Search Box

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

The Winter Olympics

About six or seven people have asked me this week if I'd been watching the Winter Olympics. After I told them I hadn't been, two of them said something to the effect of, "But what they do is really amazing. The skill those snowboarders show......And the speed skaters, they're really impressive."

They both said this as if somehow I might not have realized that. But I'm well aware that to get to the Olympics, you have to be an incredible athlete in almost any sport. I can neither dance nor skate, so dancing on skates is beyond my comprehension. I'd never have the courage to even attempt the kinds of flips and twists the snowboarders execute. (Mostly because I know I'd never make them, but also because I've simply never been comfortable in midair.)

But, that's not really the issue. The issue is that those sports simply don't grab me.

That said, I'll probably waste a little time Thursday and Friday evenings watching the women's ACC swimming championships on the internet.

Now, you may ask, perfectly reasonably, why would I waste my time watching the third best college conference championship of a boring sport, and the women, at that? (No self-respecting male basketball fan follows the WNBA.) Especially when the best winter sports athletes in the world are on display on hi-definition TV.

It's because for some reason, early on, I just got fixated on swimming. (And, to a lesser extent, track and the martial arts.)

I'm not trying to justify that in any way, or rationalize it. All I can say is, that's who I am.

I'm not using that phrase the way some people say, "That's not who we are," trying to frame people who don't share their particular political motivations as having a lesser morality.

I'm using the phrase in the sense of, that's what turns me on.

Given that swimming was my sport, this may show a lack of imagination, or a lack of flexibility, or an overall lack of adventurousness of spirit.

Honestly, it probably shows all three of those things.

But there's a limit to what we can spend our time appreciating. You could spend your entire life focused on the ballet, on those incredible leaps and balancing acts the dancers are capable of. You could spend an infinite amount of time appreciating the power and range and timing of the voices one can hear at the opera. You could spend endless weekends at museums, marveling over the incredible skill and painstaking workmanship that went into creating the masterpieces on display.

But most of us simply choose to remain within our small circle of interests, and do what we're used to.

Well, some of us more than others, I guess.


Chris Mallory said...

"(No self-respecting male basketball fan follows the WNBA.)"

Honestly, no self-respecting basketball fan follows the NBA either. Even college ball is moving swiftly into parody. High school sports are about all that is left.

Chris Mallory said...

I should add, "Other than baseball." But then baseball is still fairly hidebound and traditional, despite the blasphemy of the designated hitter.

John Craig said...

Chris Mallory --
I hear that more and more about the NBA. The self-indulgence of some of the pros seems to turn a fair number of people off.

purpletigerbot said...

Besides speed skating are there any Olympic winter sports where athletes race head to head and complete in under a minute or two? Time trials and individual skill display runs dominate. Winter Olympics are mostly boring b/c they sorely lack head to head races where you can tell who is winning just by seeing who is in front. The Summer Olympics are packed with these sort of events (swimming, sprinting, mid distance running, rowing etc) so it is easy for casuals to watch.

John Craig said...

Purpletigerbot --
True, time trials do take away from the drama of the competition. I haven't watched any of this years Olympics, but I remember from times past that the speed skaters at least race in pairs. And the short track skaters race in groups of what, six? I think the cross country skiers go head to head. That's about all I can't think of.

Anonymous said...

I rarely watch any of the Winter Olympics, finding them to be boring.

- Susan

John Craig said...

Susan --
Well, I'd call them that, but I watch swimming so can't really talk.

Anonymous said...

I was just saying to a fellow swimmer friend.... what the winter olympics needs is a 500m open water, no wet suit 'ice swim', preferably ocean, with water temperature ~38F.

- Ed

John Craig said...

Ed --
Ha, you can try out for that, I'm not going to.

Not Dave said...


My wife was a little taken aback when she asked I wanted to watch the Olympics with her and my response was, "Eh."

I've heard plenty in the past decade or so about Olympic athletes on PED's (remember Usain Bolt?) and that they know how to skirt or time the drug tests so they don't show positive. To me the Olympics is much like professional sports that I have pretty much stopped watching altogether. Now a 17yo female that is a spectacular snowboardist probably isn't on PED's but still I believe the majority of athletes are. I believe you recently posted a story or blurb about a swimmer you believed was using steroids, I don't recall his name because I don't follow swimming.

Chris Mallory is correct.

John Craig said...

Dave --
If Bolt is doping, he's actually one of the less obvious cases. Some of the sprinters in track have builds which just scream steroids, he doesn't. But, it would beggar the imagination to think that he was that much better than all those dopers while he was clean. And at one point he did try to hire a coach who was a notorious dope dispenser.

I think a lot of athletes are juicing, more than most people realize. That said, I do think there are clean athletes, too. In my sport, swimming, I think four of the biggest recent stars are actually clean: Phelps, Lochte, Ledecky, and Sjostrom.