Sunday, February 19, 2006

The agony of The Games

Like it? 
Women's volleyball excepted, I hate the Olympics. All of them. Winter, summer -- either one'll do. Hate hate hate. This is one of the reasons why Gov. Mitt Romney stinks, by the way. He "saved" the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City. If Mitt wanted to get on my good side, he would've botched that somehow.

Why do I have such an irrational detestation of the Olympics?

Is it the bizarre quasi-sports like curling and the skeleton and that cross-country-skiing-and-target-shooting combo?

Perhaps the ugly nationalism, the medal-counting that in the end makes it even easier for industrialized nations to claim their supposed superiority over non-industrialized nations, with prizes and all?

Could it be the tens of millions of dollars that could be feeding hungry people, instead spent to buy fireworks and to build sets and to pay choreographers and dancers and pyrotechnicians and unitard designers, so they can stage long, goofy dance routines illustrating the history of the host city, while everyone watching at home gets bored out of their skulls and uses that time to visit the toilet?

Yes, oh yes, and yes again.

Every time I complain about how much I hate the Olympics, how much I despise having my TV hijacked by the spectacle and schmaltz, somebody wags his finger at me and tells me to lighten up -- I only have to deal with it "every four years." Er, no.
Let's nip this in the bud before I get any letters. It's every two years, buddy. Two. You keep saying "every four years," but every two years I turn on the TV -- boom! The goddam Olympics. Enough!

I don't even sit and watch it, and yet I manage to stumble on the same dull events over and over while I'm changing channels.

Speed skating, for instance, is about making left-hand turns on a hockey rink while wearing a Slim Goodbody outfit. It's like NASCAR, except worse because there are no crashes. How many hours of the day do you need to see speed skating before you've seen enough? Eight? Eleven? Fourteen?

I hate the speeches, the commercialism, the rituals. I hate the Eurocentricity. I hate the arcane judging rules. How can ice skaters crash on their faces and still win second place? I hate the sequins and the facial glitter and the little Spandex caps. I hate the competitors who are 21 but look 12 because they're stuck in that permanent adolescence you get when you've been training to ice-dance since you were 4. I hate the day after day of tedious televised competition brought to you by McDonald's and the Motorola RAZR, packed with charts and graphics and abbreviated country names and sentimental segments about "Olympic spirit" narrated by Matt Lauer wearing a scarf to remind everyone that it's cold.

Enough about me. What's your> opinion about this utter waste of TV programming? I've developed a little quiz that I can guarantee will be more interesting than watching Swedish people play shuffleboard.

Do you hate the Olympics as much as I do?

1. I am circling the answers in this quiz with...

a) blue, red, black, yellow and green pen! I love the Olympics!
b) just kind of a regular pen. Is this almost over?
c) the tip of my ice skate in a figure 8.
d) red pen, because I hate the Olympics so much.

2. When the Olympics are on TV, I...

a) watch the entire thing, record it on TiVo, and watch it again. I love the Olympics!
b) watch the sport I like, hockey, and don't care about the rest. I really have to get going.
c) get yelled at by my Estonian manager to psych up for my short program.
d) When aren't the damn Olympics on TV?

3. If the Olympics were a person, and I met him walking down the street, I would...

a) ask for his hand in holy matrimony. That's how much I love the Olympics!
b) I guess there are more questions. OK, fine. I'd nod a polite hello. I don't mind telling you I'm completely uncomfortable right now.
c) leap down the street after him in a quadruple axel to bedazzle him with my showmanship.
d) lure him off a cliff, then push a heavy rock down after him.

4. If I were an Olympic city, I would be...

a) Torino! No, wait, Athens. No, wait, Salt Lake -- oh, I can't decide! I just love those Olympics!
b) Uh ... where's this one at? That one. I'm really only in it for the hockey. Oh, God, there's another question--
c) whatever city Johnny Weir and Scott Hamilton pick.
d) I hate the Olympics.

5. If I had to pick one worst thing about the Olympics, it would be...

a) the time between one Olympics and another Olympics. And commercial breaks. I can't get enough of the Olympics!
b) when there's no hockey. Like I said already, I'm really just in it for the hockey. Can I go? I have to wash the stink of human contact off myself.
c) Well, even though I didn't get the gold this time, Sergei skated a fabulous program, and I congratulate him for it, and I'll see you in 2010.
d) the Olympics.

If you answered mostly A: You enjoy the Olympics. You are probably really, scarily into the whole thing. You probably sleep on a luge-shaped bed. In a helmet. And you slide out in the morning on a homemade track to the coffee pot.

If you answered mostly B: You are a casual Olympics fan, possibly one who's in it for the hockey. You pay a moderate amount of attention to the Olympics except the hockey-related details. You also dislike answering questions and are an agoraphobe.

If you answered mostly C: You are an Olympic figure skater. You weigh about 86 pounds before you mousse your hair and put on the eyeliner. You enjoy designing and wearing sequined matador's outfits. You may have thought at some point that I was interviewing you for TV.

If you answered mostly D: Congratulations! You hate the Olympics as much as I do! You enjoy resolutely not watching the Olympics while they're on, yet omplaining about them the whole time. You win a prize -- two years of Olympics-free TV, redeemable in a week and a half!

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