The Winter Olympics is well under way and already athletes from around the world are entertaining millions of people with their talents. I’m just not one of them.
It’s pretty simple, really – I have little or no interest in sports I’ve never played, and growing up in Brandywine Hundred in the 1950s and 1960s our sports world pretty much revolved around three sports. We played baseball in the spring and summer, football in the fall, and basketball all year round. We played tennis occasionally and golf rarely, although we did kill thousands of hours in my basement playing ping-pong.
But that was pretty much it – football, basketball and baseball. We didn’t even play soccer back then, which is hard to believe today’s world, where most kids start playing soccer when they’re four or five years old and many keep playing it when they’re adults. But the most popular sport on the planet just didn’t exist in our little Baby Boom world.
As for Winter Olympics sports, well, I don’t ski and I don’t skate – growing up in sea-level Delaware didn’t help that — so that eliminates most winter sports right there. The closest to those sports that I ever came was the luge, but, of course, that was just me and my trusty Flexible Flyer tearing down the hills in my neighborhood.
And that’s why the Winter Olympics don’t interest me – there was no such thing as Little League Curling when I was growing up. And even though the idea of cross-country skiing with occasional stops to shoot a rifle sounds like fun, there was no Little League Biathlon, either.
So, that’s why I don’t care, which is why I don’t watch, even though many of the events are exciting, even death-defying. But, again, there were no ski jumps at our local park, so it’s hard for me to identify with those kinds of athletes, even though they’re the best in the word at what they do.
I do watch some of the Summer Olympics, even though I don’t run sprints or marathons, either. But everybody has raced at some point in their lives, whether it was in school competition or just challenging your buddy to see who’s faster. And when you watch the Summer Olympics on television you can see who’s winning the 100 meter dash, even if you really can’t tell how fast they’re running.
That’s my biggest problem with the Winter Olympics’ most exciting event, downhill skiing. Television just doesn’t do it justice – watching on TV, you can’t tell how steep the course is or how fast the skiers are moving down it. All you can do is watch the clock at the bottom of the screen and see that Hans from Austria just beat Olaf from Norway by one one-hundredth of a second.
As for figure skating – the most watched Winter Olympics sport of all – well, it’s hard to take a sport seriously when the competitors wear sequins on their uniforms. Actually, I believe they call them costumes, not uniforms, which just proves my point.
Of course, we’re saving the best Winter Olympics sport for last – curling. This isn’t the first time I’ve taken some good-natured shots at this goofy sport, and I once got an angry e-mail from the president of the U.S. Curling Association who told me I didn’t know what I was talking about, something I couldn’t really argue.
Well, I still don’t mean to offend anybody, but how can we take this sport seriously? I’m sure curling’s roots go back hundreds of years when some bored Native Americans or French-Canadians up North had nothing to do and decided to make a game out of handy materials, which in this case meant a rock. And now curling is an Olympic sport and millions of viewers watch world-class athletes compete with brooms.
But even though I don’t watch the Winter Olympics or really care about them, I am glad they’re taking place right now — that means it’s almost baseball season and once again I get to watch Jimmy Rollins fly out to left on the first pitch he sees.
Contact Kevin Noonan at email@example.com.