The Olympics

I love the Olympics. I can’t explain why, but I’m one of those people who doesn’t give a crap about most of these sports at any other time, but will happily watch them during the Olympics. On Monday night, Gail and I watched women’s 100m hurdles, 200m sprint, and gymnastics. The other morning while working out, I put the Australia-Japan women’s softball game on and kept watching for another half-hour after my workout because it was such a great game. I eventually had leave the game in the 9th inning to go have a shower and get ready for work, so I missed Japan scoring the winning run in the 12th.

Olympic sports I love watching:

  • gymnastics — gymnasts have to be graceful and artistic, but very strong as well. I particularly love the rings, high and uneven bars, and vault, and the balance beam is brutally difficult. We watched American Shawn Johnson (who looks like she’s 4’6″ and 75 pounds soaking wet) win a well-deserved gold medal the other day by nailing her routine on the beam. Even rhythmic gymnastics isn’t bad.
  • swimming — Not sure if it’s the swimming itself that I enjoy watching, or just watching how far ahead of everyone else Michael Phelps can get.
  • men’s 100m sprint — truly the fastest men on the planet. This Bolt guy is unbelievable — he put his arms up (which has got to slow you down) with 20m left in the race (i.e. he’d only completed 80% of it), and still set a world record. The Canadian in the race said that Bolt could probably do a cartwheel at the end of the race and still win.
  • beach volleyball — if you had asked me before it was added to the Olympics whether it should be there, I would have said unequivocally no. But I enjoy watching it. And not only because the women’s event consists of very fit women jumping around in bikinis.
  • diving and synchronized diving — synchronized diving is another sport that I questioned when I heard of it being added, but I still like watching it.

Olympic sports I don’t:

  • water polo — I watched part of a match last week, and it was more boring than soccer, if that’s possible.
  • BMX racing — Are you kidding? If this is in, where’s skateboarding? Or hacky sack? How seriously can you take a sport whose athletes include someone whose legal name is Kamikaze?
  • synchronized swimming — The first time I ever saw this, I thought it was a joke someone made up, like something you’d see on The Onion. I’m still laughing. Yes it’s difficult, and no I couldn’t do it, but come on.
  • equestrian events — the horses should be getting the medals here. Not that getting the horse to do these things is easy, but it’s the horse doing the real physical work (i.e. the thing that makes it a sport), not the rider. These events should be testing an athlete’s physical abilities (i.e. strength, agility, stamina, etc.), not the ability to control a horse.
  • race walking — I find it hard to watch these people with their butts wiggling back and forth and not giggle.

I have wondered for several years now why lacrosse is not in the Olympics. It was, back in 1908, and was then a demonstration sport in 1928, 1932, and 1948, but not since. Apparently to be considered, a sport has to be widely practiced in at least 75 countries (50 for women’s sports) over at least four continents. OK, this is probably not true for lacrosse. But I have a hard time believing that it’s true for beach volleyball, water polo, table tennis, handball, rhythmic gymnastics, trampoline, synchronized swimming or synchronized diving. When was the last time some roads were closed in your town for a big race walking event?


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