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I Gave the Olympics a Sporting Chance


I held off writing about the 2006 Olympics until they were over because, quite frankly, I wanted to know if the closing ceremonies would be as ridiculous as the opening ceremonies.

They were.

Maybe that’s unfair of me, because I kept falling asleep while waiting for something related to sports to come on. Granted, there was a parade of athletes – young sports minded people who marched proudly in to a stadium full of fans, looked around at the pomp and festivities, and said, “What’s this crap?”

It was as if someone whose mania was fine arts took control, and decided this might be their only chance to put interpretive arts in front of a large audience. Interpretive arts, for those who don’t know, means that the art is the in eye of the artist. Often only in the eye of the artist. Remember that guy from a few years ago, who actually managed to sell tickets by presenting jars of urine and claiming they were art? And some nutcases agreed? Like that.

So we were treated to a giant head working its way around the stadium, and a bunch of people in white bodysuits who were apparently stuck in a giant spider web, and a four thousand man heart, and Yoko Ono promoting unity. Even if you don’t believe Yoko broke up the Beatles, why her? In what way is she related to men and women speeding down icy hills in skin tight nylon?

On the brighter side, we also saw roller bladers skating around with their heads on fire. There’s something to be said for that stunt, which was apparently meant to attract those car racing fans who sit for three hours waiting for a spectacular wreck. Only in this case the fire was on purpose.

There was a guy with a big hammer. That could represent sports, although normally the Olympic hammer guys come to the summer games. There was a race car, which is strange because racing is one of the few major sports that doesn’t appear in the Olympics. (I hear they canceled baseball as an Olympic sport. Whether it was to save money on all those gold medals or because they had trouble cleaning up all the spit, I don’t know.)

Then there were the people being carried away by the giant balloons with spooky faces on them. (On the balloons, not the people. Well, on the people, too.) There’s been no indication of whether the people were rescued; all I know is, the big spooky faces freaked me out.

That was just the opening ceremonies. The closing ceremonies featured clowns. I don’t know why. Rodeo clowns could be a sport, I guess.

They also had a wind machine that blew acrobats into mid-air, where they hovered as if they were really enjoying themselves. Okay, this I could understand – it was related to sports, sort of. You have to be athletic to hover in the air like that, or you have to be light.

Speaking of sports, a streaker appeared during the closing ceremony. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t part of the official program, but it does take some athleticism to run while a dozen burly security guards are chasing you, and without a sports bra, at that. Since the streaker was a female, it can be assumed that she wasn’t trying to be an athletic supporter.

Now that I think on it, maybe that’s what would pull the Olympics out of its TV viewership slump: having the athletes compete nude again, as they did back in the day. Granted, the Greeks only had summer games; with the winter games, there’d be frostbite issues.

There was also a second intruder, a man who was apparently trying to advertise an online casino. I’ll bet he went to jail. The relation to sports in that case involved a security staff related wrestling match.

But then there were the opera and the pop singers. Opera is not a sporting event. Granted, maybe it should be.

In between the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2006 Olympic Games, there were – wait for it – Olympic Games.

Okay, I’ll admit it: Curling is a sport. The curlers may not be on an athletic par with a football player, but after actually watching a few of the matches, I was impressed with their intensity and skill. I still don’t know how the darn game is played, though. Apparently it’s a mix of shuffleboard and bowling, with a little chess thrown in, all played on ice. Think about that – not so easy, is it?

I thought I’d found my sport, the one I could actually play, in skeleton. That’s the name of the sport, not the condition of the competitors. When I watched the first race, I realized – it’s sledding! I could actually compete in this! I’ve been sledding since I was six. It’s a sport ready made for me, because you’re actually lying down as you go downhill. Believe me, any sport requiring me to move while standing up will end with me lying down.

On closer examination, I realized these people were racing downhill at 70 mph, face first. Imagine what would happen if they went out of control and smacked into a tree at that speed. Face first. Ouch. On second thought, I guess I’ll just watch.

My final thought on the Olympics remains the same as four years before: There are no losers. The last place finisher in any one of those sports is the best athlete in his country. Ninety-nine percent of the people in this world don’t have a ghost of a chance of combining skill, practice, determination and luck in the right way to end up at that starting line. Make fun all you want, but they’re the best of the best.

Maybe we should put them in charge of planning the opening ceremonies.


( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 2nd, 2006 10:56 am (UTC)
You really don't want to put sports people in charge of anything involving art. Picture their incoherence when interviewed and you've got a glimmer of what I have to deal with all the time. Complete and utter twats who think they are bloody designers trying to tell me how to do my job.

I really hate clients, they don't let me meet them any more at work.
Mar. 2nd, 2006 11:29 am (UTC)
sports people planning art
Oh, I wasn't suggesting that! Really great athletes are like good actors: They're so concentrated and devoted to their one area of expertise that they know virtually nothing about the rest of the world. Thus, the insanity of listening to actors on matters of politics.

I just think the Olympic opening and closing ceremonies are getting away from what the Olympics are about, which is sports. Maybe in the off years we should have an art Olympics -- I'd support that.

What is it you design, exactly? Whatever it is, I'm with you on the client question. I take 911 calls for a living -- you'll never deal with a group of more clueless people when they're at their worst.
Mar. 2nd, 2006 11:40 am (UTC)
Re: sports people planning art
I'm a web monkey. I make web sites for real estate agents at the moment.

