Mark Hunter (ozma914) wrote,
Mark Hunter

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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.
Tags: slightly off the mark, weekly column

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