national writing awards. He has been married to his wife, Elaine, for nearly 35 years and has two grown sons – Ben and Patrick.

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