I yield to no one in my disdain and outright contempt for the Olympics (even as I semi-obsessively obsess over them). Despite the many ultra-compelling stories they generated (from Jesse Owens to Emil Zatopek to the "Miracle on Ice") the function the Olympics were created to serve—European nationalism and later, Cold War proxy battles—are not good things, in my view. Any organization that would ever allow a true cretin like Avery Brundage—a personal friend of Hitler who later ran the International Olympic Committee and after the murder of Israeli athletes in Munich, immediately took to the stage to bitch about attempts to boot racist Rhodesia from the Games—to run its show has a lot of splaining to do. And the Winter Games, now melting down somewhere in Canada, were always a less-interesting stepchild to the real event, the Summer Games.
Writing in the Orange County Register, libertarian humorist Ron Hart makes a funny case against the Lames. Snippets:
Apparently, some elitist northeasterners decided we needed Winter Olympics so they could get their "fair share" of this pillow fight among unimportant Nordic countries. Maybe if the Winter Games had consequences, they might interest me. For example, if Sweden loses to the U.S., we get to give away the Nobel Prize. If they beat us, they can have Al Gore and Barack Obama.
The bobsled event, which I think was invented by Robert Sled, is also not really a sport. It is more like a winter activity. How can it be a sport when only white guys do it? Is it really a big deal when a guy gets on a sled, points his toes, and lets gravity take over? I am sure there is more to it, but no reasonable person I know wants to take the time to find out.
At least the Summer Games have some underpinnings of real athleticism. Running, jumping, boxing and basketball all seem like worthwhile international competitions, and therefore we field our best athletes. I am going to encourage Tiger Woods to enter the broad jumping event next time.
The last Summer Games had some controversy when the Chinese lip-synced their opening ceremony songs and slipped in under-age female gymnasts. Many liberals were horribly disappointed; if you cannot trust a totalitarian communist regime, whom can you trust?
But you know what? Curling is a goddamn great sport to watch, especially when you're subjected to about 15 minutes of it every four years. Can 30 million Canadians, who seem to worship curling as much as hockey, be wrong? Of course they can, as any brief survey of their prime ministers will attest. But it's fun, as is seeing snowboarding great Shaun White do whatever it is he does, etc. And who knew that luge was so dangerous (besides everyone who has tried it, or bobsledding, for that matter)?
None of this should be tax-supported, which it all is, of course, but the same can be said about virtually every major sport in the U.S., where we're all on the hook for stadiums up the ying-yang. More power to the X Games, and all that, but the Winter Lames have their moments.
i've been grooving on olympic figure skating. but one thing i don't understand. how come every single man is wearing sequins, in outfits that range from the merely tasteless to the pointedly excruciating? one would think in an activity that has such pronounced elements of art that one would occasionally run across someone with some rudimentary taste, or someone who wanted to manifest some sort of dignity, or someone who wanted you to watch what he was doing and not the way his day-glo epaulettes were shimmering.
now you may well say that this response is homophobic. true, true, and probably you're also not going to find me listening to techno or broadway show tunes, or sobbing about the tragic fate of judy garland. but is every single one of these dudes gay? or are they only playing gay on television? and really it seems possible even for a gay man to appear in public in a way that emphasizes his art.
Let me suggest a different theory (and one that doesn't pretend that somehow there's a huge difference in wearing sequined leotards and unsequined ones, as every athlete at the Games does): Every era needs an outlet for glittered costumes for men as well as women. Where that outlet ends up is anyone's guess and it's less related to sexual preference than you might imagine. Male figure skating costumes (along with Mexican wrestling) are essentially where glam-rock and prog-rock outfits went to die.
There is a fixed sum of sequins that must be in use at any given time, or else the universe collapses. And in the interest of ending this post, getting on with the day, and cutting to the last word in prog rock and ice skating, ladies and germs, I offer up a snippet from Rick Wakeman's unfortunate King Arthur on Ice: