Thursday, February 11, 2010

If the Olympics Start and No One Notices.......

I heard that the Olympics are starting this weekend. Does anyone care? Probably not. The reason the Olympics are not interesting doesn’t even involve the fact that they are in Canada or that they are currently trucking in snow because of the unseasonably warm weather in Vancouver. As I’ve stated multiple times here before, I am not a fan of Canada (I may or may not have used the phrase “Canada is proof that Indians f#$ked buffalo”), yet Vancouver is one of the most scenic places I have ever been. The mountains, the fresh air, the waterfront and beautiful trails and parks. A great place for a fall getaway weekend to do some biking, hiking or other outdoor activities. So Vancouver is not the problem with the Olympics…….it’s the Olympics that are the problem.

National Pride

Really? We’re supposed to be worried about whether our eskimos are better than those of Germany or Switzerland or China. Why does it matter? For a country like Finland, getting a couple medals might be the highlight of the decade for the country. Or perhaps if someone from Greece wins a medal people will forget for a second that the country is on the verge of complete financial ruin and is more financially strapped than Heidi Montag (she’s considering another Playboy shoot to pay for all of her plastic surgery). The overall medal count doesn’t matter because there are so many random sports where many of the countries don’t even compete. How is it fair to compare overall medals when not every country is in every event? It’s that old economic argument of whether you’re better off focusing only on the events you are strong in and bartering for the skills where you are not as strong, or try to be middle of the road in all skills.

A Star Every 4 Years

The reason the major sports in the US have such a tremendous following is that fans can make a connection with the stars of their sports, even if they don’t play for their home team. Their faces are all over the newspapers, internet and television over and over each season. With the Olympics, by the time the fans make a connection with one of the Olympic stars, the games are over and we won’t see them for another 4 years. Remember that Apollo Ohno guy? Is he still around? Or Picabo Street? Or from the summer games, Misty May? Amanda Beard even posed for Playboy to try and extend her fame window. At the end of the day, it’s very difficult for an athlete to stay at the absolute pinacle of their talent for more than 5 to 6 years, meaning they are lucky if they get to participate in two Olympics. By the time they make themselves a star, they are gone and no one will remember them.

The Events

Not the least of the issues are the events of the Olympics themselves. There are so many events and many of them are not viewer friendly. There are 15 sports with 86 individual events at the 2010 Olympics. That includes ice dancing, the biathlon (skiing and shooting), cross-country skiing and curling. While curling has grown in popularity because it is a sport you can do drunk, it’s hard to believe that someone can focus their efforts to become an Olympic curler. Again, when you’r e looking at the total medal counts during the Olympics, remember that the totals include some of those medals were given out for the luge, the skelton and again, ice dancing.

And if the US ever feels like it can’t compete with the rest of the world in the current events out there, we can continue to strong-arm the committee into moving X-games that the US invented not long ago into the Olympics, like snowboarding. Obviously the Chinese or the Norwegians cannot compete with Carrot Top flying off jumps on a skateboard without wheels.

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