by J. Elvis Weinstein
I've been watching the
Olympics sporadically over the past couple of weeks.
I'll be flipping by, and
if there's some kind of eye-candy event on like the high-dive or
the uneven parallel bars, I stop for a bit. Then one of two things
will get me to flip away: one of those human interest stories about
an athlete's journey of courage and commitment, or one of those
Dominos "Bad Andy, Good Pizza" commercials - the latter of which
I won't go into because my angry rantings about it make me seem
crazy. I just don't have Olympic fever this time around.
Now I'm not going to jump
on the bandwagon and blame it on NBC's mishandling of the coverage.
Having been a writer on the canceled show "Freaks and Geeks", I'm
now used to NBC mishandling things. It's simply that I can't relate
to the Olympics on many levels.
When I was a kid, the Olympics
were very exciting to me. Maybe it was because they happened every
four years, that made it seem really important. If you have to wait
so long for something it must be big. Now that I'm older, those
four years pass with blinding speed leaving me more with an "Already?
No not yet!" kind of feeling when the games begin.
Also, I have a hard time
attaching any feeling of patriotism to the outcome of the events.
The fact that a big fat guy from my country can throw a lead frisbee
farther than a big fat guy from Bulgaria just doesn't inspire me
to hop on the couch chanting "U-S-A, U-S-A!". In fact, I'm kind
of rooting for the Bulgarian guy because his country may actually
get a substantial morale boost from his win. The American guy would
be lucky not to get bumped from his Today show interview by one
of the "Survivor" castaways promoting their new line of bug repellent.
It's not that I don't have
a tremendous amount of respect for our Olympians, I do. Although
in some of the events I'm not always sure how much to have because
I have no frame of reference for the sport. Sure we can all watch
gymnastics and marvel at skills we normal people could never hope
to achieve, but archery? I'm not convinced that if you gave me a
bow, some arrows and a solid month, that I couldn't at least contend
for bronze. Maybe I'm way off-base, I don't know. Sometimes it's
hard to know how much better than the average guy these people are
at their events. That's why I'm proposing a change for the 2004
games (I'm not sure where they're being held, Tulsa maybe). I propose
that in every event, they add an average guy to the rotation. Some
healthy, average, physically fit citizen thrown in there so we can
all appreciate what we're witnessing. Sure those track stars are
fast, but the first place guy and the thirtieth place guy are separated
by like 2 seconds. If we saw "Bob Smith" trundling in a minute and
a half later, I think we could appreciate everyone's effort a little
more. Szymon Ziolkowski of Poland won this years Hammer Throw event
with a throw of 80.02 meters. Is that good? Probably, but I'd be
more convinced when I saw Ted Peterson of Des Moines could only
heave it the length of a station wagon.
I'm not against the Olympics.
I still think it's a lovely sentiment: The nations of the world
uniting to compete on the athletic field instead of the battlefield
(which is why I never understood the shooting competitions. Why
even bring guns into it?). I do think the internet has taken some
of the steam out of that noble idea. The world is a much smaller
place now than it was a century ago. I have friends who've played
video games head-to-head against nerds around the globe for years
now, maybe even a better replacement for war. Injuries would be
limited to minor bouts of carpal-tunnel and hemorrhoids.
The next winter Olympics
are just a short two years away. Personally I think I could be one
of those middle two guys on the bobsled. Sitting is already one
of my specialties and I have two years to learn the finer points
of leaning. U-S-A! U-S-A!