I may have found an even more clueless bunch than your 911 callers in real estate agents. At least your callers are operating under stress, real estate agents don't have that excuse.
Mar. 3rd, 2006 09:24 pm (UTC)
lead, follow, or go back to sleep
The secret of life is not to know everything: It's to know what you do and what you don't know, find someone to help you with what you don't know, and get the heck out of their way. I'm going to guess that your biggest problem with real estate agents has to do with the not getting out of your way part.
Mar. 2nd, 2006 03:24 pm (UTC)
curling rocks! i love how the fans paint their faces and bring cowbells. now that i'm in wisconsin, i have actually encountered people who curl in real life.
Mar. 3rd, 2006 09:32 pm (UTC)
anything's better than basketball
I saw a picture just the other day of people with fake curling rocks as hats ... at least, I *hope* they were fake. Anyway, I never thought less of the people that liked curling, but after watching it this time around I think I have a little bit better understanding of the attraction. And those American women are hot. :-)
Mar. 2nd, 2006 07:54 pm (UTC)
I'm glad I didn't watch the opening & closing ceremonies - it was more fun to read your thoughts about it!!

Curling is awesome! I'm not just saying that because I'm Canadian. I went curling last night with a bunch of co-workers and it was SO FUN!! It's actually very exerting, in between all the time we kept falling on the ice! I still don't know all the rules but I may now be a curling convert.
Mar. 3rd, 2006 09:46 pm (UTC)
curling, not curdling
I'm not so sure of the rules either, but it looks an awfully lot like shuffleboard. It also seems to be one of those sports that's more fun to play than it is to watch; as opposed to, say, downhill skiing, which I love to watch but wouldn't want to try.
Mar. 2nd, 2006 10:37 pm (UTC)
The weirdest bit was definitely Yoko Ono - I mean I could understand Pavarotti - he used to be a goal-keeper in football, and you have to admit he'd make an excellent goal-keeper in ice-hockey - nothing could get into the net past him! But Yoko Ono - WHY?

I hate to point it out - but the first really silly show-biz opening ceremony was Los Angeles as far as I remember - and wasn't it Atlanta that banned the athletes from taking part in the closing ceremony to make way for more people doing whatever it was they did at the Atlanta closing ceremony?

Which just goes to prove how unnecessary all that palaver is, as it obviously made no long term impression on me at all, it is the refusal to let the athletes take part that I remember!

The icon is how I felt when I saw Yoko Ono!
Mar. 3rd, 2006 09:59 pm (UTC)
Pavarotti was a goal-keeper???
One thing you have to remember about Los Angelas is that it's not really part of the United States. Oh, *technically* it is, but those people are like aliens among us. They're always coming up with weird things that they think reflects the rest of the country, when in reality everyone else is scratching their heads. Atlanta? No excuse, except that -- for reasons unknown -- the US does tend to follow L.A.'s lead after a few years. I guess the people in Hollyweird hypnotize us by making all those movies that purport to show "normal" people, and after awhile everyone else starts thinking they're right. And now it's spread to Italy!

Ah, well. There's always curling.
Mar. 3rd, 2006 10:50 pm (UTC)
Re: Pavarotti was a goal-keeper???
Quote from a website about Pavarotti - As a boy, sports occupied much of his time. In fact, he earned his first local fame as a member of the town's soccer team, excelling at the game he has followed passionately ever since.

See! Apparently he wanted to be a striker(About as likely as my icon), but was a better goal-keeper!

Love the curling icon!

Mar. 3rd, 2006 11:25 pm (UTC)
Re: Pavarotti
Well, we're obviously talking about a man of passions, so I can see that. I do believe he's put on a pound or two since then, though ...

As for the icon, I did a search for curling pictures, and that's the first one that came up. Apparently the internet can read my thoughts ...
Mar. 3rd, 2006 12:44 am (UTC)
On opening day, I saw a Yahoo headline stating that the opening ceremonies were surreal. I got sidetracked from reading the article but I remembered the headline while I was watching them.

Curling is great - kind of hypnotic, almost like a dance (but one with loudly cheering fans). I also love to watch speed skating -they make it look so smooth and eeeeaaaassssyyy - even though you have to know it's not. (I had the same initial reaction to skeleton you did - "hey look! sledding!")
Mar. 3rd, 2006 10:04 pm (UTC)
but they're all real athletes
I like downhill skiing, I guess because of the speed and the chance of an imminent disaster. And figure skating, because hey -- skimpy costumes. (Okay, there's the artistic thing and the drama, but I've got a reputation to maintain.)
But curling's fun to watch, as long as there isn't anyone else in the room making fun of it.
Jan. 14th, 2007 10:53 am (UTC)
alright, you win.

I read an article about sports =:o !!
an event never heard of before

and you make it *really* hard to quote a sentence, you know that?
after all, what sense would make to copy the whole article? I'm not even sure a comment could be so long

Jan. 14th, 2007 11:49 pm (UTC)
quoting a sentence
Yes, sometimes I can only be understood in context ... :-)

I'm not against sports, I'm just not much of a fan. I only watch two events annually: The Indianapolis 500, because it's pretty much required if you live in Indiana, and the Superbowl, because I like the commercials. I don't know why I enjoy watching the Olympics, even though I never watch those events during any other year; brainwashing, I guess.
Jan. 14th, 2007 11:52 pm (UTC)
Re: quoting a sentence
Yes, sometimes I can only be understood in context ... :-)

you sure you aren't an Englishman in disguise? *eyes you*

you behave exactly like my best friend when I tell him a compliment LOL

I meant it more like, I couldn't decide which one was the best...

Jan. 15th, 2007 02:33 am (UTC)
Re: quoting a sentence
Oh, I knew you meant it as a compliment, but poking fun at myself is one of my paying jobs! :-)

I do have some English blood. On my father's side, my Irish grandfather married my Native American grandmother, but I believe there's both English and German on my mother's side. We Americans are mutts!
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )

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