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Brazilian boos at women's volleyball final: Gold won but Olympic spirit lost?

At the women's volleyball final Saturday, Brazil dominated the US for a deserved gold. But the Brazilian crowd's tone turned foul, raising questions about the Olympic spirit at Rio 2016.

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Brazil celebrates their victory over the United States in the women's gold medal volleyball match at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Saturday in London.

Dave Martin/AP

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The world got a taste of what Rio 2016 might feel like at the women's volleyball gold-medal match, and it was at once a carnival and, perhaps, just a bit of a funeral.

In the end, there was no doubting how much it meant to the Brazilians, as they collapsed in a jubilant heap after the match's final point, wrapped in each other and their own disbelief. Volleyball is a national passion, and after losing the men's soccer final to Mexico earlier in the day, a win here seemed a golden tonic.  

Nor was there any doubting that it was a gold medal thoroughly deserved. From the second set of their four-set demolition of a US team ranked No. 1 in the world, their volleyball was irresistible. Feeding off a crowd that was overwhelmingly Brazilian and louder than a jumbo jet at takeoff, every block, dig, and spike was party waiting to be unleashed, a Brazilian flag dancing in every aisle.

But it came at a cost, and one that will only be more pronounced come 2016. 

The Olympic spirit.

The Olympics, after all, are not just another World League or Brazilian Superliga match.

They are the Olympics.

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