Like most of the rest of the United Kingdom, over these last two weeks I have become ever more patriotic. Marrs Towers is still red, white and blue (we painted it for the Jubilee) but other houses in Edinburgh seem to be following suit.
Mrs Left Back In The Changing Room is sustaining my patriotic fervour by serving nothing but full fry-ups for breakfast with roast beef and yorkshire puddings and Eton Mess each night. Such was our good-natured jingoism that we actually went to France over the weekend to rub our neighbours noses in it. When we saw Le Figaro talking about 'a monsoon of French medals' we guffawed into our pastis. Monsoon? You call that a monsoon? We wouldn't even put up an umbrella for that.
The Olympics - much as I love it and much as my How To Watch The Olympics has become the most read tome in Marrs Towers - is only a fleeting love. I adore football. One thing that has rankled with me these past few weeks has been numerous types swept up by the Olympics turning their eyes to football and criticising the beautiful game.
There are legitimate questions over football's status in the Olympics. The current bastard format of under-23s plus three over age players is a strange one. It should, in my view, be either under-21s only or, better still, just a normal football tournament. That would give it a more obvious legitimacy, it would be more in keeping with the spirit of the Olympics and it would be a better tournament.
Those arguing that football shouldn't be in the Olympics because the Olympics aren't the highest pinnacle of the sport have a point. If that is true, we should also rid the games of basketball, tennis and various cycling events (ask Wiggins and Cavendish what their priority is and my bet is the answer is always the Tour de France).
But that isn't my main point here: we've had many quotations along the lines of 'why aren't footballers more like these athletes - humble, intelligent, and willing to engage with the interviewer''. This is usually followed up with a fairly clumsy roundhouse ''and think how much footballers earn compared to the athletes''. I remember similar sentiments after England won the World Cup in 2003 and England won the Ashes in 2009. Those fads died as well and football didn't learn any lessons.
Last things first.
Footballers earn a lot more money than athletes because the marketplace values them more highly. As wonderful as dressage, cycling and shooting are - and as much as we are all enjoying watching the golds roll in - in the four years between Olympics comparatively few people care. Blaming footballers for being popular is bizarre. We are the people who make them popular and make them rich. If you want cyclists to earn more money watch more cycling - advertisers, sponsors and money will follow pretty quickly. I'm with you.
And that popularity leads to a number of things. Remember that many of these athletes never get interviewed or watched. There isn't year-round media interest in their lives and linking their lives to the fortunes of their clubs (clubs which deal in huge markets). There aren't journalists raking through their private lives. There aren't paparazzi waiting for them outside nightclubs or following their wives to the shops. The way the media treats footballers, and the way we consume that media, breeds contempt. Of course, the way footballers treat the media impacts this - and it becomes a vicious cycle.
Football is a constant fixture in the press and therefore the press is a constant in these young men's lives. Given that their careers rely on the success of their clubs - and the munificence of their manager - and given that mind-games and press faux-pas can matter over the course of a season, they generally say anodyne things because to say anything different matters. These men are viewed as part of a team and treated as such. Their words are a part of that.
For Olympians, the press is a novelty and something that will die down in due course. The nature of the press is different too - losers are either bigged up or ignored, champions are feted. They aren't part of a club scrutinised daily in the press. Most of us, a few weeks ago, couldn't spot most of our Olympians in a crowd of one.
For footballers, it is something which never goes away - a good interview this week may be followed by the same paper shafting them in a few weeks time. Even those that win may have bad news stories published the day before a big game.
All this means that young men become very rich and very famous at a young age. This means that they are media-trained with in an inch of their life. (Note also that Andy Murray - a man far richer than most footballers - is often accused of taciturnity and dourness of speech). These men are viewed as part of a brand and treated as such.
We aren't comparing apples and apples here. Many footballers are whipped away from school at a young age and coddled by their clubs. Add a fear of the media, media training and press officers galore and you'll no doubt get a grumpy young man who is absolutely terrified of saying something that gives away something for next week's game or lands him trouble. A boring answer causes no trouble. A grumpy one is praised by the manager as landing a blow against the press.
Many of these Olympians are university graduates. Combine that with people who haven't been burnt by the media (and probably never will be), who are cheered by the media, who aren't shackled by club press officers and who know it is likely to die down and it isn't surprising they are more open and honest. The club point is huge - if they are honest today when they lose, it has no impact on next week because next week doesn't matter in the same way it does in football.
Moreover, whenever we do get a footballer who says interesting things we jump on their heads. Consider how Joey Barton and Mario Balotelli are treated. Consider how Tom Cleverly allegedly had his Facebook doctored by MUFC PR gurus when he came out with honest views about the man who injured him. They are damned if they are interesting and damned if they are boring.
But the reason that I really started this rant was because a few people were criticising Craig Bellamy. Look at this. How would you rather a rich man spend his money, and his spare time, than helping some of the poorest people in the world? And here is a man who genuinely does speak honestly and openly. A man who criticises his own team-mates and his opponents. A man who goes off message. Damned if he does, damned if he doesn't.
Finally, we can pick and choose our examples. Plenty of the Olympic interviews have been as dull as the interviews of footballers but we just choose to notice. Plenty of footballers interviews are witty and interesting but we'll focus on the not very bright chaps mumbling through the glare of a million people watching. How funny they are!
When we talk about humility it would take a quite impossible leap of faith to call many athletes ''humble''. Some would argue that Bolt is so brilliant he can be arrogant. Well, fair enough but what of Blake? Lionel Messi is almost the definition of humility and is at least the equal of Bolt in terms of era-defining talent. Indeed, Messi is probably the only man who trumps Bolt globally.
When Bolt goes out with the Swedish handball team it is charming. It legendary. It is banter. When a young, single footballer shacks up with a page 3 girl it is a cliche. If he did it during the season, or between games, he'd be hung, drawn and quartered by the press. If he did it by during an England tournament he'd have to hand in his passport and be shipped off to St Helena.
I'm not denying that many of our athletes are more eloquent, more open and more interesting than our players. I'm not even saying that footballers can't learn from other sports in their media engagement. They can learn. I'd love them to be more open. What I am saying is that it isn't the fault of the players.
Generally, when we criticise footballers we are actually criticising the wider football machine. We should recognise that and we should be open about that rather than picking the easy target. We should also be careful of wishing such attention on our athletes. They deserve the highest praise and admiration. They deserve to be heroes to our children. They don't need to be sprawled across the red tops or being papped when they go for a pint.
As is often the case, it is a case of love the player, hate the game. And sometimes we should turn our lonely eyes to the media and, gulp, those of us who consume it and are part of it.
So let's love the players (or at least lay off them) and focus on the wider game.
NB: I am well aware that Team GB's football team is a odd proposition for many on these isles but will move away from that element of the argument tonight.