Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Olympic Sports

Lots of complaining that too many of the Winter Olympic sports aren't real sports. That curling has a competitor who is pregnant seems to torque people off. Of course, curling in general seems to bother them. They have a point. My ultra-athletic younger brother, All-American in lacrosse, picked up curling for one season and went to the HS North American championship as an alternate.

It's a skill sport, and the Winter Games are top-heavy with skill and technique sports: figure skating, ski-jumping.

But so are the Summer Games. Fencing, archery, synchronised swimming. These take athletic ability, especially at top levels, but they epitomise skill sports.

The winter games don't have people banging into each other, for one, except for hockey. No boxing, no Greco-Roman wrestling. Judo. Field hockey. OTOH, the Summer Olympics has stuff with horses. Dressage. That has to count against them. And rhythmic gymnastics. Diving, freestyle skiing, gymnastics - pretty similar. Distance running, distance swimming, cross-country - about even up. And the Winter Olympics has got a big advantage in fear sports: Downhill, luge, ski jumping. And biathlon, a really insane combined sport, where you have to hold your hands still and shoot things while you're shaky tired from cross-country skiing.

I call it a wash. Except for ice dancing.


Erin said...

"The winter games don't have people banging into each other"

My favorite quote out of this year's games comes from Johnny Weir defending figure skating. He is frustrated at the hypocrisy of American men who don't recognize the skill involved and would rather be watching football.

"I know for the men's population of the United States, figure skating is a gay sport," but Weir adds, "there are so many straight athletes in figure skating. I think it's the music and costumes that turn most men off," says Weir, who is known for his glitzy costumes. "They want to see spandex men hitting each other's ass and throwing a ball. It's very different," he says sarcastically.

Ernie said...

Erin, you may be right "banging into each other" is not the big drawing card for the Winter Olympics.
I do remember a few years back when I actually watched women's figure skating on TV. It was the year that Tonya Harding sent her thugs to adjust Nancy Kerrigan's knees.
I watched when both were put on the ice at the same time for a practice session at the Winter Olympics. There was no "name calling" or "bitch slapping" taking place when they were out there together.
I was truly disappointed. I got over it, but I have not watched the Winter Olympics since then.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Ernie - "a few years back." Heh. You are just begging to get smacked around.

Ernie said...

AVI - Was it my bad grammar or lack of perception of time?
I plead guilty to both.
Gee, 1994 was not that long back.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I would tend to agree that 1994 was not that long ago.* (I was about to turn 41 during that Olympics. I had not yet had my midlife crisis.) But calling that "a few" marks you as old.

*Jonathan and Heidi had not yet met at that point.

GraniteDad said...

Correct, we had not met in the winter of 1994. But we had by the end of 1994. I believe I promised to call her the summer of 1995... and never did. What a cad.

Dubbahdee said...

Getting back to the TOPIC...(sheesh)

I recognize and appreciate the skill of figure skating. But when I see how these athletes dress...a series of uncomplimentary names come to my mind unbidden. It detracts from the athleticism and makes a statement about wanting to attract a certain kind of attention that is NOT about the skill of the sport. I have no respect for that.

There are many sports that I don't find all that interesting to watch on TV that I appreciate in a rather abstract sense. Luge for instance. Awful on TV. Repeated shots of spandexed helmeted mannequins flashing across the screen to fast to really observe. The skill is too subtle, the speed too great to understand what they are doing.

As for summer olympics, why will they devote hours to covering a marathon on TV (I love running but for crying out loud it ain't good TV) but almost never show wrestling, Judo, TKD or boxing. Gymnastics is great to a point, but I would LOVE to see some combat sports.

And I have a native suspicion of any sports that are judged. If judges are involved forget it.

Sam L. said...

You left out synchronized swimming. (I seem to recall seeing synchronized diving, too.)

RonF said...

The winter games don't have people banging into each other

Have you missed watching the short track skating? How about the ski-cross? The former has contact all the time (although if you actually knock anyone down your DQ'd) and the latter has at least the possibility.