Posts Tagged 'olympics'

Reason #93105 Summer Olympics>Winter Olympics

About a year ago, NBC added those little Olympic rings to its network bug. Maybe they never went away after 2008, who knows. Usually they’re translucent, but on rare and joyous occasions, they light up with the five colors of Olympic glory (that symbolize togetherness or competition or something). And that constant subliminal reminder that the Olympic games really shouldn’t ever be broadcast on anything but the National Broadcasting Company comes down to tonight’s spectacular Opening Ceremony… that’s being held indoors.

There’s nothing not to love about the Olympics. It happens so infrequently that clichés like the Super Bowl Party or World Cup Skivving Off Work For A Month To Watch A Sport Americans Can’t Even Pretend To Care About don’t hold water, and people can’t help but come together to root for their country and against whatever communists are hosting it. But the Winter Games are the bastard stepchild of that great athletic competition thought up by the ancient Greeks (who did nothing but think, when they weren’t waging war on each other).

I always loved the Winter Olympics. Snow capped mountains, figure skating, cereal tie-ins that let my brother and me send away for hockey sticks and proceed to ruin our parents’ living room–I didn’t realise these games were any less important or prestigious than their balmy-month counterparts, and wondered why newsmen started off their Olympic reports with how low the night’s broadcast rated. But it was that doubt, planted in my head during the 2002 games, that made me wonder whether the Winter Olympics really did matter. And the answer was, sadly, not really. Tonight, as I watch the Opening Ceremony, I’ll attempt to reflect on why.

First of all, it’s cold. Maybe it’s the 3 feet of snow I just lived through talking, but watching people be cold makes me cold. Sideline reporters, all be-parka’d and mittened, look like they hate their lives, and would give anything to kill Bob Costas and use his skin for warmth (or, conversely, be in  the studio with him, but that’s splitting hairs). I have the sympathetic chills, and that’s no fun.

It's an orange body condom.

And because it’s cold, everyone in the Winter Olympics is wearing a body condom. Even the figure skaters are wearing nylon mesh. Cos they’re skating on ice, and it’s effing cold. Summer Olympics feature shirtless men in pools and bikini-clad volleyball players on hot summer sand. They’re tan and sweaty and their struggle is raw and volatile. Winter athletes are windblown and red once they’re done flying down a mountain, and goggle lines are not a good look on the medal podium.

Winter sports require a tremendous amount of planning and money to participate. Truth be known, any kind of Olympic-level athlete has poured money and dedication into the pursuit of his goals, but there are far fewer barriers to entry into competition in the summer. A runner in Kenya needs only a long, flat path on which to run in order to become world-class, whereas a skier in Mexico needs access to a snow-capped mountain, money to afford the highest-caliber skis and equipment (and body condoms), and a desire to bolt down a mountain at 80 miles per hour. The Jamaican bobsledders made it work (or, didn’t), but when you watch the parade of nations, check out how many obscure island nations only have one poor schmoe representing them. Good luck, Cayman Islands.

Finally, it’s in Canada. We have to listen to the freaking Canadian anthem every freaking day. Sure, they’re our good-natured neighbors to the north, but they’re also our inconsequential neighbors to the north. They can’t even make it snow to host the games. Ninety-eight percent of Canada is an ice sheet, and the parts that aren’t are snow over permafrost. Watching the Olympic torch trace its route around such barren lands as Alert evoked a strong feeling of existential pointlessness that even a moderately more populated state, like maybe Algeria, wouldn’t. Canada is no China.

I do love the Olympics, really. Any kind of fortnight-long, every-four-years event makes that time feel special and different from any other in the year. We can compete with our global neighbors without banks or battlefields and learn about sports we wouldn’t even watch on ESPN Ocho on a normal day. But something about seeing such hot women athletes as Lindsey Vonn bundled up in a chunky cable knit turtleneck sweater and snow pants seems to lessen at least part of the appeal for watching otherwise unwatchable sports. I’ll watch, and I’ll try not to grumble through the whole 2 weeks. Go America.

Did I mention it’s cold?

UPDATE: Why is everyone a secret Canadian? Leonard Cohen? Joni Mitchell? If they were really proud of their Maple Leaf heritage, we’d know they were from there. Shania Twain, Alanis Morisette, Celine Dion–now those are proud Canadians. Bryan (Ryan?) Adams. But we forget that most people who are Canadian, are Canadian.

UPDATE 2: DONALD SUTHERLAND IS CANADIAN!?!?!?!

UPDATE 3: ARE WE EFFING SERIOUS?? MECHANICAL PROBLEMS?? China would have taken a sword through the torsos of every person responsible for this embarrassing as hell failure to launch.

Controversy, schmontroversy. She's hot. Go America.

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