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A more perfect union

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With the Games in the United States, having every state represented by at least one athlete would have been ideal. It nearly worked out that way, with 47 states and the District of Columbia boasting athletes, and only Wyoming and North and South Dakota shut out. As usual, California leads the way with 161 athletes, with New York (36) a distant second.

Gender trends

Female participation continues to increase at the Olympic Games. To achieve total parity, however, competition formats will have to be enlarged in a number of sports to achieve a balance. What often escapes notice, though, is that women have several sports to themselves (softball, rhythmic gymnastics, and synchronized swimming) and another, badminton, in which they outnumber men. The Olympic teams of two countries are made up exclusively of women this time (Lichtenstein, with two athletes, and Lebanon with one), and each of the teams from Canada and Denmark have more women than men.

Goal: Score world peace

If the Yugoslavian and Croatian water polo teams meet, two players will have to put aside old loyalties. Perica Bukic and Igor Milanovic were teammates on the Yugoslavian team that won the gold in 1984 and 1988. This time Bukic plays for Croatia and Milanovic captains the Yugoslavian team. The war in the Balkans prevented either team from competing in 1992. The two squads have since met, without incident, in a pre-Olympic tournament in May, won by Yugoslavia, 8-7.

Tug of war to volleyball

Just how different were the first American Olympics, in St. Louis in 1904, from Atlanta's Centennial Games? Vastly different. For one, the 1904 Olympian Games, as they were called, were only part of a larger event, the World's Fair. Atlanta's Games are geographically concentrated, with 16 sports contested within the 1.5-mile radius known as the Olympic Ring, but in St. Louis all events, except swimming, were at Francis Field on the campus of Washington University. Ninety-two years ago, tug of war and pole-climbing were events. This year, beach volleyball and mountain biking provide a change of pace.

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Paternity rackets

The fathers of two American tennis players were Olympians before their children were, but not in the same sport. Andre Agassi's dad, Mike, was an Iranian boxer in 1948 and 1952. Lindsey Davenport's father, Wink, was a US volleyball player in 1968.

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