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XXX Olympics (not what you think)

Sweet

The Thrill of Victory 

A few nights ago I was lying in bed watching NBC’s coverage of the Olympics.  At about the 200 meter mark of the mens 4X100 freestyle relay, I sat up and turned up the volume.  My wife joked and asked if I thought that would help team USA swim faster.  Alas, it did not but in a nutshell that moment is what I love the most about sports in general and the Olympics in particular.  Now don’t get me wrong, one of my favorite things about the Olympics is learning the names of obscure athletes in obscure events and then spending two weeks name dropping and acting like a pretentious jerk (I do this with the Kentucky Derby as well), but even greater than that is the pureness of competition.

I have mentioned before that I will race you at any given moment for any given task or situation.  Pretty much anything gets more interesting and more fun when there is a chance to emerge victorious.  I love the Olympics not because I am a fan of swimming or shot putting, but because I am a fan of watching athletes that have dedicated their life to something put it all on the line against each other or against the clock.  In fact, sometimes when I am eating Oreos, I imagine there is a little green digital line moving between the box and my mouth that represents world record pace, just makes it more fun that way.

I love that moment when the end of the race nears and someone begins to break from the pack and surge to the finish.  To me, there is no greater drama than that regardless of what kind of event it is.  Peppering in the fact that my rooting interest is an act of patriotism only adds to the enjoyment.  In short, that is why I love the Olympics.  The pageantry is OK and while Mary Poppins will always be on my top 5 list of fictional characters, the opening ceremonies don’t do much for me.  I love the Olympics because sport and competition have a way of making me rise up out of my seat and share in the drama that can only be provided by a level of competition measured in hundredths of a second.  Watching an athlete’s life of work and dedication boil down to one definitive moment of triumph is totally sweet.

Weak

The Agony of Defeat  

cartoon by Clay Bennett

As much as I love competition and the Olympics in general, there is a part of it that frustrates me.  That part is events that are not raced or scored but rather judged.  I am not suggesting that the judging isn’t top-notch and impartial but I cannot seem to develop the same type of rooting interest when I cannot discern a winner from a loser.  For instance, last night I watched synchronized diving for a bit (side note, I see that there isn’t a ton of package that needs covering but something about a plumber’s crack doesn’t seem very Olympian to me, could we not get like an inch more fabric on those Speedos?).  I was blown away by the twisty rolls and the spinny turns (sorry if my vernacular gets to technical for you) these guys were doing in perfect sync but sometimes even before they hit the water the commentator was telling me how horrible it was and pointing out a leg separation or a bit too much twist and not enough roll.

While events like diving and gymnastics are entertaining and I can be in awe of the physical display being put on, I just can’t get as invested as if I were rooting for someone to get to the water first or jump the highest.  I hate that moment when the dive or apparatus is complete and everyone just waits around while the judges give their most educated opinion on how good something was. Maybe if I had invested the time to understand figure skating or the parallel bars better, I would be able to embrace the judging component better but for me it is just easier to recognize a winner by the person that got to the finish first, lifted the heaviest thing, or threw something the farthest.

Regardless of my novice understanding of those events, the XXX Olympics is nothing like that thing I almost watched on pay per view in that Hilton in Dallas a while back.  While the opening ceremonies lacked a Mr. Belvedere reference and had no shiny pickup trucks like when they were down here in the glorious south, I will always tune in and follow along.  The Olympics are great but seeing someone’s dream and life of work and dedication go down the tube because of slight knee separation on the second flying rolly turn is totally weak.

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About Simon

I am a husband and a dad of two little girls. I am a lone Y chromosome and am already planning my escape strategy to deal with the estrogen flood that is on its way. People say there is a lot of joy to be found in the simple things and I have found they can provide a healthy dose of anti-awesome as well. I am, in general, a pretty optimistic guy and needed a bit of a creative outlet; so here it is. Thanks for stopping by. View all posts by Simon

24 responses to “XXX Olympics (not what you think)

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