The 2010 Winter Olympics begin tonight with the opening ceremonies, and though they’re just 300 miles away in Vancouver, B.C., I could probably win a gold medal for apathy.
I’ll tune in tonight for the opening ceremonies, because there’s going to be some pressure on Vancouver to one-up Beijing’s, but after that, the Winter Olympics become the reason I can’t see new episodes of Parks & Rec or The Office for three weeks.
I don’t actively hate the Winter Olympics. I just don’t care about them. I didn’t partake in any of the events growing up. I think that’s the biggest drawback here. Sure, many of you may have played hockey. But who among us can watch and say, Oh, this reminds me of my little league luge days?
I know figure skating or even some of the trick-oriented skiing and snowboarding events are big draws, but I shy away from sports that require judges. That’s too much subjectivity for me. That’s why I like golf, basketball, football, baseball and other mainstream sports.
In golf, you can tell it was a stroke because they hit the golf ball.
In basketball, you can tell it was a three-pointer because the ball went through the hoop and they shot it from behind the three-point line.
Switch it up to some of that half-pipe nonsense where a snowboarder is whirling and twirling and grabbing things and the announcers are using terms like “fakey” and “double-nose sick grind boom” and I’m completely befuddled. When they reach the end of their run, they wait for judges to measure their performance based on opinion. I’m sure it’s a well-informed opinion, but I, the novice, think everything the snowboarder did was awesome. Then the judge says otherwise.
That’s the problem.
Even with events measured by time, I struggle. Take the bobsled events, for example. The difference between gold and silver can come down to 1/1000th of a second. I mean, a team will train for a lifetime for their one chance and — God, listen to me. I’m starting to sound like a regular Bob Costas.
I’ve got a problem with the way advertisers have gone about hyping the Games, too. Is their some vicious rumor the American public is enamored by speed skater Apolo Ohno and skier Lindsey Vonn. Sure, each are dominant in their sport, respectively, but the public doesn’t need to be spoon fed its icons.
Ohno was on Dancing With the Stars. So was Aaron Carter. That doesn’t make him likable.
Vonn is in this year’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. That makes her exposed and overexposed all at once.
The bigger problem is stars like Ohno and Vonn steal the spotlight from the lesser-knowns whom the Olympics are supposed to be about. I like the stories of amateur athletes who bust their ass 40 hours week at a normal job, but just so happen to be outstanding athletes on the side. That’s what made the U.S. women’s softball teams so great. Not so long ago, the U.S. hockey team was built with amateurs, as well.
The downhill sports no longer have a low profile, either, thanks to numerous popularized pro tours and ESPN’s X Games. The Winter Olympics appear to be nothing more than the most recent stop for many of these athletes. Of course, they probably know the Olympics as “the one you get drug tested for.”
NBC already anticipates it will lose money broadcasting these Games. Their one lifeline is the fact they take place in a favorable time zone. American audiences won’t need to watch delays or re-runs, necessarily. I’m going in with the attitude I’ll probably get a lot of reading done over the next few weeks. But NBC can gauge the popularity of the Olympics on people like me, who don’t intend on watching, but haven’t completely ruled out Olympic fever.