Monday, February 22, 2010

The Olympics!! The Glory! The Drama! The Utter Irrelevance!!

Every four years I am reminded of how little I care about sports that take place on snow and ice.

Believe me, I WANT to care about Amund Nordlinngsen and his quest for gold in the ski-awhile-and-shoot-a-gun-awhile event, especially in light of him losing 4 toes and the tip of his penis to frostbite during training. I WANT to care about Wang and Chen and their pursuit of the hexagonal obtuse throw in the ice dancing, especially in light of the fact that Chen's father was persecuted in Tianamen Square and lost the tip of his penis when a tank ran over it. And I especially WANT to hear more about all these people from Bob Costas or Jim Nance or whoever is talking, especially in light of the fact that Bob/Jim/Whoever has lost, or is soon to lose, the tip of his penis to something, based on the theme of this first paragraph. I WANT to care, but alas, I don't.

There was a time when I really cared about the winter Olympics. I remember reverence for some Norwegian speed skater who was just such a perfect specimen and dominant and who won several gold medals - and then there was so-and-so and whats-her-name, and also whozits, my personal favorite. who in the every important years of 19__ to 19 ___ did so much to bring prominence and glory to their otherwise meaningless and fundamentally pointless sports. But that time has passed, largely due to living in places where snow and ice were not fun or sporting, and seeing all that snow and ice on the TV is just distressing. Maybe only people from California and Hawaii can enjoy the winter Olympics without some gnawing anxiety that involves shovels and snowblowers and grandpa having a heart attack in the driveway. I just don't know.

We all have a tendency to get deeply involved and become experts in obscure and stupid sports during the Olympics. We get immersed in the intricacies of curling, platform diving, the biathlon, the pommel horse, dominoes, the hula, making toast and other Olympic sports, and we become, for two weeks, utter experts on these activities. Within 24 hours after the end of the Olympics, we don't give two shits about any of it. It is a quintessential moment of being human - the innate desire to be involved, to know, to care. That, I must say, is a beautiful thing.

So I'm glad that even if I don't care, someone does. Someone cares about the immense amounts of time so many people have spent getting ready to compete, and someone cares about the personal struggles and insurmountable obstacles that athletes have overcome to be there competing, and someone cares about "the human drama" that is more important that the physical races against space and time that create the results and the medals and the winners and the losers.

I glad someone cares, and I'm glad I don't now, nor will I ever again, own a snow shovel.


Tim said...

I'm with you on the snow shovel thing, don't need it don't want it and am glad I don't need it. I'm a California boy ( my wife would say old man ) and I don't ride my bike in the rain little alone snow, the last time I played in the snow was decades ago. So why would I care about the Winter Olympics, and I do? The competition! That's it in a nut shell! I love the competition, rooting for the home team, rooting for Bay Area athletes, rooting for the USA! I also root for Canada, Jamaica and some individual athletes.

I like some of the newer types of competitions as well, short track speed skating, ski racing with four competitors going head to head on the course at the same time, snowboarding etc. etc. I could do without the curling competition but they don't tend to broadcast that competition anyway. I would care about many of these sports if they were covered by media in the years between the Olympics but they are not to be found on the tube that I've noticed. In none Olympic years where do you find short track speed skating?

I love the Winter Olympics, the last Super Bowl was a great game but I've enjoyed the winter olympics much more!

DodgerScott said...

Just so grandpa dies of a heart attack before he loses the tip of penis to frostbite.

I have officially jumped on the bandwagon of USA Hockey. At least for the next two weeks.

Maria W. said...

Perhaps the Winter Olympics can be likened to theater? Just as these athletes train and prepare for years and years in anonymity and obscurity to have only their week or two in the spotlight, so actors practice and rehearse for weeks and weeks for their two weeks (literally) in the spotlight. When the show has run its course, the actors and athletes fade back into obscurity to be forgotten again until the next big event...

In reading your blog post I thought about how just as certain aspects of theater appeal to some people more than others, so different Olympic events appeal to various personalities. Perhaps people who like musicals are more apt to like the showy sports like ice dancing and the snowboard half-pipe. Perhaps curling appeals to those who like a good mystery/suspense.

As for those apathetic fellows, such as yourself, well, can I recommend a night at the theater while the rest of us enjoy the Olympics? :)