Musings on The Olympics (published 2/2006)

So the Olympics are over, and once again we’ve triumphed in many different sports. And therein lies my favorite part of the Olympics: how that “we” is stuck in there. There’s no “we” in the Olympics. Sure, we flip on the TV or even buy a plane ticket, but last time I checked, we Americans do nothing but watch others succeed. And that’s the problem with the Olympics. In fact, it’s lead to a condition I like to call “spectatoritis”
We’ve all had it—it’s that wave of crushing mediocrity you feel when you see someone do a perfect tripe-axel or fly 50 feet on skis.
It’s what you feel while you sit and watch some 17 year old prodigy get a perfect score and win the gold, and the only thing you have to best it with is “I got a B on my English test yesterday”. It’s slightly disappointing, to say the least. But spectatoritis doesn’t stop there…it gets even more dangerous.
Spectatoritis is what makes you try and do what you see on TV, and as we all know, it’s always disastrous…you make up some explanation of how the towel rack fell mysteriously off the wall, but you know it’s because you were trying to touch your foot to your head in a moment of figure-skating induced delusion.
Or you go even further: you head out to Snowstar and try to do some sweet tricks on your freshly rented snowboard…and wake up with a concussion three days later.
And do you ever think about the athletes outside the Olympics…because apparently they divide their time between working at Home Depot and training in slow motion while sappy music plays in the background…or at least that’s what they show on TV.
I know it sounds like I’m down on the Olympics…I’m really not. In fact, to show solidarity with the winning team USA athletes, I’ve started wearing CDs around my neck to show my support.
And I like watching the Olympics… the commercials entertain me. I didn’t know it was possible to compare a shoe or a weatherman with an Olympic athlete, but around this time of year, throw in a slow-motion speed skater with an American flag, and you’ve got yourself a commercial!
I should tell you I’ve devised a plan to get to the Olympics. I’m going to get really good at curling….cuz no one really understands curling. (And by “understands” I mean “cares”) And I like sweeping things. So a sport in which you run around with little brooms and try and make big rocks go really fast seems like a good choice for me
But, in all seriousness, I’ve really got to hand my respect the people that go out for the Olympics…especially the ones who go knowing they have no shot at winning. To me, that’s the real spirit of the Olympics…doing your best no matter the outcome, and representing yourself to the world with determination, poise and pride in your country.
Now to get one of those speed skating unitards………….

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