Writing about sports sounds like pretty much a perfect thing to do, but as with most everything else, it isn’t. If you hope that others will read your stuff, you have to read a lot of things that other sports writers write and that sports readers read. Thus are you exposed to a good deal of drivel.
The Olympics are world class drivel magnets, and right up there at the apex of drivel is the story, rant or comment that this or that sport is undeserving of being included in the games.
According to Olympic.org “the official website of the Olympic movement,” there are 15 sports in the winter and 41 in the summer. We can worry about the summer ones two years from now.
“Undeserving sports drivel” comes in two flavors:
1) This sport should not be included because I don’t like it
2) My sport that is not included is better than the worst one that is included, with worst being defined as the one I like the least
As for gripe number one, reasons given to avoid the generally unpersuasive “I don’t like it” include
- Americans don’t do it – Biathlon, Bobsleigh, Curling, Luge, Nordic Combined, Skeleton and Ski Jumping
- Judging – Figure Skating, Freestyle Skiing, Ski Jumping and Snowboard
- Sequins, Crying and Makeup – Figure Skating
If called upon to refute any of these objections, proceed directly to the Carnival Cruise Line Buffet Rule. This long-settled response to the “I don’t like it” objection is: “So, don’t eat it.”
Carnival Cruise Line buffet lines generally include several thousand items and you are not supposed to eat them all. Carnival Cruise Line simply wants to assure that everyone has something to eat that he likes (the worse for him and the more of it, the better).
The “Americans Don’t Do It” objection is flawed for at least two reasons. First, Americans participate in all the sports though sometimes not very well; and second, Americans are not everybody. In fact Americans are less than 5% of the inhabitants of the world, though our percentage of those who know about winter is higher. Note: With the steady increase in college tuitions, Americans will soon be engaged in all of these sports and more in the continuing quest for a free education based on their athletic skills.
The “Judging” objection is based on the possibility of flawed or biased outcomes distorting the correct results. Fair enough, but that is not the fault of the activity, it is the fault of the officials. Here’s an idea: let cameras and computers do it. Imaging technology and the use of multiple cameras could be used to compare the perfect triple axel or whatever the slopestyle ones are called to the ones being performed in front of you. Flaws could be identified and points assessed. Similar techniques are so widely accepted in football and tennis that their use is unquestioned.
There is no answer to sequins except possibly job creation.
As for gripe number two (where is my sport?); there are countless thousands of bars in which such battles can be waged. If you are not wild about bar fights, try building up your sport sufficiently to bump one of the others. Sport is, after all, at least partly about competing.
Lest we be considered uncharitable to those who rant about undeserving sports, here is a viewers guide to watching things you don’t understand.
Don’t try too hard. Sit back and enjoy it.
I have a daughter who figure skated and my failure to understand every subtlety did not detract from my enjoyment of the athleticism.
She also played field hockey and it is widely known that no father has ever understood why the whistle blows so often. But we all knew the basics and we all got excited about the games.
Whether you understand every detail or not, it is often quite easy to admire the skills involved and you won’t remember the names of the winners anyway.
NBC’s coverage is like the Carnival Cruise Line buffet. There should be something for most everyone but, if you don’t like it, don’t eat it.
Where can I try Biathlon, Curling, Luge and Skeleton? True, the aerial ones like Freestyle Skiing, Ski Jumping and Snowboard do scare me a bit.