Monday, August 8, 2016


I love the Olympics.  I love the Winter Games for bobsleds flying down mountains and speed skaters crashing* into competitors.  I love the Summer Games for its sheer size and scope of sports.  I love the pageantry, the stories, the talent, the competition. The opening ceremonies with their fascinating look at nations that I can never can find when playing 10 Days.  I love that, for two weeks, there is always sports on TV from when I wake up until I go to bed.   If I'm not interested in an event, I can change the channel and something else enthralling will be on.  Not that there are a whole lot of sports I won't watch.   I don't understand them all, but I'll watch them.  I'm currently viewing diving and I couldn't tell you what separates a good dive from a bad, except splash is bad.

*I'm hoping surfing adds some of the enjoyment of watching people fall to the summer games.

Sure there are the downsides.  The corruption, the cheating, the economic devastation that host cities have suffered*.  There are certainly better ways to run the games, perhaps having a permanent host city so the infrastructure doesn't have to be built each time.  All in all I think the Olympics does good though.  It is one of few things that bring most of the world together.  Countries forget their differences for a little bit while competing in Badminton and Archery.

*I was disappointed that Boston gave up its bid to host the Summer games.  Sure the crumbling infrastructure and bankrupt civil services can't support its current citizens let alone a large influx of tourists. It would have been an absolute disaster that would have taken the city decades to recover from, but still, it would have been fun. 

In the first couple of days I've seen table tennis, water polo, and volleyball, things I'd never watch any other time of year.  I've seen men and women's cycling with horrific crashed and stunning finishes.  I've caught up on four years of swimming, which is kind of like watching a T.V. show again after a long hiatus and being amazed at the unrealistic story-lines.  I've learned about rugby, which compacts the action of a 3 hour football game into a half hour game. My favorite sport though is beach volleyball, a game that is easy to follow and played with utter exuberance.  I'll happily watch anything* though as long as I have someone to root for.  And the Olympics always gives me someone to root for.  I live and die for an athlete that I hadn't heard of yesterday and will have forgotten about tomorrow.

*Okay, maybe not synchronized swimming, that is just weird.

My rooting interests are actually a bit convoluted.  I don't tend to root for Americans, because it feels like rooting for the Yankees, a team of heavy favorites who have all the advantages.  I also don't usually root for countries where athletes tend to be stoic, like Russia, Germany, and China.  I tend to root for for athletes in countries I want to visit.  I've never found a New Zealander I didn't like as well as Australian, Italian, and much of Western and Northern Europe.  I root for individuals whose success means a great deal to their countrymen.  Ginny Thrasher, who won the first U.S. metal of the games, was famous for a day.  Hoang Xuan Vinh, who won Vietnam's first ever gold, will be a national hero.  And of course, since it is the Olympics, I'll root for a particularly compelling story or charismatic contestant*, like the Syrian refugee who used her skills to tow a boat to safety over open water.

Or in the case of Katinka Hosszu, the contestant's exuberant husband.

I'm excited for what happens next.  Go that guy.  You can do it.

No comments:

Post a Comment